Kelsi Eberly, Nikki McGarel and Jordan Naleway each signed a national letter of intent with the Fighting Illini on Wednesday.
Nov. 11, 2010
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - University of Illinois women's gymnastics interim head coach Kim Landrus announced the addition of three gymnasts to the Illini squad for the 2011-12 season. Kelsi Eberly (Landisville, Pa./Hempfield HS), Nikki McGarel (Naperville, Ill./Naperville Central HS) and Jordan Naleway (Vernon Hills, Ill./Vernon Hills HS) each signed a national letter of intent with the Fighting Illini.
Landrus and the rest of the coaching staff are very enthusiastic about the characteristics that this class will bring to the program both in and out of the gym. Each signee excelled throughout high school, qualifying for the USAG Junior Olympic National Championships in multiple years.
"As a coaching staff, we are extremely excited about this signing class," Landrus said. "Each gymnast has different `signature' events; however, Kelsi, Nikki, and Jordan are all very well-rounded athletes who should have an immediate impact on multiple events. From the very beginning of the recruiting process, their enthusiasm for the orange and blue was evident, so I am thrilled that we are officially making them part of our Illini family today."
Profiles on the Newest Illini
Hometown: Landisville, Pa.
High School: Hempfield High School
Club: Prestige Gymnastics
Notes: Two-time JO Level 10 National Qualifier ... Took fourth on vault and seventh in the all-around at the 2009 Region 7 Championships ... Posted top-20 national finishes on vault, beam and in the all-around at the 2008 JO National Championships ... Placed third on vault, fifth on bars, sixth on floor and fifth in the all-around at the 2008 Region 7 Championships ... Won a state title on bars, beam and in the all-around in 2008 ... Was on the superior honor roll her first three years of high school ... Club coaches are Tony and Jen Fatta, Kevin Pope and Colleen Mazreku.
Coach Landrus on Eberly:
"After Kelsi's recruiting trip, she knew this was the place for her. Her talent combined with her desire to be an Illini will yield her nothing but successful results. She is a phenomenal athlete who excels with her level of difficulty on all events. Kelsi has a multitude of skills to choose from on both bars and floor. Her infectious personality will be contagious as she carries such a positive attitude no matter what the situation."
Eberly on becoming an Illini:
"I chose Illinois because the accounting program is one of the best in the nation, and I enjoyed the atmosphere of the gymnastics program including all the gymnasts and coaches. During my recruiting visit, I loved participating in all of the team activities with the girls and the feeling of being on such a close team. I am excited to become an Illini student and athlete."
Hometown: Naperville, Ill.
High School: Naperville Central High School
Club: Phenom Gymnastics
Notes: Four-time JO Level 10 National Qualifier ... Placed first on vault, fourth on bars, second on beam and second in the all-around at the 2010 Region 5 Championships ... Was second on vault and fifth on floor at the 2010 Illinois state championships ... Posted top-20 finishes on vault, bars, floor and in the all-around at the 2009 JO National Championships ... Was a 2009 Region 5 All-Star team member ... Took third on vault, seventh on beam and fourth in the all-around at the 2009 Region 5 Championships ... Club coaches are Marco Bravo, Jessica Holtz, and Sharon Barbato.
Coach Landrus on McGarel:
"Nikki is one of the most caring individuals that I have ever recruited. She always places a high priority of going the extra mile for her teammates and friends. This attitude carries with her in the gym, as she never wants to disappoint and understands her role as a good teammate. She is a dynamic vaulter and an extremely pretty beam worker. Upon her arrival, she will be counted on immediately to fill the voids that will be left from our 2011 graduating class. She is a leader by nature and will have a lot to offer both on and off the competition floor."
McGarel on becoming an Illini:
"I chose Illinois because of the quality of academics and the overall positive environment. Also, the reputation of the gymnastics program is one of the best in the country. I felt it would be a great opportunity to help me achieve my personal goals as a collegiate gymnast. The members of the gymnastics program all have great personalities and when I went on my visits they were very welcoming. I'm looking forward to making a positive impact on the team."
Hometown: Vernon Hills, Ill.
High School: Vernon Hills High School
Club: Aerial Gymnastics
Notes: Three-time JO Level 10 National Qualifier ... Improved in the all-around each of the past three years at the JO National Championships, coming in 37th in 2008, 18th in 2009 and 11th in 2010 ... Finished sixth on bars at the 2010 JO National Championships and eighth in 2009 ... Was the Region 5 floor champion in 2010 and placed in the top six in the all-around at the past three Region 5 Championships ... Was the 2009 Illinois state bar champion ... Followed a runner-up finish in the all-around at the 2008 Illinois state meet with back-to-back third-place finishes in 2009 and 2010 ... Member of the honor roll and completed over 100 hours of community service in high school ... Club coaches are Don and Patrice McPherson and Jeanne Johnson.
Coach Landrus on Naleway:
"Jordan is a very consistent competitor who will step right in and be one of our top bar swingers. Her nice lines and fluid swing will catch the judge's eye every time she competes. She has not yet reached her full potential, so we are excited to see her contributions on the other events as well. Jordan has a very conscientious personality and takes both gymnastics and her academics extremely serious. We know she will continue to develop as a student-athlete here at Illinois and cannot wait for her arrival."
Naleway on becoming an Illini:
"I chose Illinois because it is the perfect balance of an excellent education and an outstanding gymnastics program. The university is highly ranked, and I immediately felt like I was part of the Illini family with such welcoming girls and talented coaches. On my official visit, I really enjoyed the team bonding challenges. We had a video scavenger hunt and a bake-off, which were really entertaining and exciting activities."