Georgia head gymnastics coach Danna Durante announced on Wednesday the signing of two prospects to national letters of intent to attend UGA and compete for the Gym Dawgs.
Gigi Marino of Scottsdale, Ariz., and Hayley Sanders of McKinney, Texas will begin competing for Georgia in 2015.
“This class is a good mix of power, grace and beauty,” said UGA head coach Danna Durante. ”As the level of gymnastics continues to rise for both elites and Junior Olympic gymnasts we want our level to continue to rise. Both Gigi and Hayley will strengthen this team, as they come with a passion for the sport of gymnastics and for the University of Georgia.”
Marino is a Level 10 gymnast from Desert Devils Gymnastics. She qualified for the 2013 JO Nationals and placed second on vault and sixth in the all-around. At the Arizona State Championships, she came in first on vault and floor and sixth in the all-around.
Marino placed first on vault and floor and third in the all-around in the 2011 Region 1 Championships to qualify for JO Nationals for the second consecutive year. She finished first on vault and floor an sixth in the all-around at the 2013 Region 1 Championships.
Said Durante, “Gigi has explosive power, competing very comfortably for several years a Yurchenko 1 ½ on vault. On floor she has competed both a double layout and a pike full-in. She performs some very big skills and does so with ease. We are excited about Gigi’s powerful gymnastics and how it will help us to continue to improve on both vault and floor. She is also very strong on beam, finishing her routine with a standing back handspring double tuck dismount, again performed with such ease.
“Gigi is somewhat quiet but has a very fiery spirit,” Durante added. “She has a lot of personality when you get to know her. She is to the point and direct and also an incredible student. Gigi is well-rounded, and she’ll bring fire, spirit and drive both in the classroom and in the gym. With her dry sense of humor she will fit right in with this group. She is full of power and has dynamic skills that will make it fun to watch her compete.”
Sanders is a Level 10 gymnast from WOGA in Plano, Texas. A two-time qualifier for JO Nationals, Sanders placed first on bars and vault at the 2013 Region 3 Championships. She captured the gold medal on bars and repeated as the all-around champion at the 2011 WOGA Classic.
Sanders had the top all-around score among all Level 10 gymnasts at the 2010 WOGA Classic, and she qualified for the first Nastia Liukin Cup. She recently finished first in the all-around and on bars, second on beam and third on vault in the 2013 Houston National Invitational.
“Haley is an incredible bars swinger,” Durante said. “She is strong on every event, but she is in a league of her own on bars with her beautiful lines and the way that she performs. We are looking forward to her strengthening our bars lineup, and she’ll also provide valuable depth for us on vault, beam and floor.
“She is an incredibly bright student,” Durante said. “She is quiet in nature, but extremely focused and driven both athletically and academically. All of those qualities are going to continue to make this team stronger in every aspect. Our fans are going to love watching Hayley compete for four years. She is passionate about Georgia and really excited to be a part of this program.”
Marino and Sanders are expected to enroll as Gym Dawgs prior to the 2014 fall semester.