Dave Kuzara enters his fourth season at the helm of the Western Michigan gymnastics program entering 2013 after being introduced as the sixth head coach in school history on Sept. 30, 2009. Western Michigan has made steady strides in each of Kuzara's first three seasons.2012:
Western Michigan had one of its best seasons in program history, finishing second in the Mid-American Conference regular season and third at the MAC Championships. WMU ended 2012 ranked 39th nationally.
The team won seven of its first eight dual meets and five of the team's overall losses were to programs ranked in the top 25 in the nation. Western Michigan defeated then-ranked No. 21 Kent State in the MAC opener, 192.650 to 192.025, for the Broncos' first win over the Golden Flashes since Jan. 22, 2006.
The Broncos tallied four of the program's top-10 all-time scores, including three of the top four, and recorded WMU's highest total ever at the MAC Championship with a 195.000, ranking fourth-best all-time overall.
It was the second straight year Western Michigan finished in the top three at the conference meet, the first time accomplishing that feat since winning back-to-back titles under current Athletic Director Kathy Beauregard in 1987 and 1988.
Western Michigan broke the school vault record, setting a new mark of 49.175 against Ball State at home on February 26, and scored a 48.925 at Central Michigan on March 17, ranking second all-time.
The Brown & Gold had four gymnasts reach the podium at the MAC Championships, led by junior Caroline O'Brien's runner-up finish on the uneven bars, and senior Cepeda Carter was named Second Team All-MAC following a third-place finish in the all-around with a career-best 38.975.
Lauren Bledsoe, Hannah Brooks, Caroline O'Brien and Taylor Zondervan collected weekly MAC awards during the regular season, Bledsoe and Zondervan being named Gymnasts of the Week, while Brooks and O'Brien earned Specialist honors.
Four gymnasts, Bledsoe, Carter, O'Brien and Zondervan also qualified and competed at the NCAA regionals, hosted by Auburn University on April 7.
Academically, seven Broncos carried a 4.0 grade-point average in the fall semester, and 15 members carried a GPA 3.0 or better, 11 of those higher than a 3.5. Four Broncos were selected Academic All-MAC, and seven others were recognized as honorable mentions. Both Stacy Kramer and Zondervan were named First Team Academic All-District.
The Broncos also recorded the program's best ever score at the MAC Championships, with a 194.150, and its third place finish was the highest since winning the title in 2006. WMU had six top 10 finishes and was led by freshmen in three out of four events. Throughout the season, WMU had two individuals recognized as MAC Gymnasts of the Week in Kristine Garbarino and Caitlin Sullivan.
WMU sent three gymnasts to the NCAA Regional held by the University of Alabama and just missed out qualifying as a team for the regional. The Brown & Gold finished 2011 ranked No. 37 in the nation, one off making the 36-team cut. Garbarino qualified as an all-arounder for the third straight year, becoming the first Bronco to earn the invite three times in a career. Sophomore Caroline O'Brien and freshman Kelsey Turnquist made their first regional trip, O'Brien competing on the uneven bars and Turnquist on the balance beam.
The Broncos got the job done in the classroom as well. The team was honored by the NCAA for posting an Academic Progress Rate in the top 10 percent of their respective sport and had the 12th highest team GPA in the nation with a 3.5190. Four Broncos earned Academic All-MAC honors (Garbarino, O'Brien, Stacy Kramer, Sarah Wright) and 14 individuals collected NACGC Scholastic All-America honors.2010:
Western Michigan made vast improvements in Kuzara's first season, as the Broncos concluded 2010 with six more victories than the previous year. WMU posted an 8-13 regular season record, marking the most wins since 2006. The Broncos' season-high score of 193.925 was the highest team total in three years and WMU's 192.875 at the MAC Championships was its best showing at the conference meet since winning the title in 2006. The 2010 team featured just two seniors and one true junior.
Garbarino continued to blossom under Kuzara, as she was named First Team All-MAC, Academic All-MAC and earned MAC Gymnast of the Week honors in back-to-back weeks to start off the season. Garbarino also earned a bid as an at-large all-arounder to the NCAA Central Regional, where she placed 14th. At the MAC Championships, Garbarino tied for first on the floor with a 9.850. It was just the 14th time in school history WMU produced a conference champion and just the fourth time ever on floor.
Boasting a 3.6323 grade-point average, Western Michigan placed fourth in the National Association of Collegiate Gymnastics Coaches/Women (NACGC/W) 2010 Academic Team Rankings. In total, four Broncos recorded GPAs of 4.0 and 11 of the team's 15 members had GPAs of 3.5 or better, earning individual honors.
PRIOR TO WMU:
Success is nothing new to Kuzara, who had 10 years of head coaching experience prior to his arrival in Kalamazoo. Kuzara built a 100-68 career record at the University of Massachusetts, where he was the head coach from 1992 until UMass dropped the program, in addition to five other sports, in 2002. Kuzara was named Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year three different seasons (1996, 1997, 2002), and hisUMass teams won back-to-back A10 titles (1996, 1997) and had five runner-up finishes during his tenure. He qualified individuals to NCAA Nationals on four different occasions and his teams qualified to the NCAA Regionals nine out of 10 years. Kuzara coached Jill Fisher to a third place finish on the floor at the NCAA Championships, on her way to First Team All-America status. Academically, UMass garnered 35 NACGC Academic All-America recognitions.
Kuzara arrived at Western Michigan after serving in an assistant role at the University of Arkansas, where he helped the Razorbacks to a program-best fifth place finish at the 2009 NCAA Championships. In 2008, Arkansas placed 10th at the NCAA Championships. Primarily in charge of coaching and developing floor exercise routines, the Razorback floor team was ranked in the top five all season and as high as No. 1 in 2009. Kuzara worked with three All-Americans on the floor during his time at Arkansas and was responsible for recruiting activities in Region 5 (Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky).
Prior to his three seasons at Arkansas, he was an assistant at West Virginia from 2003-2006, helping the Mountaineers to the 2004 EAGL team title and three NCAA Regional appearances. Primarily an uneven bars coach at West Virginia, Kuzara's bar workers only counted one fall during the entire 2006 season.
In addition to his duties in the gym, Kuzara assisted student-athletes in the classroom helping the Mountaineer gymnastics team improve its overall grade point average from a 2.6 to a 3.34. In addition, the program posted seven NACGC/W academic all-scholars in 2005 and had nine in 2006.
Kuzara also served as an assistant coach at Michigan from 1991-93, where he helped the Wolverines to two Big Ten titles (1992, 1993) and its first-ever NCAA Championship appearance in 1993. Kuzara was named 1992 NCAA Central Region Assistant Coach of the Year. He helped oversee the development of Beth Wymer, who became U-M's first national champion on the uneven bars in the '93 season.
From 1980-1991, Kuzara worked as a private club gymnastics coach.