Women's Gymnastics Begins 2006 Season on Sunday

This Week: Sun., Jan. 8 CS Fullerton, Utah State, North Carolina State Fullerton, Calif. 2:00 p.m.

SPARTANS BEGIN SEASON SUNDAY: The San Jose State women’s gymnastics team opens the 2006 season this Sunday afternoon with a meet at CS Fullerton with Utah State and North Carolina State. Fullerton and Utah State are affiliate members of the Western Athletic Conference, while North Carolina State is a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

NEW YEAR, NEW CONFERENCE: The San Jose State women’s gymnastics team joins the WAC this season after competing in the Mountain Pacific Sports the past few seasons. The WAC for women’s gymnastics consists of members Utah State, Boise State and San Jose State as well as affiliate members CS Fullerton, Sacramento State and Southern Utah. The conference championship meet will be held on Saturday, March 25, at Utah State.

HEAD COACH: San Jose Sate head coach Wayne Wright returns for his fifth season at the helm of the program. He has helped the Spartan program make significant strides during his four-year tenure, breaking school records, winning conference championships and a team invitation to the NCAA West Regional.

Last year, Wright’s team had a 17-5 overall record and placed second at the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championships. Three of his gymnasts - Jennifer Greene, Greta Leach and Michelle Minotti, qualified for the NCAA West Regionals in the all-around.

WRIGHT ON THE START OF THE SEASON: “I am very excited to get the season started. We are ready for the season to begin. With the addition of our freshmen, we are going to be very competitive this season.”

CHANGES IN SCORING: One noticeable difference to collegiate women’s gymnastics fans will be the scores posted at meets. After last season, changes were made to the scoring system to lower start values and overall scores.

“Scores are going to be lower across the board this season,” said Wright. “With the changes, start values for routines are lower which in turn will lower team scores.”

RETURNING GYMNASTS: The Spartans return 11 letterwinners from last season. Returning gymnasts include Michelle Minotti, who in her freshman year qualified in the all-around for the NCAA regionals; Amberly Klein, who won the 2003 and 2004 MPSF beam championship; Greta Leach, who competed in the all-around at the NCAA West Regional; Leah Bigelow, who competed exclusively on the beam last year; Raylyn Cardeno, who vaulted in all 11 meets and competed in floor on four meets; Shina Cardeno, who vaulted in all 11 meets; Casey Jay, competed on the vault and floor in every meet; Tracie Kavalec, competed on the bars in 10 of 11 meets; Liz Major, who competed on the bars in the final two meets after recovering from a knee injury; Adriane Mertens, competed on the beam in every meet and on the floor in seven meets; and Kelsey Spellacy, a bars specialist who competed in every meet. Also returning for San Jose State are Danielle Johnson, who won the “Team Spirit” Award last year and Alley Zezoney, who is a vault specialist for the team.

FRESHMAN READY TO MAKE AN IMPACT: Seven freshman join the Spartan women’s gymnastics team for the 2006 season. Alise Blackwell competed fro Airborne Gymnastics and was a two-time state bar champion. Michelle de Groof last competed fro Byers Roseville and was an alternate to the 2004 nationals. Renae Moneymaker competed for Rohnert Park Gymnastics where she was a three-time state, regional and national qualifier. Jennifer Pizano competed for GymStars and was the 2004 Level 9 regional champion. Veronica Porte competed for Golden Gate Gymnastics and was the 2000 and 2002 regional vault champion. Alicia Quinata competed for Aerials Gymnastics. Nancy-Ann Van Eck competed for Almaden Valley Gymnastics and qualified for the 2005 Level 10 state and regional competitions.

NEXT WEEK: The Spartans travel to Stanford for a quadrangular meet on Sunday, January 15, at 2 p.m. Competing at the meet will be UC Davis, Sacramento State, Stanford and San Jose State.