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Senior gymnast rises to the top

After finishing the Eastern College Athletic Conference with a record-breaking vault score, qualifying for the NCAA Regional meet, and being awarded the ECAC Gymnast of the year, senior Kacy Catanzaro is finishing her last season strong.

In the ECAC Championship Meet, she posted a career-best and set the ECAC record on vault with a 9.975. Her 9.850 uneven parallel bars score and 9.800 floor score helped lead the team to a second place finish that was just .025 points shy of first place Penn.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better senior season, and I don’t take any of it for granted because I look around at my teammates,” Catanzaro said. “Kady [Sullivan] was injured and she didn’t have the opportunity to do it. Gymnastics has been my life forever, and I couldn’t have thought of a better way to end it than this.”

Catanzaro has been working toward success even before her freshman year at Towson. Between balancing school and gymnastics, Catanzaro said her many responsibilities helped her become an adult.

“Gymnastics definitely makes you grow up a lot faster, because you have to organize everything, and prioritize everything, and do so many things at once,” she said. “All of the hard times I’ve gone through since freshman year have definitely helped me to grow into the person I am today.”

Head Coach Vicki Chliszczyk said she’s noticed a big change in Catanzaro this season. Catanzaro staying healthy all season was just one contribution to having a better year.

“She’s been able to put in more numbers than she has in the past,” Chliszczyk said. “That’s shown to be helpful and fruitful for her and that allowed for her skills to get a little bit better, a little bit easier, her to get more confident, and know that she can hit them.”

While Catanzaro’s high vault score at ECACs was a big accomplishment, those who have worked with and around her weren’t surprised.

She said her coaches and teammates had often joked with her to “just get a 10 already.”

“The fact that one judge gave me a 10, it was so exciting,” Catanzaro said. “It was the first event of the meet and we were all pumped up, and I was the last to go, and Lindsay [Poplaski] had just gone before me and gotten a huge score, so I knew that I was set up well, and I just wanted to do the best that I could for the team.”

The only problem Catanzaro had at the meet was on beam, where a fall lead to a 9.200 score.

It’s something that she says she won’t forget any time soon.

“I know the team doesn’t see it as badly as I do because it’s me personally, but I definitely do feel responsible about that,” she said. “People have tried to make me feel not bad about it: talk about other scores that did count that were so much higher than usual, so that helps.”

Catanzaro says that she won’t let her fall at ECACs hurt her mentally going into the NCAA Regional meet April 7.

She said she thought about the fall in practice, but that she’ll be practicing the routine so many times that it won’t be something she’s worried about during the meet.

“It’s definitely something that’s in the back of my head that I try to push away,” she said. “When I get to the meet, it’s not something that I dwell on. I won’t be thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, I fell last meet, I don’t want to fall.’ I just do my numbers, get confident again and just let that slip away as a mistake that I’ll learn from.”

Chliszczyk said that as long as Catanzaro goes out and performs like she normally does, then there’s a good chance of her moving on to National Championships.

“She just needs to stay relaxed, stay in her own little bubble and not let the fact that UCLA is there and Arkansas is there, these teams that consistently go to National Championships, affect her,” Chliszczyk said.

Even though her gymnastics career will end after this season, Catanzaro intends to stay active in the gymnastics community.

“I coach younger kids and younger levels during the summers, but I would definitely love to stay around Towson and come in and help the girls out whenever I could and definitely be a part of that at the least,” Catanzaro said.

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