Melissa Vituj was Utah's 2003 co-MVP with Annabeth Eberle.
May 4, 2003
SALT LAKE CITY -
The 2003 Utah gymnastics team's accomplishments stretched from Salt Lake City to Lincoln, Neb., site of the NCAA Championships. During their three and a half month competitive season, the Utes won their 21st region gymnastics championship, qualified for a record 28th-consecutive national championship, finished in the nation's top six for the 24th time, earned 10 All-America honors and won their 20th attendance title in the past 22 years.
After handily winning the tough North Central Region Championship, Utah finished second in its session behind host Nebraska at the NCAA Championships and recorded the third best qualifying score across both sessions. The runner-up berth gave Utah its ninth berth into the NCAA Super Six, which started in 1993. The Utes finished sixth at the 2003 NCAA Championships.
Ute individuals also racked up awards. Senior Theresa Kulikowski was honored as the 2003 AAI Senior Gymnast of the Year as voted on by the nation's coaches. She is the first Ute ever to win the award. Kulikowski was also named a Honda Award nominee for the third time. Junior Melissa Vituj was elected NCAA Division I North Central Region of the Year by the region coaches. Sophomore Annabeth Eberle won the NCAA region all-around title, Vituj won the region vault and floor crowns and Kulikowski took the region bar and beam championships, while scoring a perfect 10.0 on the beam.
At the NCAA Championships, Eberle tied for fourth in the all-around and finished sixth on vault, making her a first-team All-American on both. She was also a second-team All-American on the bars. Kulikowski made first-team All-American on bars and beam, winning bars and placing second on beam on team qualifying night. She was denied a chance to add to her three NCAA championships when she injured her shoulder during her bar routine in Super Six competition. Vituj made first-team All-American on the floor exercise and was a second-team All-America all-arounder, tying for ninth. Junior Veronique Leclerc was Utah's top individual performer at the NCAA Championships, placing third on the uneven bars and earning first-team All-America honors. She was a second-team All-American on vault, as was freshman teammate Kristen Riffanacht.
Back in Salt Lake City, Utah earned more than its 20th attendance title (averaging 9,851 spectators a meet). In the classroom, the Ute gymnasts won the athletic department's GPA award for the fourth consecutive year. Kulikowski, a 4.0 student, won the Bud Jack Award for the best GPA by a senior female athlete and the Dahl Award for Academic Excellence. Senior Kim Allan received the Diane Ellingson Most Inspirational Award, sophomore Gritt Hofmann won the Coaches' Award, which honors the most improved gymnast, and Eberle and Vituj shared the Most Valuable Gymnast award.
Two Ute gymnasts who already graduated have finalized their plans for next year. Kulikowski and Kylee Wagner both graduated following the 2002 season and Wagner has secured a position as an interior designer. Kulikowski will apply for physical therapy school. Senior Kim Allan has completed her eligibility, but will stay in school for a fifth year to finish her degree and take prerequisite classes for medical school.
Some former Utes also fared well. Diane Ellingson (1978-81) was inducted into the athletics department's Crimson Club Hall of Fame, joining Ute gymnastics inductees Megan McCunniff-Marsden (1981-84), Linda Kardos (1981-84), Elaine Alfano (1982-85) and Missy Marlowe (1989-92). Erin Prewitt, who never could compete at Utah due to injuries, graduated in May and has been accepted into six medical schools. Lindsay Tanner, a 2002 Ute graduate, was accepted into and will attend medical school at the U.