Gymnasts put new talent on display at intrasquad event

Wednesday, December 7, 2005

With two key performers out all season, newcomers will have to fill the void.

Injuries have made the Southeast Missouri State women's gymnastics team even younger and more inexperienced than coach Tom Farden had expected.

But Farden was impressed enough with his returning athletes and large group of freshmen during Tuesday's intrasquad meet to believe that the Redhawks will have a solid chance to overcome their misfortune.

"It's going to be a challenge this year," admitted Farden following the competition at the Redhawks' training facility in Parker Gym. "But we have a lot of talent in the freshmen class, and we've got some solid returning gymnasts. I think we'll be fine."

The Redhawks learned recently that two of their top returning gymnasts -- led by standout Tara Boldt -- will miss the entire season with injuries.

Boldt, a senior, is a two-time NCAA regional qualifier who last season was named the Midwest Independent Conference co-gymnast of the year. She suffered a torn Achilles tendon in practice and recently had surgery.

Junior Lexie Hein recently underwent back surgery.

"We'll really miss those two," Farden said. "We're hoping they'll be able to come back and compete next year."

Several of Southeast's rookies -- eight of the Redhawks' 12 healthy gymnasts are freshmen, with two sophomores, a junior and a senior rounding out the squad -- flashed their potential Tuesday

Farden was particularly impressed with Sandra Blake, who had the top all-around score (36.350) during the intrasquad meet that featured official judges. She also won vault (9.450).

"She looked very good," Farden said.

Said Blake, "We'll all have to pick up the slack, but we can do it."

Another freshman, Kelsey Stauffer, was second in the all-around (35.400). Sophomore Danyelle Aber placed third in the all-around (35.300).

Other event winners were sophomore Alison Ezell on bars (9.450), freshman Maureen Grimaldi on beam (9.550) and junior Brystol Powelski on floor (8.900).

Ezell was last year's Midwest Independent Conference co-newcomer of the year.

Grimaldi had a strong second-place score on bars (9.400), while freshmen Starlyn Schwartz and Chelsea Unold tied for second on vault with solid scores (9.300).

The Black team, led by Blake, Ezell and Grimaldi, beat the Red squad 142.600 to 140.700. Well over 100 fans attended the meet.

"It was nice to let our fans get a look at the team, and we had a packed house," Farden said. "The turnout was great."

Southeast still has more than a month to go before the season opens Jan. 14 at nationally ranked Kentucky.

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