Young gymnastics fans flocked around a small table in the middle of the Towson Center after yesterday's 12th annual TSU Invitational. Resting on her knees in the middle of the group was Towson State senior Erin Shanley, signing autographs and exchanging pleasantries with her admirers.
Shanley had just led the Tigers to their 12th straight TSU Invitational championship with a record-setting performance, and her signature was in demand.
"Look at that," said one observer, watching as Shanley disappeared among the autograph-seekers. "She looks like Cal Ripken."
Shanley, a senior co-captain from Virginia Beach, Va., set a meet record and tied the school record in the all-around with a score of 39.20.
Her performance, which included first-place finishes in the floor exercise (9.825), uneven bars (9.850) and vault (9.850), helped the Tigers improve their record to 14-2 and gave Shanley her fifth all-around title of the season.
"Erin is great. She's awesome to watch," said George Washington coach Margie Foster-Cunningham, whose team finished second with 190.825 to Towson's 193.950. "I love to see seniors who are ending on their best year."
Shanley, who won the TSU Invitational all-around title two years ago but couldn't defend it last season after injuring herself in the pre-meet warm-up, started yesterday by sticking a hand-spring front half, and she never looked back.
"I had some little mistakes here and there that I wanted to clean up from the last meet and I was basically concentrating on that," Shanley said, excusing herself briefly to pose for a photograph with a fan. "One of my main concerns was the vault, and I think that started the day off right."
Sophomore Kelli Newcomb, who suffered a serious knee injury last year, showed she is recovering nicely as she set a personal record on bars (9.475).
Towson State's Kathy Fitzpatrick tied GW's Alexis Hrynko for first place on the balance beam and tied a personal record of 9.750. Hrynko made a run at Shanley for the all-around title and finished second with 38.675.
Liane Williams, a sophomore from Virginia Beach, sat out of the all-around competition because of a sore ankle, but she did participate on bars and helped the Tigers by scoring a 9.725.
Cindy Parker, a freshman from Thomas Stone, competed in Williams' place in the vault and set a personal record of 9.525.
Shawna Thompson tied teammate Katherine Creswell for second the uneven bars, finished sixth on the beam and set a personal record in the floor exercise, an event she rarely competes in.
"We had a couple substitutes today, and we tested some new people out and they did real well," Towson State coach Dick Filbert said. "You have to plug all the pieces together on the right day, and we did."
1. Towson State, 193.95; 2. George Washington, 190.825; 3. Maryland, 189.45; 4. Pennsylvania, 185.9; 5. William and Mary, 184.875; 6. Temple, 184.625.
All-around: 1. Shanley (TS), 39.2; 2. Hrynko (GW), 38.675; 3. Breidenbach (UM), 38.45; 4. Ackerman (GW), 38.35; 5. Gruber (GW), 38.3.
Balance beam: 1. Fitzpatrick (TS), 9.75; 2. Hrynko (GW), 9.75; 3. Shanley (TS), 9.675; 3. Ackerman (GW), 9.675; 3. Breidenbach (UM), 9.675.
Floor exercise: 1. Shanley (TS), 9.825; 1. Hanson (TS), 9.825; 3. Yenco (TS), 9.775; 4. Fitzpatrick (TS), 9.75; 5. Byrnes (UM), 9.65.
Vault: 1. Shanley (TS), 9.85; 1. Hrynko (GW), 9.85; 3. Creswell (TS), 9.725; 3. Hanson (TS), 9.725; 5. Fitzpatrick (TS), 9.70; 5. Conger (UM), 9.70.
Uneven bars: 1. Shanley (TS), 9.85; 2. Thompson (TS), 9.75; 2. Creswell (TS), 9.75; 4. Williams (TS), 9.725; 4. Byrnes (UM), 9.725.
Pub Date: 2/24/97