PISCATAWAY, NJ – The Rutgers University gymnastics team held its annual postseason awards banquet at the Hale Center on the Rutgers campus on Saturday, April 29.
The Scarlet Knights enjoyed a standout season, highlighted by a league-leading 16 members being named to the East Atlantic Gymnastic League (EAGL) All-Academic team, as well as four gymnasts who received All-EAGL recognition.
In addition, RU qualified for its second consecutive trip to the NCAA Regionals and USAG Collegiate Nationals. The Scarlet Knights finished just .050 points out of contention for the finals and an opportunity to defend their 2005 USAG title.
The gymnastics program selected juniors Beth Fittery (Denver, PA) and Lorena Johnson (Lilburn, GA) as its 2006 Co-Most Valuable Players. For Fittery, it was the third consecutive time that she has been tabbed the team’s MVP, while for Johnson it was her first such honor.
Two of the Scarlet Knights top all-around competitors, Fittery and Johnson each received EAGL postseason accolades. Fittery was named the Scholar Athlete of the Year, while Johnson was selected to the All-Vault second team. They each also attained All-America status at the 2006 USAG Collegiate Nationals with Fittery becoming an All-American in the floor exercise and two-time honoree in the all-around. Johnson earned an All-America certificate in both the vault and balance beam competitions.
This year’s Most Improved Gymnast Award was given to sophomore Jacquelyn Verdon (Freehold, NJ) and junior Casey Santangelo (Cherry Hill, NJ). Verdon missed her freshman season but returned in 2006 to make an appearance for the Scarlet Knights on beam. Santangelo, who competed on the balance beam in all but two meets last year, reemerged as one of Rutgers’ top performers this season. She competed in every meet in 2006, averaging a 9.334 on bars, 9.407 on beam and 9.513 in the floor exercise.
The Noble Award, which recognizes the gymnast who displays outstanding athletic ability, consistency, sportsmanship and dedication to the team, went to senior co-captain Lauren Sisler (Newport, VA). Last year’s recipient of the Most Improved Player Award, Sisler competed in all but one meet for the Scarlet Knights, averaging a 9.431 on bars and a 9.581 in the floor exercise
Sisler also shared the 100 percent award with fellow senior Jamye Shelton (Griffin, GA). The 100 percent award is given to gymnasts for perfect routines performed throughout the season.
Rutgers finished its 2006 campaign with an overall record of 13-9 and a seventh place finish at the 2006 EAGL Championships.