Shreveport – A memorable season awaits the Centennial Gymnastics Program.
The Women begin their 2022 campaign on Friday night with a tough test against fifth-seeded LSU in Baton Rouge, will travel to Alaska and the East Coast during the season and host three home games.
Head coach Jackie Fain will coach his 11e and the final season for the Women alongside new head coach Brittany Harris, who was hired in November. Centenary offers a good mix of veteran experience with youngsters and aims to navigate a tough schedule, starting with the double encounter at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center against the talented Tigers. Friday’s meet will be televised live on the SEC network, giving the ladies a chance to shine in the national spotlight.
The Centenary roster is marked by the return of four All-Americans – seniors Kendall Sanders (Spring Branch, Texas) and Xian Baumgartner (Albuquerque, NM), and juniors Taylor Ann Wilson (Memphis, Tenn.) And Kendall Huff ( Riviera, Texas). Four freshmen will seek to make their mark with 10 other returnees.
“We are returning four All-Americans this year and the experience of those four athletes gives us some immediate depth at the start of the season,” said Fain.
“Kendall Sanders has been a rock-solid performer from the start of her freshman year, competing in all but one competition during her career at Centenary. She is a strong leader on the competitive field as well as her coaches and staff. teammates trust her performance.
“Our other two seniors (Baumgartner and Kendall Knaps (Prairieville, Louisiana) are both coming out of preseason injuries and will be starting a bit slow, but they are on the mend and you should watch them to have a big impact on their. events. They have both been consistent contributors throughout their careers and I know they are thrilled to end their college careers on a strong footing. “
“Other notable performers in the preseason would be junior Lacey Wedge (Belle Chasse, Louisiana) who missed her freshman and sophomore years with injury and a case of mono. She has done extremely well. performed on floor and vault and we can’t wait to see how she performs as the season progresses. Juniors Rose Deshler (Hastings, Minn.) and Leilani Johnson (Wichita, Kan.) are coming out of preseason injuries, but are licensed and ready to start the season. Both should be strong performers on their events this year. “
“New recruit Emma Lavelle (Madeville, Louisiana) has constantly improved and is going to have a huge impact right off the bat. She is a workhorse and has been consistent throughout the preseason, I would expect her to be. ‘she’s competing Our other freshmen, Chlore Armentor (Harvey, Louisiana), Carissa Martinez (Albuquerque, NM) and Mylia Vidtor (The Colony, Texas) are coming and should bring real depth to our training. “
Sanders was named a member of USA Gymnastics’ USA Gymnastics first all-star team in both floor and all-around as a junior last season. She was also named an All-American by the Women’s Collegiate Gymnastics Association as she won her honors on beam (9.681), floor (9.700) and all-around (38.519). Sanders took top all-conference honors after an impressive performance at the annual MICs as she placed fourth in the all-around with a score of 38.650 to take second-team all-around honors and also earned the recognition of the second ground team with a 9.700. She posted a new career high of 9.825 on floor at the USAG Championships on April 10.
Baumgartner was named to USA Gymnastics’ First All-America Team by USA Gymnastics in the all-around last season after a strong performance at the 2021 Women’s College National Championships. She competed on floor for the first time in her championship career and earned a 9.550. Baumgartner also set a new career high in vaulting at the event with 9,525.
Wilson made history by winning the individual title on bars at the 2021 U.S. National Women’s Gymnastics Championship in April in Cape Girardeau. Mo. She scored a stellar 9.875, a new career record, to put an exclamation mark on her season which can only be described as unlikely. Wilson became the National Champion just a day after making her college debut in the event. She made history as the first centennial gymnast to win an individual title at the USAG National Championships in the Division III era (2012-present).
Wilson was named to America’s First All-Star at Bars following her historic performance. She was also named a Corbett Award finalist last July by the Allstate Sugar Bowl, which honors “Outstanding Amateur Female Athlete from the State of Louisiana.”
Huff appeared in eight games last season and competed on bars, floor and vault. She won second-team All-MIC honors in vault with a new career record of 9,800 and has competed in vault in all eight games of the season, floor in seven of eight games, and made his season debut on bars at the USAG Championships in April. 10. Huff also set a season and career record on floor scoring 9.725 on floor at the USAG Championships.
Fain was named the Women’s Collegiate Gymnastics Association Regional Coach of the Year in 2020, earning the honor following a vote from her fellow head coaches. The award is the second major honor Fain has won during her tenure with the Ladies as she was named the 2013 Midwest Intercollegiate Conference Coach of the Year.
She arrived at Centenary ahead of the 2011-12 season and wasted no time in putting her mark on the program as the team’s regional qualifying score of 191.355 was the highest in four seasons. The ladies also qualified for the American National Gymnastics Championships (USAG) as a team, bringing together four All-American gymnasts. She led the Women to their highest team score (193.975 in 2013) since the 2005 season.
During Fain’s superb decade at Centenary, she mentored 16 different student-athletes to 39 All-American honors by the USGA and the Women’s Collegiate Gymnastics Association (WCGA). 18 all-conference honors and two USAG national team appearances while in Centenary. Fain also mentored assistant Morgan Leachman for the 2016-2018 season. Following the USAG Championships in April 2018, Leachman was named USAG Assistant Coach of the Year.
Harris comes to Centenary from Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri, where she has spent the past three seasons as a first assistant coach. Lindenwood, a Division II school, is a member of MIC with Centenary. Harris is only the fourth African-American female gymnastics coach in the NCAA and is reportedly the first in DIII. She is the daughter of former NBA basketball player Steve Harris and Harriet Harris.
In 2019, Harris helped lead the Lindenwood Lions to a record breaking season as they were only the third Division II team in history to advance to the NCAA playoffs, entering the tournament’s first round. from NCAA to LSU. The Lions ended their historic year winning both the MIC Championship and the United States Collegiate Gymnastics National Championships. Lindenwood also walked away with the 2021 MIC Championship. Harris was named the Women’s Collegiate Coaches Association (WCGA) Division II Regional Assistant Coach of the Year in 2019 and 2021, along with several other coaching accolades.
“It has been a pleasure working with Brittany,” said Fain. “We have corresponding philosophies so things have gone really well so far in her transition to Centenary. Brittany loves the family atmosphere we have at Centenary and embraces our culture. The Ladies have quickly adapted to her training. and really enjoy her! She’s a breath of fresh air in the gym, bringing new energy and ideas to our practices. Having a full staff for the first time since I’ve been here has been amazing, and I love collaborate with her and Wendy Carey, our assistant coach. “
Centenary will travel to Cape Girardeau, Missouri, on Jan. 14 after Friday’s season opener to take on foe Midwest Independent Conference SEMO in a double meet scheduled for 6:30 p.m.
The ladies will make their home debut on Sunday, Jan. 23 against the Air Force in a double meet scheduled for 1 p.m. at the Gold Dome. The ladies then hit the road again to face MIC member Texas Woman’s University (TWU) in Denton, TX on Jan. 30 at 2 p.m. ET. Centenary will spend the entire month of February on the road, starting with a pair of meetings in Alaska-Anchorage. February 11 and 13.
The Women will face the University of New Hampshire and the University of Long Island in a triple meet on February 25, then finish the weekend against Springfield College, Rhode Island College and Southern Connecticut State in a quad encounter. February 27 in Springfield, Masse.
Centenary returns home in March for their last two home games of the season, March 4 against SEMO and then March 12 against TWU. The March 4 meet is the annual “Sylvia Keiter Memorial Gather” and March 12 will be the senior night and the final home meet for women’s head coach Jackie Fain who will be retiring at the end of the season.
“The Ladies are looking forward to our two big trips this year; in Alaska and east to the University of New Hampshire and Springfield College,” Fain said. “We were supposed to compete in Alaska last year, but we couldn’t due to COVID restrictions so it will be great to be able to experience such an amazing place and be able to compete while we’re there!”
“Our trip to the East will also be exciting as one of our alumni, Sierra Ponder is the Graduate Assistant at Springfield College. It will be fun to see her in action in her new coaching role and a new experience for the ladies to face their former teammate. “
“We will end our regular season with two home games, which will be a nice break after a busy month of February. Our two home games will be exciting as our meeting on March 4 will be a tribute to our former Lady Sylvia Keiter. It will also be the alumni evening and the celebration of my retirement. March 12 will be designated as our senior evening, which is always a great meeting! “
Check out the full Ladies’ season schedule here: https://www.gocentenary.com/sports/gymnastics/2021-22/schedule
Live stats and live video are available for all home fixtures.
Admission is FREE to all Centennial home sports contests, but be aware of current COVID-19 protocols for fans. Updated COVID-19 information is now available at www.GoCentenary.com.