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GEC Announces 2024 End of Year Awards

March 23, 2024

New Haven, CT – The Gymnastics East Conference announced the winners of its six major end of season awards on Saturday night following the conclusion of its third annual GEC Championship.

Five student-athletes and two coaches were honored with awards, including Melanie Stone of Cornell University who was selected as the Gymnastics East Conference Woman of the Year, and Yale head coach Andy Leis who was tabbed as the third GEC Head Coach of the Year.

The GEC Woman of the Year candidates were nominated by their respective teams and the winner selected by a committee of coaches and administrators from each school. Nominees were rated based on academic achievement, service and leadership, and a personal statement. Woman of the Year nominees must hold a minimum 3.25 GPA and be a team member for at least three years. The remaining awards were selected by a vote involving the league’s eight head coaches.

Woman of the Year

Melanie Stone (Cornell)

Holding an impressive 4.123 cumulative GPA, Melanie Stone will graduate in May with a  major in Biological Studies. During a research internship at the University of Miami in 2022,

Melanie had the privilege of becoming involved with the community in the greater Miami area by shadowing the Gamechanger vehicles, which brought cancer screenings to underserved communities via a mobile clinic. This summer, Stone will start Medical School at the University of Miami, where she will pursue a career in sports medicine. Melanie hopes to use her experiences, knowledge, and training to help young athletes avoid some of the struggles she has faced. Stone hopes that reaching even one young athlete would help her pay forward the many blessings she feels she has received from collegiate athletics.

Gymnast of the Year

Skye Kerico (Penn)

Three time 2024 GEC Gymnast of the Week, sophomore, Skye Kerico, has been a game changing competitor for the Quakers on all four events this season. Since adding in floor mid-season, she has shattered personal bests and school records in the all-around.

This season Skye has earned personal bests of 9.825 on vault, 9.875 on bars, 9.875 on beam and 9.9 on floor. She broke Penn’s individual all-around record with a 39.325, a 12-year old school record and now holds the #1, #2 and #4 all-around scores in program history! Amongst the GEC conference, she is ranked #5 on vault with a 9.805 NQS, #2 on bars with a 9.835 NQS, #5 on beam with a 9.8 NQS and #6 on floor with a 9.835 NQS. She is also currently the #1 ranked all-arounder in the GEC with a 39.185 NQS! This season she has earned 2 vault, 4 bars, 2 beam and 5 all-around titles. Skye’s stellar performances have helped lead the team to its highest NQS in program history of 195.45, and the highest home team score in program history of 195.8, contributing to an Ivy Classic team title. She was also an integral part of the Quaker’s season high score of 196.05, the third highest score in program history as well as GEC regular-season champions! Skye also serves as a leader on the team as the sophomore class representative on the team’s leadership council. The coaching staff is so proud of Skye’s commitment to the team and stellar performances all year long!

Specialist of the Year

Caroline Cascadden (WCU)

Senior Captain, Caroline Cascadden has had an incredible season. Her leadership, work ethic and dedication has helped her team accomplish many of their season goals. She is a beam and floor specialist who shines on both events. 

In the GEC she is ranked tied for 3rd on balance beam and 6th on floor exercise, earning first team All-GEC on both events. Caroline came into this year full of a new confidence that radiates from her. Caroline tied the balance beam record two times with a 9.875 this season before she finally broke it, scoring a 9.9 during her senior meet. Her performance also helped her team break their team balance beam record that meet scoring a 49.15. Caroline is just as impressive on floor exercise, where she performs with such joy.  She never fails to disappoint the crowd and finished off her last season tying yet another record, scoring a 9.925.  She also helped her team break the team floor exercise record two times this season, first scoring 49.175 then a 49.275. Caroline was named GEC Specialist of the Week during week 10.  

Newcomer of the Year

Ella Tashjian (Yale)

Ella has made a tremendous impact on three events in her first year at Yale. She has been a reliable performer on vault and beam and has moved into the anchor spot in Yale’s floor lineup.

At this year's Ivy Championship, our highest team score in program history, Ella tied for first on vault with a 9.825 and placed second on floor with a 9.875. Ella biggest impact this year for the Bulldogs has been on floor where she has scored a 9.9 three times and helped the Bulldogs achieve their 4th highest floor score in program history two times this season with a 49.225. Ella is currently ranked 2nd in the GEC with a 9.875 NQS on floor. Ella is the whole package. She comes into the gym with a smile every day, and it is clear she loves the sport of gymnastics. She is willing to do anything for her team and demonstrates that daily with her dedication, loyalty, and positivity. Ella leads by example, puts her head down and embraces the hard work. 

Performance of the Year

Jordan Coleman (WCU)

During the Golden Ram’s first meet of the season, Jordan hit the bar routine of her life and broke the WCU school record on bars. This was a goal Jordan had all of last year, but was not able to accomplish. 

It was particularly special that it happened this year, because one of WCU Gymnastics’ alumni, Meghan Brannon, who held the bar record, tragically died this past fall. In some strange way, the team felt like Meghan was cheering Jordan on and saying “It’s okay, you can break this record now.” This record will always be special to the Golden Rams because the two events collided this season in a very supernatural way.  

Assistant Coach of the Year

Stephanie Stephens (WCU)

In her 7th year as WCU Assistant Coach, Stephanie Stephens is named the 2024 GEC Assistant Coach of the Year. Stephanie is a part-time employee of WCU, but goes above and beyond her job requirements to help the Golden Rams continue to grow a successful program. In addition to coaching, Stephanie leads social media, helps with alumni relations and is a huge help with fundraising. 

This season, sadly one of the Golden Rams’ alums and former teammates of Stephanie passed away suddenly. This was obviously devastating to all of us, but particularly difficult for Stephanie. Meghan and Stephanie were like sisters. Stephanie put her love for Meghan and WCU Gymnastics together and organized and fundraised a scholarship in Meghan’s name, and a Memorial Meet in honor of Meghan. Stephanie did an excellent job organizing all of this on top of all her other responsibilities. Each year WCU continues to improve and a lot of that is due to Stephanie’s hard work. She is the primary beam coach, and the beam team is having a great year! Stephens has helped the Golden Rams to break or tied individual beam record five times this year and the team record once.   

Records Broken in 2024

UB-Individual UB  Record-9.925

BB-Individual BB Record 9.875 T4x

BB-Individual BB Record-9.9

BB-Team BB Record-49.15

FX-Team FX Record-49.175

FX-Team FX Record-49.275

FX-Individual FX Record-9.925T

Head Coach of the Year

Andy Leis (Yale)

Leading the Bulldogs to a regular season second place conference finish, Yale’s head coach Andy Leis is named the 2024 GEC Head Coach of the Year. Leis’ team earned a school record breaking 194.685 NQS, landing 8 athletes as First or Second All-GEC selections. This year, Leis and his team posted their highest meet score in program history, earning a 195.400 at the 2024 Ivy Classic, placing 2nd behind Penn.

The bulldogs have topped a 195 team score three times this year in the regular season. Aside from all the records Leis and his team broke this year, Leis is described as a wonderful person and coach. He strives to make each gymnast’s experience the best it can possibly be, treating each like family. Andy always knows what to say to motivate the team and brings out the best in his athletes. His goofiness and dedication to the Yale Gymnastics Team draws people in and makes each athlete around to be a Bulldog. He is selfless, patient, and the most devoted coach. The team feels lucky to have him as their leader.

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