April 16, 2012
Extending its stunning winning streak, the University of Bridgeport (UB) women’s gymnastics team won its fourth straight USA Gymnastics Collegiate National Championships at the Webster Bank Arena over the weekend in front of more than 1,600 cheering fans who in only a handful of years have watched the team catapult from virtual obscurity to establish itself as an unbeatable juggernaut.
UB’s Purple Knights topped the championships with 195.575 points, outpacing second-place Texas Woman’s University (193.7), third-place Pennsylvania (193.475), and the U.S. Air Force Academy (191.075), which came in fourth.
UB Coach Byron Knox won Coach of the Year for the second time in three years.
With its victory on Friday, the Purple Knights join Texas Women’s as only two teams to have won four consecutive national titles.
“We are making history,” junior Monica Mesalles Sallares told the Hartford Courant.
Mesalles Sallares won the individual all-round competition and three gold medals in individual events for vault, balance beam, and floor. Individual events were held Saturday, April 14, at Hubbell Gymnasium.
In individual rounds, UB’s Lissette La Fex came in second in the uneven bars. Senior Emily Repko won third in the balance beam. And Sasha Tsikhanovich won third in floor exercise.
“Congratulations to Coach Byron Knox and all members of the UB women’s gymnastics team for their phenomenal fourth straight national championship title!” said President Neil Albert Salonen. “A success on this grand scale could not have been accomplished without the incredibly dedicated efforts of a very large number of people supporting our athletesâthe athletic staff, facilities, University relations, publications, and our partners in UNICCO, Securitas, and Sodexoâand the very enthusiastic cheering from the fellow athletes and students, faculty, and staff who were able to attendâin many cases with members of their families. A victory for one is a victory for all; I hope everyone takes a moment to congratulate our team, and each other, for the proud victory of the women’s gymnastics team this past weekend.”
UB Vice President of University Relations Mary-Jane Foster noted that “people from all over the country came to the city of Bridgeport and the region. I’ve met families, coaches, friends, fansâfrom Virginia, from Texas, out Westâwho flew or even drove hundreds of miles to see these teams, and truly, no one was disappointed. And most especially, I’m so proud of our women gymnasts for their grit, discipline, and grace. Byron Knox is an extraordinary coach and mentor to an exceptional group of young women. I salute them all on this fourth national championship title.”