CORVALLIS, Ore. – The Oregon State gymnastics team, staff, family and fans gathered for a final time last Friday evening for the program’s annual banquet tying the final bow on the 2014 season. The annual event is a last opportunity to recognize the accomplishments of the past season.
Junior all-around competitor Chelsea Tang was named as the program’s Gymnast of the Year. Tang performed in the all-around in every meet in 2014, earning Pac-12 All-Conference First Team and qualifying to NCAA Championships as an individual all-around qualifier. Tang established new personal marks on uneven bars (9.90), balance beam (9.925) and floor exercise (9.90) as well as the all-around (39.500) and earned 10 individual titles on the season. With her newly established career-bests on bars and floor, Tang became the eighth gymnast in OSU history to score 9.90 or better on all four events during her career. She was named the Pac-12 Gymnast of the Week early in the season.
Madeline Gardiner was awarded the Newcomer of the Year. Gardiner’s season started slowly but scored a 9.950 on the floor at the Comfort Suites Invitational earning Pac-12 Specialist of the Week honors. Gardiner joined the all-around at Arizona in March scoring 39.400 and a season-best 9.925 on the beam to earn Pac-12 Newcomer of the Week accolades. She scored 39.350 in the all-around to qualify to NCAA Championships as an individual. At nationals, Gardiner qualified to Individual Event Finals on the beam where she finished third overall and earned All-America honors on beam and in the all-around.
Sophomore Erika Aufiero and freshman Kaytianna McMillan were chosen as the Beavers’ Specialists of the Year. Aufiero performed in the vault and bars lineups in all 11 meets and in the beam lineup twice. She set career-highs on all three events and was second on the team with seven individual titles. McMillan battled a series of injuries throughout the season and performed in the bars, beam and floor lineups when healthy setting season-highs of 9.875, 9.90 and 9.90 respectively. McMillan tied for the regional title on the beam qualifying to NCAA Championships as an individual event qualifier.
Junior Taylor Keeker was chosen as the Most Improved Gymnast in 2014. Prior to this year Keeker, a walkon, had never made the competition lineup, but she opened the 2014 season in the vault and bars lineups. Keeker set a career-best with a 9.90 on the vault and a 9.80 on the bars as she ‘hit’ all 19 of her routines on the year.
Kailie Ponto received the Most Inspirational Award, an honor voted on by the team. Ponto, a junior walkon, entered the competitive lineup for the first time in her career on the floor exercise at Arizona in March. Ponto scored 9.850 in her first career routine and posted the team-high score on the event in two of her four meets.
Leadership awards were a new honor at this year’s banquet with Aufiero and Keeker each being recognized for their contributions as the team’s captains. In addition, Hannah Casey, Katelyn Ohlrich and Ponto also received recognition as Student-Athletic Advisory Council (SAAC) board members. Casey served as the public relations (administration) officer, Ponto was the community relations officer and Ohlrich the team relations officer.