Kayla Gray of the Town of Tonawanda is going back to the NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Regionals. This time, though, the rest of her University of New Hampshire team is going with her.
Gray, a junior, will lead a strong UNH entry in the balance beam at the University Park Regional, which will be hosted by Penn State today.
Also today, Nicole Radon (Frontier) of Hamburg will be competing with Kent State in the Baton Rouge Regionals hosted by LSU.
This hasn’t been the easiest of seasons for Gray, but she has still managed to become a consistent points producer for the Wildcats.
“I began having back pain at the beginning of the season that was compromising and limiting some of my gymnastics, so my coaches and I decided to focus on one event this season,” the beam, “so as not to make anything worse,” Gray said.
“She is our anchor on beam and absolutely beautiful,” UNH coach Gail Goodspeed said of Gray. “Our last event at the NCAA regionals is beam, so we anticipate a great performance from Kayla. She is training as an alternate on bars in the event that we need her; however, her back has not allowed her to move back into the all around. We are hopeful this will be resolved for her senior year.”
Gray and two of her teammates competed as individuals last year in the Morgantown (W. Va.) Regional, where she finished in a fifth-place tie on balance beam and 13th all-around. Six teams and top individual performers are selected for each of the six regionals. The top two teams and top individuals from each regional will move on to the NCAA championships in Birmingham, Ala., April 18-19.
Having all her teammates with her will make the experience more rewarding this time, she says.
Gray won the beam competition in the East Atlantic Gymnastics League meet two weeks ago, which was hosted by UNH. Floor exercise has been New Hampshire’s strongest team event all season, but the balance beam group isn’t far behind. They led the East Atlantic meet with a 49.075 score. Gray was All-EAGL first team on the beam and made the all-tournament team.
Gray had a strong season on the beam, with a team-high five first places for the Wildcats (21-4, 13-2 EAGL). UNH is ranked 23rd in the country and seeded fourth in the University Park Regional, where top-ranked Florida is the No. 1 seed.
“Right now, though, I’m just enjoying the last few moments of this season,” Gray said. Winning the EAGL championship “was our main goal this season, so we’re very prepared for regionals at Penn State and just looking to have a great experience.”
Radon, a junior, has competed on beam and floor exercise for Kent State, which finished second to Central Michigan in the Mid-American Conference championships.