Brown Gymnastics Opens 2009 Season Against Towson on Sunday

Jan. 16, 2009

Providence, RI - After a tough pre-season, the Brown gymnastics team is back and ready for an exciting and competitive 2009 campaign as they open up the season at the Pizzitola Sports Center in back-to-back home meets, starting with the Towson University Tigers at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 16, and then MIT at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 25. Under the guidance of Sara Carver-Milne, who enters her seventh season as Brown's head coach, the Bears return 10 veterans, including 2008 USAG All-Americans Jennifer Sobuta (Maynard, MA) and Chelsey Binkley (Marietta, GA) as five freshmen round out the roster.

Carver-Milne will look to senior captain Sobuta to continue building on her successes from last season, as a leader both on and off the floor. Sobuta has been one of Brown's most consistent and top scorers over the last three years, and was honored as Brown University's top female varsity athlete, earning the Marjorie Brown Smith Award in 2008. She earned the ECAC Coaches Award after turning in a personal best 9.775 on the bars and winning the title at the Ivy Classic. Sobuta earned the fourth-highest bar score in the history of Brown's gymnastics program, and earned First Team All-Ivy Classic honors on the bars and in the all-around competition. She also has personal best scores of a 9.825 on the beam, a 9.575 on the vault, and an all-around score of 38.025. In 2007, Sobuta qualified to NCAA Regionals on the beam.

Sharing captain duties with Sobuta is junior Stephanie Albert (Sanibel, FL). Last season, Albert earned a career-high 9.575 on the floor and holds a career-high of 9.725 on the beam. Albert will continue to lead the team as a captain, but has been sidelined after having surgery on her shoulder this season.

Senior Whitney Diederich (Naperville, IL) is expected to be a regular in the floor lineup this season. Last year, she earned ECAC Specialist of the Week honors after posting a personal best 9.55 on the floor and quickly surpassed that mark the following week with a 9.6.

Brown sophomore Chelsey Binkley (Marietta, GA) made a big impact as a rookie last season, and is looking to be a major contributor this year competing all-around for the Bears. She was one of the team's top performers on the floor, earning a career-high 9.725. Binkley also posted personal bests of 9.450 on the bars and a 9.475 on the vault during the Ivy Classic, and turned in a personal best all-around score of 37.25. She was named the ECAC Rookie of the Week after competing all-around for the first time in her collegiate career during Brown's second meet of the year. She also earned the team's Rookie of the Year award.

Adding depth and strength to Bruno's lineup are juniors Izzy Kirkham-Lewitt (Venice, CA) and Helen Segal (Los Altos, CA), and sophomores Melissa Bowe (West Barnstable, MA), Rachel Desmarais (Kingwood, TX), Vida Rivera (Jackson Heights, NY) and Vicki Zanelli (Katy, TX).

Kirkham-Lewitt is one of Brown's strongest performers on the beam and bars. She earned the ECAC Coaches Choice Award after posting a career-high 9.450 on the beam, and just one week later beat that score with a 9.500. Segal left the team her freshman year for personal reasons and has returned stronger than ever as a junior. She is eager to make an impact on the team and will be a strong force on beam, floor and vault.

Zanelli and Rivera made huge contributions during their rookie season. Zanelli was Brown's top performer on the bars with a personal-best 9.6. She has also posted a 9.55 on vault, 9.450 on beam, 9.625 on floor and a 37.825 all-around score. Zanelli was one of three bears to qualify to USAG Nationals last season and with Binkley, was named the team's Rookie of the Year. Rivera became a consistent scorer on the bars, beam and floor. She earned a personal best 9.650 on the bars, and holds a personal best 9.450 on the beam. Rivera earned 1st Team All-Ivy on bars at the Ivy Classic in 2008.

The five newcomers are expected to step in and make an immediate impact in Brown's lineup. Freshmen Katie Goddard (Kings Park, NY), Lily Siems (Baltimore, MD), Lauren Tucker (Farmington Hills, MI) and Carli Wiesenfeld (Atlanta, GA) will add depth on all four events. Amy Tran (San Diego, CA) is rehabbing a knee injury from her senior year of high school.

Siems, a graduate of Roland Park Country School, is a two-year Level 10 gymnast and competed for Docksiders Gymnastics. She was a 2008 Level 10 Regional Bar Champion, and was also a 2008 JO National Qualifier. She will be competing all-around for the Brown squad this season. Another freshman Carver-Milne is expecting big things from is Lauren Tucker. She will be one of Brown's strongest performers on beam and floor. Tucker will also compete a strong vault for the Bears.

Wiesenfeld was a four-year varsity letter winner from North Springs High School. A four-year Level 10 gymnast, Wiesenfeld was a four-time regional qualifier and the a 2008 Level 10 State vault, beam and all-around champion (2nd on bars, 4th on floor) and was the 2008 North Metro Gymnast of the Year. Goddard is expected made in immediate impact this season after working extremely hard in preseason while boasting one of Brown's strongest floor routines.

With a solid group of veterans and a talented group of underclassmen, Carver-Milne will lead the gymnastics squad to the top of the Ivy League and the ECAC standings. Each gymnast has worked hard in the off-season and has made improvements on their routines to help lead the Bears to a successful 2009 campaign.