Prior to the winner of the floor exercise being announced Saturday evening, Springfield College students banged their feet on the bleachers giving a drumroll for who they knew would be called.
Tali Twomey’s name was announced and the Springfield portion of the crowd erupted as they cheered on their newly crowned National Champion.
Twomey was the second to last to compete in the floor exercise and she needed to score big as Brockport State’s Candis Kowalik had already scored a 9.875.
“She has been working hard on the little details all year,” stated head gymnastics coach Jenn Najuch. “We’ve been waiting for that high score and she really deserves it.”
Her high score did come as she rocked Blake Arena with an electrifying performance and notched a program record 9.900 en route to claiming National Champion status.
“The nerves were definitely out there,” said Twomey. “Being an All-American last year, I really felt the pressure. I knew the expectations would be raised from last year, but once I went out there, I just had a lot of fun and with my team behind me and the crowd behind me, I could feel those nerves go away.”
As a sophomore, Twomey will have two more seasons to add another national championship to her belt.
Other Weekend Winners
Freshman Ali Rushlow started off her collegiate career strong by earning All-American honors Friday. She placed 8th overall in the all-around competition by scoring a 37.425 overall. Her score included a 9.750 on the floor exercise, a 9.450 on vault, a 9.250 on the uneven bars and a 8.975 on the balance beam.
During the individual events Saturday, junior Jess Clemens posted a score of 9.700 on the uneven parallel bars to place eighth and earn an All-American title. She also scored a 9.700 on the balance beam placing her seventh and earning another All-American award.
Springfield senior Briana Kerr capped off her career by competing on the national stage for the fourth straight year and finishing 18th on the uneven parallel bars with a score of 9.275.
Friday’s team event winner belonged to the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater who took home their fifth national title with a score of 193.700.
Dani Barmore of the University of Wisconsin- La-Crosse placed first on the vault with a score of 9.825 while her teammate Sam Weyker took the balance beam with a 9.825. Baylee Tkaczuk of the University of Wisconsin- Oshkosh won the uneven parallel bar event scoring a 9.500.
Walking into Blake Arena, you could feel the intensity and excitement from all of the gymnasts, coaches, and fans. The crowd was packed and many had to stand. Among the spectators was Springfield College President Mary-Beth Cooper.
“It’s been a great two days,” said President Cooper. “The hard work in having the championships here paid off. The energy here is great and it’s very amazing to see our students compete on the national level and hold their own. I’m very proud of them.”
The support from all of the fans was what the student-athletes were looking for at the beginning of the year.
Briana Kerr said, “Knowing the entire season that we were going to be hosting nationals really drove us to put in a lot of great work and be excited for the final product. At practice, everyone was really committed to their goals and knowing that the nationals were going to be right here at Blake is definitely contributing to that.”
Especially for the seniors, enjoying their last memories together on the national stage in their home building really made an impact and will stick with them for years to come.