Season ends at NCAAs

Senior gymnasts Kacy Catanzaro, Lindsay Poplaski and Avis Hixon represented Towson at the NCAA South Central Regional Meet this weekend. While none of them will be moving on to the championship meet, the weekend wasn’t a total loss.

“I think it was a great meet for the three girls and I think they did a fantastic job and I think it was a fantastic weekend,” Head Coach Vicki Chliszczyk said. “Obviously it would have been great if someone had qualified, but we knew that that was a long shot. They take the top two all-arounders from non-advancing teams, so Kacy or Lindsay would have had to be one of the top two gymnasts, based on the results, not from Arkansas or UCLA to move on. Kacy wound up being fourth out of non-advancing teams.”

Hixon only competed on floor and finished with a 9.775. To move on, she needed to have the top score.

“I think first event up, she hit her routines, she did a great routine and she did what she could do,” Chliszczyk said.

Poplaski scored a 9.65 on vault, 9.55 on uneven bars, 9.50 on balance beam and a 9.075 on floor. She ended with a 37.800 all around score, placing her 11th overall. Chliszczyk said she was proud of the way Poplaski performed during the meet.

“She had a mistake on floor first event, but she came back and hit the other three events the way that she can,” Chliszczyk said. “She was calm, she didn’t let the atmosphere or the other teams affect her at all, so I was very proud with how she handled it.”

Catanzaro scored a 9.60 on vault and uneven bars, a 9.65 on balance beam and a 9.875 on floor. She finished with a ninth place overall all around score with a 38.775. Despite her landings being a little off, she said she was happy with her scores and felt much better on beam this week, even though the thought of competing after UCLA made her nervous.

“I was really happy with my scores, except for floor, obviously, I didn’t get as high of a score as I have gotten in this past season. But my landings were a little off,” she said. “I had a few little mess-ups in warm-ups on beam because I was a little bit jumpy. I was a little nervous, but I gave myself a little pep talk and got it together. And then when I competed, it was pretty solid. So I was really excited.”

Catanzaro was also voted the NCAA Regional Gymnast of the Year, only the second gymnast in school history to receive the honor.

She said she wished she had known she was going to get the honors so that she could have soaked in the moment better.

She said they announced her as Gymnast of the Year after the team awards, and UCLA had just won, so she couldn’t really hear what they were saying. It wasn’t until she met up with Chliszczyk and Assistant Coach Becky Schaller that she found out what award for which she was being recognized.

“When they announced my name, I just heard ‘Gymnast of the Year’ and I thought that they were re-recognizing people for their conference, so I thought they were saying how I had won ECAC Gymnast of the Year,” she said. “I stood up and waived like everyone else did, but I wasn’t like, ‘oh, my gosh,’ because I had already gotten that, I thought. When I got off I saw Vicki and Becky so excited and I didn’t know why. And then they told me and I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, that’s so amazing,’ because Vicki was saying that means you beat everyone from Florida and Georgia, and started naming off all these big schools.”

While competing after UCLA made Catanzaro nervous at first, she said the team was welcoming and included her in team cheers and traditions. She said they made her feel like a part of their team and cheered her on like her Towson teammates would.

“One thing they do is if someone had just competed, then that person goes and talks to the next person before they compete and just says some encouraging words,” she said. “And since I go after all the UCLA girls, their anchor person always came up and talked to me and gave me a little talk just like they did for the rest of the team. I didn’t feel like I was just an individual there all by myself. I felt like I was a part of this team for that day.”

The three Towson gymnasts had looked at their schedules, and it looked like they would get to see each other compete. However, Catanzaro said she was able to watch Poplaski’s floor and beam routine, but missed Hixon’s floor routine.

“The first event I had was bars, and Avis was on floor, and I went to jump for my mount and her music started playing and I heard it and I was like, ‘Aw, Avis.’ But it kind of made me feel more comfortable because I recognized her music,” she said.

Towson’s goal, since Chliszczyk took over as coach, has been to go, as a team, to the NCAA Tournament. With the progress Towson made this season and sending three gymnasts to the meet, she thinks that it won’t be long before the whole team is going.

“We jumped up nine rankings this year, so we only have seven to go,” she said. “If we jumped up nine in one year, it’s definitely a goal I think is attainable in the near future.”

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