Four Broncos Headed to NCAA Regionals
KALAMAZOO, Mich.- Four Western Michigan gymnasts have qualified for the NCAA regional competition as individuals. WMU missed out on making the regionals as a team, finishing the season ranked No. 39 in the nation, three off the 36-team cut.
Western Michigan will field two of the five at-large all-arounders, seniors Cepeda Carter and Taylor Zondervan. Junior Caroline O'Brien will be making her second trip to the regional in as many years, competing on the uneven bars. After serving as an alternate in her first season, sophomore Lauren Bledsoe is slated to compete on the floor exercise.
As members of the Central Region, the four Broncos will travel to Auburn University to compete on Saturday, April 7 at 7 p.m. (ET) at Auburn Arena.
Six teams, five all-around competitors and one individual event specialist (who are not on qualifying teams) are chosen for the regionals, based on regional qualifying scores (RQS).
The top-18 teams are seeded on a national basis, based on RQS. Teams 19-36 were assigned to a regional site based on geographic proximity. All-around competitors and event specialists are assigned within their respective regions.
Carter recently earned Second Team All-Mid-American Conference honors after placing third at the MAC Championships with a career-high 38.975. Carter has an all-around RQS of 38.790.
In her only season competing as a Bronco, senior Zondervan was one of WMU's consistent performers in 2012. She was named MAC Gymnast of the Week on Jan. 23, and totaled 11 first-place finishes in various events throughout the regular season. Zondervan did not compete as an all-arounder at the MAC Championships, but had top-10 finishes in two of the three events she appeared in, placing third on floor and eighth on uneven bars. She has an all-around RQS of 38.865.
O'Brien will look to improve on her 18th-place finish on uneven bars at last year's regional. O'Brien collected the MAC Specialist of the Week award on Feb. 6 and had WMU's best finish at the MAC Championships, placing second on bars with a 9.850. She won the bars competition in three regular-season meets and finished runner-up in two others. O'Brien has an RQS of 9.815.
Bledsoe served as an alternate on floor exercise last year and qualifies this year with an RQS of 9.805. Bledsoe also garnered a MAC Gymnast of the Week nod on Feb. 27 and recorded a team-season high and career-best 9.900 on floor during the regular season. Her routine of 9.825 on floor placed her 10th at the MAC Championships.
As a team, Western Michigan finished second in the MAC regular season and third at the conference championships. WMU had an RQS of 194.590, ranking the Broncos 39th in the nation.