MAC Gymnast of the Week
Kristine Garbarino, Western Michigan, Jr., Latham, N.Y./Shaker
Western Michigan junior Kristine Garbarino had two fantastic outings this past week as the Broncos competed in a quad meet at Michigan State and returned to the gym to defeat Ball State two days later. It was the first Mid-American Conference victory for the Broncos since Feb. 24, 2008. Competing as an all-arounder in both meets, Garbarino has posted the highest AA total (38.775) by a MAC gymnast this season. Western Michigan opened the season against No. 11 Penn State, No. 21 West Virginia and No. 24 Michigan State. Garbarino recorded Western Michigan's top score in three out of four events, vault (9.650), bars (9.725) and floor (9.825). Adding a 9.575 on the beam, her all-around total of 38.775 was good enough for third behind Brandi Personett of Penn State's 39.225 and Nicole Curler of Michigan State's 39.000. Garbarino showed she could hold her own against some heavy hitters as Personett is the reigning Big Ten Gymnast of the Year and was a first-team All-American on floor last year. Curler has earned Big Ten honors in each of her three seasons at Michigan State. Against Ball State, Garbarino took first in two events and finished in the top four in all four, also taking the all-around crown with a 38.550. She won the beam with a 9.600 and tied Ball State's Brittney Emmons for first on the floor with a 9.775. She placed third on the vault (9.600) and fourth on the bars (9.575).
MAC Specialist of the Week
Ashley Guerra, Northern Illinois, So., Orland Park, Ill./Carl Sandburg
Ashley Guerra claimed a first and second place in her two events versus Wisconsin-La Crosse on Sunday. Guerra scored a 9.725 on the uneven bars to lead all competitors in the meet, while her 9.625 on beam was good for second place. She earned her top finishes ever on both events.
Additional Nominees for Gymnast of the Week
Katie Simon, Central Michigan, Sr., Bristol, Wis./Westosha
Won four events to help lead a young CMU lineup that featured six gymnasts making their collegiate debuts to victory at Illinois State ... took outright titles in the vault (9.825) and all-around (38.575) while sharing the crown on beam (9.700) and floor (9.750) ... beam and floor scores were the highest she has ever posted in a season-opener.
Natalie Blum, Northern Illinois, Sr., Homer Glen, Ill./Lockport Township
In her first competition in the all-around after she was a late addition to the beam line-up due to an injury to Rachel Adams during warm-ups, Natalie Blum won three events and took a second and a third in NIU's season opening outing versus Wisconsin-LaCrosse. Blum did not have a competition score in the beam before Sunday but came up with a 9.600 to take third in that event. She also led the way among all competitors in the vault and floor exercise with scores of 9.625 and 9.700, respectively. Blum scored a 38.450 in the all around to defeat teammate Tanya Rachan.
Additional Nominees for Specialist of the Week
Kari Dieffenderfer, Central Michigan, Fr., Dawsonville, Ga./Veritas Classical
Posted solid scores on bars (9.575) and beam (9.550) in her collegiate debut to help lead CMU to a season-opening victory at Illinois State ... beam mark placed sixth at the dual while her bars score was good for seventh.
Sarah Wright, Western Michigan, Fr., Cabery, Ill./Tri-Point
Freshman Sarah Wright opened her collegiate career against some of the best competition in the country, facing No. 11 Penn State, No. 21 West Virginia and No. 24 Michigan. Unintimidated, Wright recorded the Broncos' highest individual finish in the quad meet, taking fourth on the beam with a 9.650. She followed up that performance with a second place finish on the beam against Ball State two days later, scoring a 9.550 behind teammate Kristine Garbarino's 9.600. Wright also had her bar score of 9.550 counted towards the team total against Ball State, helping Western Michigan win its first Mid-American Conference meet in nearly two years.