LOGAN, Utah -
Utah State head gymnastics coach Amy Smith announced the signing of a pair of Canadian gymnasts to National Letters of Intent on Thursday. Both are from Toronto, Ontario.
Grace Rojas is a level-10 gymnast and Maddie Straker is an elite gymnast from Manjaks Gymnastics in Mississauga, Ontario, who have trained under coaches Kelly Manjak and Kelsey Arnold.
During the 2018 Provincials and 2018 Canadian Championships, Rojas placed third and sixth in the all-around, respectively. She was the all-around provincial champion in 2017 and captured fifth place in the all-around at the 2017 Canadian Championships.
“We are so thrilled that Grace has decided to become an Aggie,” Smith said. “Her impressive gymnastics is why we brought her onto campus, but upon her arrival and getting to know her better, not only will she be impactful as a gymnast, but her drive, determination and focus to not be swayed away from her goals was beyond impressive. Grace is a great combination of finesse and power, and she will immediately make her presence known on bars, vault and beam.”
Rojas, who helped Team Ontario capture two all-around titles at the 2017 and 2018 Canadian Championships, is looking forward to continuing her career at Utah State.
“There were so many things that I loved about Utah State,” Rojas said. “Everybody I met on my official visit was welcoming, helpful and honest. There is a goal to be reached here at Utah State and I really want to contribute everything I can to the team and be a part of reaching and achieving that goal.”
The daughter of Antonio and Shelley Rojas graduated with honors and a four-year bilingual studies certificate from Toronto’s Silverthorn Collegiate Institute in 2017. She plans on majoring in business at Utah State.
“I am super excited to keep my career going at the college level,” said Rojas, who enjoys working with, teaching and being around young children. “I can’t wait to be a part of the college gymnastics atmosphere and compete for Utah State.”
Straker placed 12th in the all-around and sixth on bars at the 2018 Canadian Championships, which were held May 22-27, in Waterloo, Ontario. She also finished third in the all-around at the Canadian Championships in 2016. At Elite Canada 2017, the daughter of Stephen and Jennifer Straker placed sixth on floor.
“I wanted to become an Aggie because I loved the atmosphere and how welcoming the campus feels, as well as the coaching staff and support system it provides,” Straker said. “I am very excited to continue my career at the college level because I will be able to pursue my passion for gymnastics, as well as my studies.”
Straker, whose hobbies include drawing and baking, was a 2018 graduate of Silverthorn Collegiate Institute. She plans on majoring in visual art at Utah State.
“We are so excited to add Maddie to our Aggie family,” Smith said. “We really feel like Maddie will contribute on all four events, making her presence known in the all-around in the Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference immediately. She is beyond powerful and can literally do every skill in the book.
“One of the fun parts with her is going to be figuring out which combo of skills are we going to do? She will be a standout immediately on floor, where she has incredibly difficult and powerful tumbling. Maddie is also a very talented artist and is looking to go into art therapy, so I am thrilled that we had a major that supports her career path.”
Rojas and Straker are the third and fourth gymnasts of Smith’s 2018-19 incoming class, joining Glory Yoakum (Manvel, Texas) and Caitlin Gray (Newington, Conn.).
Fans can follow the Aggie gymnastics program at twitter.com/USUGymnastics, on Facebook at Utah State Gymnastics, and on Instagram at USUGymnastics. Fans can also follow the USU athletic program at twitter.com/USUAthletics or on Facebook at UtahStateAthletics.
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