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News ReleaseLINCOLN, Neb. -- Southern Utah's Elise Wheeler will not only be bringing home All-American first-team honors on bars and beam and second-team All-American honors on floor, but the junior will also be bringing home NCAA hardware after a sixth-place finish on the balance beam at the NCAA National Championships on Saturday night.
Wheeler qualified as one of 16 gymnasts in the nation on bars and one of 12 gymnasts in the nation on beam at the individual championships at the NCAA National Championship. The San Diego native wrapped up her bar set with a 9.7875 to finish 12th on the event. Scores were tabulated as six judges scored each event with the highest and lowest scores thrown out and the rest averaged.
The balance beam was where Wheeler really stood out, finishing tied for first on the event during the preliminary session on Thursday night. Wheeler's Saturday night showing was almost as flawless as she scored a 9.875 to finish sixth. The finish also garnered a new piece of decor for Wheeler as the top eight finishers each received awards.
The performances marked the first time that Southern Utah gymnastics was represented in the NCAA Gymnastics Championship finals. Wheeler had qualified in the all-around in 2008, but had failed to make it past the preliminary round. She was also the first All-American for SUU gymnastics, earning the three All-American citations at once.
"I don't think that people will understand how huge this is for our program and the University," head coach Scott Bauman said of the entire experience. "This was amazing for Wheels and I think the crowd really got behind her because she was from the 'little' school. She represented the University incredibly well."
The completion of the meet also marks the closure of the gymnastics season, but also marks the beginning of the off-season as SUU gymnastics looks to qualify for the NCAA National Championships as a team in the near future.