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Gymnastics team headed to nationals in Utah

April 18, 2012 : By BJ Williams/Liberty University News Service

The gymnastics team practices in its facility at The Plaza Shopping Center in midtown Lynchburg.

The Liberty University gymnastics team is headed to the National Association of Intercollegiate Gymnastics Clubs (NAIGC) National Championships in Salt Lake City, Utah, April 19-21 at the Salt Palace Convention Center.

The team, now in its fourth year, enters nationals following a successful meet at the University of North Carolina on March 31, where they posted the top overall team scores.

“We are very excited to be fielding a men’s team for the first time at nationals,” head coach Mariah Dailey said.

The men’s team will be led by senior David Tighe, who earned first place at UNC in both the all-around and the vault. Joining him will be senior Steve Lucia and sophomore Daniel Chapman.

This will be the first year Liberty is taking a men's team to nationals.

On the ladies side, senior Rachel Steele, who won an individual title in the balance beam event at the 2010 nationals in Texas, will lead the Flames along with freshman Alyssa Frost, who took second in the uneven bars at UNC and finished fourth behind Steele in the all-around, and junior Jill Wipperman, who finished second on the balance beam and placed third in the all-around.

“We expect Jill, Alyssa and Rachel to make all-around finals, and a few to make event finals as well,” Dailey said.

Competition begins Thursday with the women’s opening session at 12:30 p.m. and the men’s competition starting at 5:45 p.m. Individual event finals take place Sunday at noon.