After a record-breaking and history-making year in 2014, Temple women's gymnastics and Head Coach Aaron Murphy
are set to reach bigger goals and continue the success of last season in 2015. The Owls open up on Friday in a meet at Eastern Michigan at 7:00 p.m.
The Owls are coming off an 18-17 record from the 2014 season with a third place finish at the ECAC championships. The Owls produced four USAG All-Americans at the USAG National Championships, as well as an ECAC floor champion, Jasmine Johnson
. The team also defeated Towson for the first time in program history to cap a winning streak of 11-0 through three weekends of competition in February.
Returning 15 gymnasts and introducing four newcomers on to the team, Murphy hopes to improve their third place finish at the conference championship and score above the team's season high of 192.325. "Deirdre and I have challenged the girls this year by training them to be routine ready in November and not in December such as last year," said Murphy. "We hope that the outcome of this will build their confidence and consistency on the events to be better prepared for the beginning of the season with a stronger finish at the end of the season."
Fifth-year senior captain Jasmine Johnson
will be one of the team's key returners this season. Johnson is coming off a first place floor exercise finish at the conference championships, as well as a Second-Team All-American finish on vault at the USAG National Championships. In the 2014 season, she posted season highs on beam, floor and vault, scoring a 9.675, 9.8 and 9.775 respectively. "Jasmine Johnson
made a statement last year with her first place finish on floor exercise at conference and wants to make an even bigger statement with the team score this year throughout the season."
Joining Johnson in a fifth year of competition is all-around competitor Brittanie DeMeno
, who earned a career high 9.75 on vault last year at the Eagle Invitation in March. DeMeno also earned a season high all-around score of 38.15 at the dual meet against Ursinus.
Seniors Alexis Arena
and Lauren Capone
are coming off a successful 2014 season. Arena posted scores above 9.6 consistently on both vault and beam, with a season high of 9.75 on the beam. Capone looks to improve her third place finish on the floor exercise at the conference championships with a score of 9.725, as well as continue her success on the vault where she earned first-team All American honors on the apparatus at the USAG National Championships. Capone posted season highs of 9.8 on the floor and 9.825 on the vault.
Other key returners include the Owl's all-around competitor sophomore Briana Odom
. Odom earned a First-Team All-American honor in the all-around for her performance at the USAG National Championships and earned a season high all-around score of 38.5. Also returning from the sophomore class will be bar and vault specialist Victoria Reggiani
, who's strong bar work earned her a season high of 9.7 at the Towson quad meet last season.
Looking to make strong comebacks are seniors Stephanie Verry
and Natali Ruzich
. Both took a redshirt in 2014, but they will be returning to contribute on all four events. Beam specialist Taylor Rakus
also missed last season due to an ankle injury, but looks to make a strong return as well in 2015.
A notable loss for the 2015 season is junior Reagan Oliveri
, who tore her Achilles tendon in the offseason. Last season Oliveri was named the Most Valuable Gymnast and earned career highs on all four events, tallying a 9.6 on vault, 9.8 on bars, 9.8 on beam, 9.75 on floor and a 38.75 in the all-around. She earned the silver medal in the beam finals at the USAG National Championships and earned First-Team All-American honors. Oliveri will be recovering in 2015 to return for the 2016 season.
Murphy has added a strong set of freshman to this year's roster. Kerry Arone
, a native of Westampton, N.J., was the state and regional bar champion in her senior year and qualified for the J.O national championships. Kayla Kennedy
, of York, Pa., is also a successful bar swinger, taking the state title in her junior year and placing second in the region as a junior and senior just behind Arone. As Temple Owls, both girls look to make a strong impact in their rookie seasons. "Our freshman class looks to make a strong impact on vault and uneven bars for the Owls this year. All four freshmen have what it takes to break into the line-up this season, and we'll have to wait and see at what meet that unfolds."
Arone and Kennedy are joined by fellow rookies Gianna Gambutti, a three-time level 10 state and regional qualifier and J.O National Invitational qualifier from Wayne, N.J., and Gina Tucker
, of Staten Island, N.Y., who was a two-time level 10 state and regional qualifier and current state-wide high school vault record holder.
Assistant coach Dierdre Mattocks-Bertotti will return for her third season with the Owls. Last season, she primarily trained the beam squad, who earned a season high event score of 48.3 and had one of its members (Oliveri) place second in the beam finals at the USAG National Championships.
This season, Mattocks-Bertotti will continue to focus her efforts on the beam squad, where she hopes to build a brand new squad with only two of the 2014 beam workers returning (Arena and Odom). "Deirdre has been incredible for this program and its success all-around. She will be stepping into the role of a recruiter and mastering all the skills that go along with that position."
After a revamped preseason training schedule, the Owls will take a flight to Eastern Michigan University on January 9 to take on the Eagles, one week earlier than the Owls traditional schedule.
Following the season opener, the Owls will visit the nation's capital for the Lindsey Ferris Invitational at George Washington University, followed by a home meet on the 24th against Ursinus in McGonigle Hall. The Owls then travel to New Hampshire on the 31st and begin February with a local competition at Penn.
The Ken Anderson Memorial Invitational will be hosted on February 14th, followed by meets against Ursinus, Pittsburgh, Cornell, and a travelling trip to Iowa State to round out the regular season. The ECAC conference championships will be hosted by Yale on March 21st. The Owls aim to continue their post-season with NCAA Regional action in early April.Live Stats