KALAMAZOO, Mich. – Western Michigan gymnastics celebrated its postseason banquet over the weekend to reflect on the accomplishments and milestones reached both individually as well as collectively. The team also took the opportunity to announce the 2022 end-of-season awards, conference award selections, and specialty awards.
The evening began by highlighting the team achievements from the 48th season of Bronco gymnastics. As a group, WMU set a program record for highest opening team score of all-time with a 196,000 against Ball State on January 16. Following this feat, the Broncos broke the school record for highest team score on three different occasions.
On January 23 at home against Bowling Green, WMU posted a 196,225, breaking that on March 5 at Michigan State with a 196,675. The Broncos posted the current record and season-high team score of 196,725 just a week later at home on Senior Day against the Kent State Golden Flashes. That score was also the sixth of the year for the head coach Penny Jernigan‘s squad, making this year’s team the first in program history to score 196,000+ six different times.
Furthermore, Western Michigan finished second in the MAC regular season championship run at 4-2, and first in the conference in terms of National Qualifying Score with a 196,215. That NQS is also the highest in WMU history, and put the Broncos in the NCAA Regional Championship for the second consecutive season. Western Michigan also finished first on beam in the Mid-American Conference each and every week of the season, as well as first overall for the year. WMU is also the lone MAC team to advance to any NCAA postseason meet this year.
To cap off the impressive season as a unit, the Broncos ranked in the top 25 nationally for five weeks, ranking highest at #17, and secured three individual MAC titles on vault, thanks to freshman Halle Faulknerand on beam and floor thanks to junior Payton Murphy.
Next, the 2022 Season Letter Winners were recognized, with 11 members of this year’s team competing in a minimum of 50% of competitions in 2022, as well as a senior letter. Senior Carissa Ludwig earned her fourth letter, while junior Josie Thomas earned her third.
Junior Amanda Grubersophomore Sarah Moravanskyjunior Payton Murphyand sophomore Dani Petrousek each earned their second letters with freshmen Halle Faulkner, Molly Freeman, Rylee Gallmeyer, DonnaKathryn Royduck Cassie St. Clair all registered their first letters. Senior student coach Tess Abbott was recipient of her Senior Letter as well.
This year’s Mid-American Conference Honors were to follow, with six Broncos earning their place on this year’s Academic All-MAC team. This award is earned by student-athletes who have excelled in athletics and academics. To qualify, a student-athlete must have at least a 3.20 cumulative GPA and have participated in at least 50 percent of the contests for that particular sport. Freshman and first-year transfers from the junior college level are not eligible for this award.
The 2022 members from WMU for Academic All-MAC are as follows:
Amanda GruberJunior, Biomedical Sciences, 4.00 GPA
Carissa LudwigSenior, Accounting, 3.90 GPA
Sarah MoravanskySophomore, Biomedical Sciences, 3.71 GPA
Payton MurphySophomore, Nursing, 3.97 GPA
Dani PetrousekSophomore, English, 3.33 GPA
Josephine ThomasJunior, Accounting, 4.0 GPA
Three Broncos also earned All-MAC Team Selections for the 2022 season and tournament. Payton Murphy was named to the All-MAC Second team, marking the second consecutive season she has achieved All-MAC accolades, having earned a first-team spot in 2021. All-MAC teams are selected based on individual conference rankings of National Qualifying Standards.
Halle Faulkner was selected to the Mid-American Conference All-Tournament team on vault, while Amanda Gruber earned All-Tournament team status on beam. Murphy added another pair of accolades to her season, being named to the MAC All-Tournament team on both beam and floor as well. These teams were selected based on individual finishes at the MAC Championships.
Then came time to announce this season’s event MVP Awards, with a member of the 2022 WMU team named as MVP named for vault, bars, beam, and floor, respectively. This year’s Vault MVP is Sarah Moravanskywho registered a total of 98.20 regular season points and competed in every regular season meet.
Sarah won three vault titles this season on Jan. 16 against Ball State, on Jan. 23 against Bowling Green, and on Jan. 28 at the Eastern Michigan Quad Meet, and was an NCAA Regional qualifier individually on vault with an NQS of 9.8. Notably, Moravansky outscored Olympic AA champion Suni Lee at the Auburn NCAA Regional Meet, scoring a 9.85!
Moravansky is also this season’s Uneven Bars MVP, contributing the most points to the team on bars this season with 97,375. She also competed on bars in every meet this year, and won the uneven bars title at the Eastern Michigan Quad Meet on Jan. 28 with a score of 9,875, which also serves as her personal best to this point in her college career.
The 2022 Balance Beam MVP is Amanda Gruber, who contributed 98.3 points to the team on the balance beam this season. Gruber won a pair of beam titles this season, first on Feb. 26 at the Bowling Green (9.9) and again on March 5 at Michigan State (9.95), which is also her personal best.
Additionally, Amanda led the team en route to breaking the all-time record on beam twice this season, culminating in a 49,300 at the MAC Championships. She also hit every single routine this season, as well as her debut season in 2020, and was named MAC Specialist of the Week after registering a 9.9 on beam and 9.825 on floor at the Bowling Green Tri-Meet on Feb. 26. Finally, Gruber qualified for NCAA Regionals on beam individually with an NQS of 9.865, and tallied a 9.875 at the Auburn NCAA Regional Meet.
This season’s Floor Exercise MVP is Payton Murphy, who contributed 98,575 total points on the floor during the regular season. Murphy won four floor titles this season, on Jan. 16 against Ball State (9,925), Jan. 23 against Bowling Green (9,925), at the Bowling Green Tri-Meet on Feb. 26 (9.925) at the MAC Championships on March 19 (9.95), which serves as her collegiate career-high. That score of 9.95 also earned her a Co-MAC Championship on floor, and she recorded the highest floor exercise NQS in school history with a 9.9.
After these awards were presented, the program shifted to the Specialty Awards, beginning with the WMU Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Being that this season’s team had six different student-athletes who achieved 4.0 GPA’s in the Fall 2021 semester, they were all named as co-winners for this year. Those six winners are as follows:
Tess AbbottSenior, Sports Management
Molly FreemanFreshman, Psychology
Amanda GruberJunior, Biomedical Sciences
DonnaKathryn RoyFreshman, Sports Management
Josephine ThomasJunior, Accounting
Margo Van LindenFreshman, Dietetics
Second of the Specialty Awards was WMU Most Improved Gymnast of the Year, which was awarded to Dani Petrousek. Petrousek competed in every meet this season, and posted all-around scores in seven different meets, continuing to improve her execution each meet. At Michigan State on March 5, Dani set her current career-high on bars with a 9.85, and was floor champion at the Eastern Michigan Quad Meet on Jan. 28 with a score of 9,875. Furthermore, she posted a personal best AA score of 39.15 at the MAC Championships, earning her third place in the all-around competition.
Next came the WMU Gymnastics Spirit Award, which was presented to freshman Gigi Singh for her positive attitude and unwavering support of her teammates this season. Throughout the season, Singh could be seen around competitions cheering on her teammates in an incredibly passionate and supportive way, especially if her twin sister, Abby Singh, was competing on vault. Her belief and support undoubtedly assisted in making this season as special and historic as it was.
WMU Freshman of the Year for the 2022 season is DonnaKathryn Roy, who competed in 10 of the 11 meets this season. During the year, Roy was a staple in the bars and floor lineups and also competed in the all-around competition at the Central Michigan Tri-Meet on Feb. 11. Furthermore, DonnaK contributed the most points of any freshman this year with 223.25 points in her initial season.
WMU Gymnast of the Year for the 2022 season is Payton Murphy, who contributed a team-high 390.05 points for the regular season. Murphy captured three all-around titles this year, including a tie of her own program record with a 39,375 in the win over Bowling Green on Jan. 23. Payton broke that record later this season, posting a 39.4 AA score against Michigan State on March 5 for a new personal best while also leading WMU to a new program-best team score of 196.725.
Murphy was named MAC Gymnast of the Week on Jan. 25, and was named MAC Distinguished Scholar Athlete for the 2020-21 academic year and 2021-22 season. March 5 also yielded a new personal best for Payton on bars, posting a 9.9 which is good for seventh highest in WMU history. She also earned a MAC Beam Championship with a 9.925 and a Co-MAC Floor Championship with a 9.95. Additionally, Murphy was an NCAA Regional qualifier individually in the all-around competition for the second consecutive season with an NQS of 39,345, which is also the highest in Western Michigan history.
That left just one award left to be presented for the evening, which was the Vandenberg Award for Outstanding Leadership. This year’s award went to senior student-assistant coach Tess Abbott. This award is one of the most prestigious specialty awards that Western Michigan has, and Tess is the first to earn it since its namesake, Lauren Vandenberg, back in 2017.
Abbott earned the accolade after taking a new role as student-assistant coach this season, demonstrating her ability to overcome adversity and still deliver selfless service to her teammates and the gymnastics program. Head coach Penny Jernigan made a special point to highlight that despite this season being her first in the role, Abbott has displayed this ability for all four years at WMU.
The evening concluded by recognizing this year’s seniors, Tess Abbott spirit Carissa Ludwigfor all of the hard work and dedication over the past four years, as well as a special thank you to the Bronco coaching staff – assistant coach Al Scharn’sstudent-assistant coach Charlotte Tishkoffvolunteer assistant coach Josh Langdon, athletic trainer Kelsie Nimkestrength and conditioning coach Tim Herrmannmeet director Cindy Scharns, and sports supervisor Keanah Smith.
On behalf of the entire Western Michigan gymnastics team, thank you to all fans and supporters of the WMU program for your role in making this historic season all that it was. The team and staff appreciate the passion and love that has been shown all season, and can’t wait to return to competition in 2023. Go Broncos!