MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia University gymnastics coach Jason Butts announced today that Jessie Bastardi and Sydney Marler have signed National Letters of Intent to compete at WVU next fall. Additionally, McKenna Linnen will join the Mountaineers as an invited walk-on.
“I’m really excited about this class, especially because of its consistency and improvement over the last few seasons,” Butts said. “They will bring a lot of great skills with them to Morgantown, and they’re each hungry to improve. I’m excited to bring their determination into Cary Gym – I think it will help the team and the program get better and better. Our staff knows this class has the heart and the drive to excel in gymnastics.”
A native of State College, Pennsylvania, Bastardi is a four-year level 10 gymnast out of Centre Elite Gymnastics and is coached by Jen Bundy. A 2016 Junior Olympics National Championships qualifier, she placed eighth on the uneven bars and 19th in the all-around. Prior to her qualification, she finished second on bars, fourth on balance beam and seventh in the all-around at the 2016 Region 7 Level 10 Championships. Additionally, Bastardi claimed the uneven bars title and placed third on vault and ninth in the all-around at the 2016 Pennsylvania Level 10 State Championships.
Bastardi shows career highs of 9.65 on bars, 9.625 on vault and 37.475 in the all-around. A student at Saint Joseph’s Catholic Academy, she is the daughter of Joe and Jess Bastardi.
“Jessie comes from a very athletic family – her mom was a gymnast and her dad was a wrestler at Penn State,” Butts said. “She has improved so much over the last few years. Jessie is very graceful and has a huge variety of skills; she makes big gymnastics look easy. She is very driven, and that’s going to help her excel at WVU. Jessie’s personality meshed right away with the coaching staff, and we’re all excited to see her at WVU.”
A native of New Port Richey, Florida, Marler is a six-year level 10 gymnast out of Suncoast Gymnastics Academy. A three-time Junior Olympics National Championships qualifier, she finished as high as third place on bars at the 2015 JO National Championships. Additionally, she won the bars title at the 2013 Junior Olympic National Invitational Tournament.
A six-time Region 8 Level 10 Championships qualifier, she earned four top-10 finishes at the 2016 championships, including fifth-place showings in the all-around and on floor, a sixth-place finish on beam and a seventh-place finish on bars. Marler has earned 11 top-10 finishes at the Florida Level 10 Championships, including a second-place beam showing at the 2016 championship and a third-place finish in 2015.
Marler shows career highs of 9.625 on vault, 9.6 on bars and 37.825 in the all-around. A student at J.W. Mitchell High, she is the daughter of David and Lisa Marler.
“Sydney is making a long journey from her home in Florida to attend WVU, but she loves this school and team,” Butts said. “Her skill level is awesome, and I know she will make an impact in the lineups right away. She’s very consistent and graceful. There’s a lot of finesse in her skills. Sydney has a very adaptable personality, and I think she’s a perfect fit for this program.”
A native of Canton, Michigan, Linnen is a two-year level 10 gymnast out of Gym America. A two-time Region 5 Level 10 Championships qualifier, Linnen earned back-to-back third-place finishes on beam at the 2015 and 2016 championships. She also placed seventh on the apparatus at the 2015 Michigan Level 10 State Championships.
Linnen shows a career-high score of 37.125 in the all-around. A student at Plymouth High, she is the daughter of Mark and Karen Linnen.
“McKenna brings a lot of talent and finesse to the team,” Butts said. “She’s a really strong beam and floor worker, and she competes beautiful gymnastics. We like her combination tumbling, and her overall style is great. With her endearing personality, I know McKenna will fit in with the team immediately.”