MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Throughout the 2012 preseason, the West Virginia University gymnastics team and staff will periodically check in with Mountaineer fans, providing updates on the progress made in Cary Gym and the weight room. The team also will share stories from its multiple team-bonding trips and activities.
Tumblers’ Tales is now featuring the Mountaineers’ eight newcomers, with the 14th entry centering on freshman Lia Salzano. A Centerville, Va., native, Salzano was a two-time Junior Olympics National Championships qualifier at Capital Gymnastics. A level 10 gymnast, she also was an Eastern National Championships qualifier and finished in 29th place in the senior ‘A’ division at the 2009 National Championships.
A communications major, the WVU coaches believe Salzano has the potential to compete her best gymnastics near the end of her rookie season.
MSNsportsNET.com: You competed on vault, bars and floor at the Gold-Blue scrimmage at Pitt last weekend. How did it feel to finally compete in a Mountaineer uniform?
Lia Salzano: It was so much fun. It was really exciting to be able to compete a couple events and to be involved in the meet outside of just cheering. It was a lot more fun than club gymnastics.
When you are competing for your college team, you have all of these teammates behind you, cheering you on and encouraging you. When you are competing in club gymnastics, you’re on your own.
Were you nervous for your first WVU competition?
Surprisingly, not really. I thought I was going to be a lot more nervous than I was. I think having my team’s support made it easier.
Your classmates Beth Deal and Dayah Haley also competed last Saturday. Was it nice to have your fellow freshmen by your side?
Yes. They are in the same position I am in, and we can talk about everything with each other.
Your floor routine is full of energy, and when you compete it you seem very passionate about it. Is that a routine you’ve had for awhile?
I’ve had it for three years. I really like it. I like that my teammates do my dance with me; that shows that they’re just as in to it. When they get excited, I get excited, too!
Is there one event you’re really looking forward to competing this year?
Definitely bars. I’m hoping to have an upgraded routine in January. I also thought floor was a lot of fun to compete last Saturday. I didn’t like to compete floor in club gymnastics, but now I get to show off my routine. It’s a lot of fun. Plus, I have a cheering section!
Also, even though I didn’t compete it at Pitt, I’m really going to push to make my beam routine competition-ready.
The coaches believe that your gymnastics will get stronger as this season progresses. Do you agree with that assessment?
Yes, definitely. I’ve already looked back at the Gold-Blue scrimmage and taken notes on areas I need to improve. I already know that I’m going to try to get better before our Jan. 8 season opener.
I try to build on each competition and work toward perfecting my routines.
Do you think your first semester at West Virginia went by quickly?
It flew by! It seriously feels like I just moved into the dorm, and now preseason is over and we’re getting ready for our first meet.
Did you have any trouble finding the balance between school and practice?
It wasn’t too bad. I went straight from school to practice throughout my club career, so I was used to it. It’s almost the same thing, if not easier, although the studying is a lot harder in college!
You went to the same club gym as former Mountaineer Faye Meaden. Did you know her?
Yes, we were in the same group for a couple of years. We were really close; we’re a lot alike.
Did she help sell WVU to you?
I think so. I really looked up to Faye a lot. Knowing that she went to WVU, and she liked it, I knew the school would be a good fit for me.
What are some of your goals for the 2012 season?
I would like to compete each event at least once. As a team, I think it would be cool if we won the East Atlantic Gymnastics League Championship and went further in the NCAA tournament then the team did last year.
What are you looking forward to doing over the holiday break?
I’m looking forward to spending time with my family. All of my family lives close to my hometown. I used to get to see them a lot, and I don’t get to spend as much time with them anymore. I’m really excited to go home and see everyone!
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