March 22, 2002
The Mid-American Conference named its Gymnast of the Year, Senior Gymnast of the Year and Freshman Gymnast of the Year at the MAC Gymnastics Championship banquet held at the Alumni Center on the campus of Ball State University on Friday, March 22.
Eastern Michigan junior Natalie Hashimoto was named the conference's Gymnast of the Year for the second straight season. Bowling Green's Marny Oestreng was honored as the top senior gymnast in the league and Central Michigan's Kara Reighard was tabbed as the league's best newcomer.
Hashimoto set the conference-high mark on the vault, posting a 9.950. Hashimoto is currently ranked 14th in the nation on the event, as well as 25th in the all-around. She has finished second or higher in the all-around in eight of the Eagles' nine meets this season. She is ranked third in the MAC on the bars (9.875) and all-around (39.325) and stands at second on floor (9.925). In her three years at Eastern Michigan, Hashimoto now holds at least a portion of every school record and holds the league standards on the vault (10.000), beam (10.000) and all-around (39.725)
Oestreng competed in every meet for the Falcons during her senior season and stands second in the conference on both the floor (9.925) and all-around (39.400). She is also ranked third on bars (9.875) and fifth on the beam (9.825). Oestreng, a four-time Gymnast of the Week this season, is the Falcons' all-time top performer in each of the four events and in the all-around. Oestreng leads the conference with most championship wins, posting eight event titles. The 1999 NCAA National Champion on the floor event, Oestreng was named the Gymnast of the Year and Freshman of the Year during her first year.
Reighard made an immediate impact in the Central Michigan record book during her freshman campaign, posting the fifth best score in the all-around (39.325). She has been named the Gymnast of the Week three times this season and has placed in the top three of the all-around competition in nine of the Chippewas 11 meets this season. Reighard competed in every meet for Central Michigan this season and holds season highs of 9.850 on vault and bars, 9.825 on beam, 9.900 on floor and 39.325 overall. Reighard is ranked third in the conference in the all-around and floor and ranked fourth on the floor and bars.
The Mid-American Conference also honored Bowling Green as the league's regular season champion. The Falcons posted a perfect 6-0 record in league meets and a 17-1 mark overall. The 2002 BGSU squad now holds the mark as the winningest team in school history.
The 2002 Mid-American Conference Gymnastics Championship kicks off on Saturday, March 23, at Worthen Arena on the campus of Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana.