GymHawks Sign Four Prep Standouts

Jan. 28, 2011

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IOWA CITY, Iowa – The University of Iowa women’s gymnastics team has signed a talented group of four gymnasts to join the GymHawks for the 2011-2012 season. With ties from southern Florida, the Midwest and Canada, Head Coach Larissa Libby and the Hawkeyes will welcome Sarah Wolford, Sydney Hoerr, Jessica Morreale and Emily Bigras.

Wolford is a fourth year, level 10 competitor from the Tampa Bay Turners out of St. Petersburg, FL. With six Regional Junior Olympic appearances and two National Junior Olympic appearances, Wolford will bring a wealth of experience to the Hawkeyes. Most recently, she has earned silver medals on bars in the 2009 and 2010 Level 10 Regional competitions. Additionally, Wolford is an honor student in the National Honor Society and Spanish Honor Society, all while turning in over 200 community service hours to various charities. Wolford plans to pursue a degree in business while at Iowa.

“Iowa is a perfect fit for me,” said Wolford. “I love the campus, the coaches and the girls, and wanted to go to a place where I could make a significant contribution to the team. I have also always wanted to go to a Big Ten school to get away from Florida and Iowa is definitely doing that for me. The coaches, for one thing, are just amazing and they felt like family to me from the very beginning. That, more than anything else, was the most important factor in choosing where I would go. After my initial visit, I knew that none of the other schools I visited could compare.”

Sydney Hoerr and Jessica Morreale are both from Illinois and chose to keep their talents in the Midwest. Hoerr, a senior at Tri-Valley High School in Bloomington, IL, also holds national experience on her résumé. Most recently, Hoerr competed as a level 10 competitor at the 2010 Region 5 Regionals. Her score of 37.075 in the all-around earned her third place and a trip to nationals for the second time.

“I had the opportunity to visit seven or eight other universities and Iowa remained my top choice throughout the entire process,” said Hoerr. “After I spent time with the coaches and the gymnastics team, I felt like I was a part of their family. I loved the atmosphere in the gym and the campus was awesome. I can’t wait to experience being a Hawkeye.”

Morreale is a native of DeKalb, IL, and competes as a Level 10 for Energym. On the national level, Morreale competed in the 2010 Junior Olympic National Championships in Dallas, TX, earning top-20 finishes on bars, beam and in the all-around, including a fourth place finish on bars (9.425).

“Iowa was a perfect choice for me because of the gymnastics team and coaches,” said Morreale. “The girls are not only great gymnasts and practice hard, but they have fun while doing it. From the first time I met them they have been so inviting and have made me feel like a part of the team. I look forward to sharing in that experience and being a big contributor next year. I know I will get a great education and basically, Iowa has the whole package. I get to look forward to four amazing years with the gymnastics team and coaches and hopefully making memories and friends that will last a lifetime.”

Bigras, Iowa’s fourth recruit for next season, trains at Bluewater Gymnastics Club out of Sarnia, Canada. Bigras competed at the Canadian Championships and Provincial National Open in 2009 and 2010, as well as the WOGA Classic. She was the Provincial champion in the all-around in both 2009 and 2010. She also finished among the top-10 of every event she’s competed in at the Canadian Championships the last two years.

“I chose Iowa because I feel it has a great blend of academics and athletics,” said Bigras. “When I visited Iowa I felt very comfortable with the gymnastics program, coaches and team. The gym atmosphere was very welcoming and the thought of competing as a GymHawk really excited me. I feel this was the best choice for me.”

Meanwhile, the GymHawks will continue to work towards a Big Ten title for 2011. Their season continues Jan. 29 in Champaign, IL, when they take on the Fighting Illini from Illinois. Competition is scheduled to begin at 12 p.m. (CT) and will be a co-ed meet as the Iowa men’s team will take on the Illinois men. The women’s event will be televised live on the Big Ten Network, beginning at 12 p.m. Mike Leiderman and Elise Ray will call the action, which will be broadcast in high definition.