Heather Launse is one of those special college athletes.
Her only goal as a member of the University of Pittsburgh gymnastics team has been for the Panthers to succeed amid an atmosphere of team unity and close friendships.
Launse (Severna Park) has never lost sight of that goal throughout her sometimes trying four years at Pittsburgh, and she is beginning to reap the benefits as her career heads into the final weeks.
Two weeks ago, Launse tied a school record on the vault (9.85) in a narrow loss to Ohio State, 196.050 to 195.225.
She also turned in a 9.80 score on the floor exercise in that meet and was chosen East Atlantic Gymnastics League Specialist of the Week on Feb. 20.
Launse tied for second place on both vault and floor exercises against Ohio State.
The next weekend, she improved her floor exercise to 9.90, tying a season-high Pittsburgh score in that event and placing her third on the school's all-time single floor performance list.
Unfortunately for Launse and the Panthers, Central Michigan and Northern Illinois were 1-2 in that tri-meet
Pittsburgh finished ahead of Wilson College (Pa.) last weekend in a tri-meet, but the Panthers got nipped for first by Bowling Green.
"We're a good team even though our record [4-9] isn't so great," said Launse, whose squad was ranked No. 31 in the nation as late as mid-February. "Our goal now is to finish in the top three in the EAGL Meet [at New Hampshire on March 29] and make it to regionals."
Proof of Launse's steadiness for four years is that she needs only 9.75 points to reach 1,000 in her career.
While the vault and floor exercise are her specialties, Launse does own the school's top score in 2003 on balance beam (9.825).
"I've had more confidence this year than my first three," she said. "I was just getting my feet wet my freshman year. Then the team went through hard times my sophomore year, and last year we were rebuilding."
Rauenzahn in swing
Emory University sophomore first baseman/designated hitter Sherri Rauenzahn (Parkville) is off to a good start for the perennial Division III power in Atlanta.
Rauenzahn has started all four games she has played in, hitting .300 with two RBIs and a double for the Eagles (5-1).
Rauenzahn was used mostly as a pinch hitter last season for Emory, which finished third in the NCAA D-III championships with a 43-10 record. Emory competes in the University Athletic Association.
Junior Kelsen LaBerge (Towson) has enjoyed a strong swimming season for Ohio Northern University, earning All-Ohio Athletic Conference honors in three events at the conference swimming and diving championships.
LaBerge was second in the 200-meter individual medley and third in 200 breaststroke, and swam breaststroke on the third-place 400 medley relay team that established a school-record time of 4 minutes, 17.27 seconds.
She also turned in the top times for Ohio Northern this season in the 50, 100, and 200 breaststroke events, and the school's second-best results this season in the 100 freestyle and 200 individual.
Freshman Rebecca Schumer (Pikesville) is continuing her two-sport career at George Washington this spring, playing outfield for the softball team. Last fall, she played in 10 games for the women's soccer team, which finished 10-9.
St. Joseph's (Pa.) University sophomore right-handed pitcher Brian Anacherico (Calvert Hall) started the season opener against Tulane and allowed three runs in 4 1/3 innings. The Green Wave made those three runs stand up for a 3-2 victory, tagging Anacherico with the loss. Freshman Jason Volker, (Cardinal Gibbons) a third baseman/pitcher for St. Joseph's, went 1-for-6 in his first collegiate at-bats and allowed seven runs in two innings in his lone start on the mound against No. 23 Virginia Commonwealth.
Freshman Cathy Schnell (Broadneck) established a Cornell individual record of 9.9 on the uneven bars Sunday afternoon in the 2003 Ivy Classic.
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