April 4, 2014
CHICAGO - UIC gymnasts Catherine Dion and Gabrielle May will make their way to Fayetteville, Ark., to represent the Flames and compete at the NCAA Regional, hosted by Arkansas, on Saturday. Competition is scheduled to get underway at 4 p.m. CT at Barnhill Arena.
Dion and May were selected on March 24 as individual competitors in the all-around after posting the top qualifying averages in the South Central region outside of those on a qualifying team. The pair will compete alongside Northern Illinois' Kim Gotlund and Southeast Missouri's Alyssa Tucker and Taryn Vanderpool.
"We are so proud of them," co-head coach Peter Jansson said. "They have been out on four events all season long and have proven to be some of the best all-arounders in the nation. This also shows that they both know how to lead by example, as they are both our captains this year."
"They have had different roads to the NCAAs this year," added Jansson. "Cat has been the top all-arounder in the conference all year long and qualified in the No. 1 spot to Regionals. Gabby had some struggles on a couple of events along the way and really had to step up with some of the best meets of her life in the last three competitions to make it."
Dion concluded the season with a 39.300 AA average after putting up career-best scores along the way on vault (9.800), bars (9.925), beam (9.900), floor (9.875) and in the all-around (39.375). Dion tallied a total of 25 first-place finishes this season, eight of which were in the all-around, as she concluded her MIC career by being named Senior and Gymnast of the Year.
"I am very excited to be representing UIC at the NCAAs," Dion said. "Having the chance to compete in this prestigious competition, along with some of the best gymnasts in the country, means so much to me. It is the perfect way to end my gymnastics career by proudly representing UIC along with my close friend and teammate from Canada and UIC, Gabby May."
May grabbed the last qualifying spot with a 38.670 average after producing her best scores toward the end of the season against Western Michigan (38.875), Illinois State (39.075) and at the MIC Championships (39.000). Additionally, May recorded personal bests on all events during her junior campaign with 9.800 on vault, 9.900 on bars, 9.775 on beam and 9.825 on floor.
"Having the opportunity to compete at the NCAAs gives me the honor of representing UIC at the highest level of collegiate competition," said May. "I have competed to the best of my abilities all season to be able to get to this point and, this season, I took a big step forward with my gymnastics physically and mentally."
"Making it to NCAAs was one of my big goals this year, so preparation really began at the beginning of preseason in August," May added. "I have continued to work hard in the gym these last few weeks to put the final polish on my routines, so I feel extra prepared for this meet."
The top two all-around competitors who are not on an advancing team from each regional will receive an automatic berth to the national championships in Birmingham, Ala., April 18-20.