Team will be a great combo of veteren leadership and freshmen talent
The 2002 edition of the Southeast Missouri State University Otahkian Gymnastics team will feature an explosive mix of veteran leadership and freshman talent. Losing only one senior and picking up seven talented freshmen, this year could be special for the Otahkians.
This year's group will once again be led by third-year coach Patty Stotzheim. Stotzheim helped guide the Otahkians to a 10-11 overall mark last season, up from a 5-15 mark the previous season. The season included 24 individual event winners including several gymnasts earning scores placing them in the top seven all-time highest ever at Southeast. As a team, they had the fourth highest score all-time on the floor with a 49.200 on 2/24 and broke the beam record twice in consecutive weeks at Illinois State, and Northern Illinois.
The vault will once again be strong this year for Southeast as they have a host of strong athletes from last season's team returning to anchor the event. Senior Stephanie Furman will start the season injured, but should look to re-join the Otahks rotation around the end of February. Sophomore Ashley Godwin, junior Amy Cole and freshman Katie Bloom will be the main contributors to start the season. Senior Michelle Walker should contribute quite a bit due to the perfect 10 start value on her vault. Freshman Alexis Traylor will also be expected to contribute consistently the entire season.
Senior Jessica Bagwill is injured to start the season and she looks to get healthy before the end of the season. She was the most consistent performer last season and will be greatly missed. Junior Karen Hamilton will take the reigns as she has improved her start value by .2 and it will consistently improve throughout the entire season. Godwin and Bloom will also be competing greatly in this event and junior Candace Spicer and freshman Traci Flippo could possibly make a contribution, as well.
Hamilton, Godwin, Cole and Walker will start the season 1-4 on the beam. Once she returns, Furman should fill the No. 2 spot in the rotation. This event may be the deepest for the Otahks this year as the line-up could change weekly with as much talent as they have.
The Floor Exercise
The Otahks will look to Walker to show the way on the floor this season. She shared the No. 1 spot with Furman last season and will do the same again this season once Furman get's healthy. Cole, Godwin should also contribute greatly to the rotation. Senior Elenor Wilson has a very artistic routine and it has the potential to be amazing.
The team is rounded out by Sophomore Jacklyn Doebbler, and freshmen Talia Cover, Crystal Eberhardt, Alexis Traylor and Anna Fink. One senior has left via graduation, but the Otahks and Coach Stotzheim feel they have brought in seven very talented freshmen. Doebbler has a beam routine chocked full of difficulty and could also contribute on the floor. Cover is a possible four-eventer with her strength and power being her greatest assets. Eberhardt is another possible four-eventer that has great potential, as well as Traylor, who could be a great contributor on the floor exercise. Fink could possibly make the rotation on bars and will also likely contribute on the beam.
This season marks six home events for the Otahks and Coach Stotzheim is very pleased with that situation. The Hawkeyes of the University of Iowa will be at Houck on February 9 and should be a great meet for people to come out and see. The rest of the home schedule is full of great opponents including Western Michigan, Illinois State, Ball State, Northern Illinois, Centenary College, Wisconsin-La Crosse, Wisconsin - Oskosh, and Texas Woman's. The Otahks will start the season on the road January 4, as they travel to Gainesville, Florida to take on the Gators of the University of Florida, as well as Central Michigan. The meet against Northern Illinois will also be interesting as former coaches Mark Sontag and Kris Buchheister, both formerly of Southeast, coach on the Huskies staff.