By Kevin Saxe
Heading into the season, head coach Jenn Najuch set a goal for her team — to set a new Springfield College record with a score of 190. Not only did the women reach this goal, but they did it en route to their victory over Rhode Island College on senior day while defeating four school records.
The previous team score record was set at 189.525 last year at the National College Gymnastics Association (NCGA) East Regional. However, the team upped the ante with their 190.725-184.350 win.
“We’ve been talking about getting out there and doing the best gymnastics that we can and have fun while we do it. They were able do it today,” Najuch said.
Not only did the team score record fall, but two rotational records fell in addition. On the balance beam, the Pride broke their team record for the second time this season. The women topped their previous high with a 48.350 and set a new program record, scoring 48.600 on the floor routine.
The Pride began the day on the vault where they scored a 47.600 and were led by sophomore Ali Rushlow with a 9.650.
Senior Jess Clemens in her final meet in Blake Arena notched a 9.625 on the vault and 9.650 on the bars, but starred on the balance beam and in the all-around score. The 2018 All-American tied Abby Clark’s Springfield College record of 9.775 on the beam and is now the lone holder of the Springfield College all-around score with 38.750, ousting a record previously held by Marissa D’Angelo.
“I definitely felt the energy from the crowd and from my team but I tried to just keep taking each skill one at a time and focus on what I was doing,” Clemens said. “It’s something I have been working towards for so long so it’s still, honestly, so surreal.
Heather Gomes was also competing for the final time in Blake Arena. As a four year member of the Pride, Gomes has qualified for two NCGA championships and in her last home competition, contributed a 9.725 on the floor.
“Jess [Clemens] and Heather [Gomes] are a super solid senior class,” Najuch said. “They were freshmen when I first started the job so I’ve got to experience all four years with them, which has been really exciting to see their growth. They’re really strong leaders and they create a lot of positive energy. For them to go out in their last meet and do what they did, was really exciting to see.”
The Pride’s day concluded on the floor where they were led by last year’s national champion, Tali Twomey who produced a 9.8 and was followed by four athletes who all scored 9.600 or higher.
Following their outstanding performances as seniors, Clemens and Gomes will take the reigns and lead the Pride as they get set for the NCGA East Regionals on Saturday, March 9.
Photo courtesy Springfield College Athletics