USU Gymnastics Signs Two
April 16, 2010
LOGAN, Utah - Utah State gymnastics head coach Jeff Richards announced on Friday that Paige Jones and Rachel Vaske have signed National Letters of Intent to compete for the Aggies in the 2010-11 season.
The addition of these two gymnasts bring USU's 2010 signing class to four, as Jones and Vaske join December signees Samantha Wagner and Julia Wilkins.
"Both of these gymnasts are extremely high-level competitors that we're very excited about joining our program," Richards said about Jones and Vaske. "They are both good students and have very solid academic backgrounds. They have great personalities both in and out of the gym. They're very fun-loving kids and I think they'll bring a really good atmosphere to our team."
USU loses only one senior from this season's roster, and Richards expects the recent signings to bolster the team's success.
"I think they're both hard workers. That's what we really liked when we saw them in competition and saw them work out," Richards said. "The other major quality about both of them that we like is that they're very coachable kids. We've seen them progress throughout the season. That means a lot that they can listen to their coaches and work on what they were told, and keep improving. Those are the types of kids that we look for, ones that are hungry and still want to succeed and get better in college gymnastics."
Jones is a native of Smithville, Mo., where she competes for Edge Gymnastics Club for coaches John Laudie and Laura Habel. She was a two-time Level 10 regional qualifier. She won the vault and was third in the all-around at the 2010 Level 10 Missouri State Championships. Jones also finished fifth-place at the 2007 Level 9 Western Nationals. She earned the Level 10 Hardest Worker Award for Edge Gymnastics.
"Paige has some high difficulty on floor and would have made it to nationals, but had one little slip and missed out, but she is extremely talented. She is definitely good enough to have gone to nationals," Richards said.
At Smithville High School, Jones has a 3.8 GPA and has been on the honor roll all four years. She is youngest of two daughters of Roger and Tonya Jones and plans on majoring on journalism and communication studies at Utah State. Jones chose USU because of the gymnastics program and for the academic opportunities.
Vaske is a Hugo, Minn., native, competing for Midwest Gymnastics Club for coaches Ali Lim and Jess Graba, who is the twin brother of current Utah assistant and former USU assistant Jeff Graba. Vaske was a 2009 Level 10 NIT competitor, as well as the first alternate for nationals. She is a three-time Level 10 regional qualifier. In 2007, she finished third in the all-around at regionals and was a Level 9 Western Nationals qualifier. Vaske helped Midwest Gymnastics Club win the 2010 New York and Rising Stars meets, as well as finishing fourth at the Minnesota State meet, after placing third the year before.
"Rachel was a Junior Olympic qualifier, which is a huge accomplishment to be among the top six in her region among all the gymnasts in Missouri, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota," Richards said. "She has had success and experience in big meets."
Vaske has a 3.4 GPA at Mahtomedi High School. The daughter of Randy and Mary Vaske, she is the youngest of four children. Vaske chose USU because of the campus environment and students, the great education program and the gymnastics team. She plans on majoring in elementary education with aspirations of being a second-grade teacher.
"Both of their vaults really got us interested in them. They both bring a 10.0 vault to the table with a Yurchenko Full, which will up our level of difficulty," Richards said. "As we looked at them more, we saw how they can contribute to our program's success. They're extremely solid three-event competitors and will be contributors in the all-around."
Utah State ended team competition at the Western Athletic Conference Championships at Fullerton, Calif., placing third and matching the Aggies' best WAC finish ever, equalling the third-place finish in 2007. USU was ranked No. 54 in the final regular-season team rankings and only the top 36 teams advanced to the NCAA Regionals. This was the third year in a row and fourth in last five that USU did not qualify for regionals as a team, but the Aggies have sent at least three individuals in each of the last three years.
USU loses only senior Heather Heinrich to graduation, and will return two regional qualifiers in junior all-arounder Lyndsie Boone and junior bars specialist Jackie Dillon, along with sophomore Rebecca Holliday, who earned all-WAC honors on both the beam and bars.
Fans can follow the Aggie gymnastics program at twitter.com/USUGymnastics, and can get score updates. Aggie fans can also follow the Utah State athletic program at twitter.com/USUAthletics.
2010 Utah State Gymnastics Signing Class
NAME HEIGHT EVENT HOMETOWN (HIGH SCHOOL/CLUB) Paige Jones 5-5 AA Smithville, Mo. (Smithville HS/Edge Gymnastics) Rachel Vaske 5-0 AA Hugo, Minn. (Mahtomedi HS/Midwest Gymnastics) Samantha Wagner 5-0 AA Batavia, Ill. (Batavia HS/Phenom Gymnastics) Julia Wilkins 5-1 AA Bexley, Ohio (Bexley HS/Universal Gymnass Inc.)