Redhawks gymnasts prepare for regional

Friday, April 9, 2010
Southeast Missouri State's Jordan Salsberg performs her floor routine during a meet earlier this season at the Show Me Center. (LAURA SIMON)

Southeast Missouri State gymnastics coach Kristi Ewasko hoped to take her entire team to Columbia, Mo.

The Redhawks fell short of that, but they'll still be represented at Saturday's NCAA South Central Regional hosted by the University of Missouri.

Southeast ended the season ranked 40th nationally, with the top 36 making the regional field. The rankings are based completely on teams' average scores during the season.

"We had a great season, we just came up a little bit short," said Ewasko, whose squad compiled a 16-5 overall record and a 9-2 Midwest Independent Conference mark. "Unfortunately in gymnastics it's not based on wins and losses, but the girls did their job."

Three Southeast athletes qualified for the regional meet, although senior all-arounder Rikara Turner will not compete due to an ankle injury that plagued her for the second half of the season and kept her out of all-around participation. Turner competed in the past three regionals.

"It's very unfortunate about Rikara, but she had a great career," Ewasko said. "And she was still excited she qualified even though she only had half a season to score."

Freshman Jordan Salsberg will be in the all-around after she finished the season ranked No. 20 in the South Central Region. She took over as Southeast's top all-arounder after Turner started experiencing ankle problems.

"It's very impressive to qualify as a freshman," Ewasko said. "Jordan had some struggles at the beginning of the season but she really came on strong. We knew she was a talent."

Junior Brianna Gaddie qualified to compete on floor for the second year in a row after also competing in regionals when the entire squad qualified during her freshman season. She also is an alternate on vault. Gaddie is ranked No. 15 on floor in the region and No. 32 on vault.

"Brianna has definitely been a big anchor for us on floor," Ewasko said. "She was really consistent."

Junior Christina Sundgren is a regional alternate on bars after making the regional field last season. She is ranked No. 35 in the region.

It will be difficult for any of the Redhawks to qualify for the national meet later this month since only the top two all-around finishers not on an advancing team, along with event winners, make the cut.

"It's an honor just to make it to regionals. It gives them a chance to show off all their hard work," Ewasko said. "Qualifying for nationals is quite a feat. We'll be going up against some of the top teams in the country."

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