It didn’t take long for Helena Diodati to make an impression. The University of New Hampshire freshman gymnast won the uneven bars competition in the Wildcats’ first meet of the season and the Scarborough High graduate has been a steady contributor for the Wildcats ever since. Her score of 9.8 in that season-opener against Rutgers helped UNH to a slim victory over EAGL Conference rival Rutgers in early January.

One week later Diodati won another uneven bars competition in a quad meet in Rhode Island where the Wildcats finished second. UNH soon faced a very good University of Denver team in Colorado and Diodati continued to fare well against some of the top competition the league had to offer. She had the Wildcats’ best scores on the uneven bars (9.775) and the vault (9.8) and she’s maintained that high level of performance throughout the season.

“Helena has been the top UNH performer on bars in 9 of 10 performances and became one of the team’s top vaulters when she upgraded her vault to a 10.0 start,” said UNH women’s gymnastics coach Gail Goodspeed. “She combines impeccable form and technique with explosive power on vault and bars.”

“I’ve had a really good year and it’s been a lot of fun,” said Diodati. “I really like it here and I’ll definitely be on the team until I’m a senior.”

Diodati is one of six freshmen who have helped the Wildcats this year. New Hampshire’s most recent competition was a quad meet at Penn State last weekend where they took third behind the host Nittany Lions and second-place Rutgers. Diodati led UNH with a second-place effort on the uneven bars (9.825).

“Her performances have helped UNH defeat top teams such as the University of Maryland, the University of North Carolina, and West Virginia this season,” said Coach Goodspeed. “Along with five other rookies, she has helped the team once again look fairly secure for a spot in the first round of the NCAA’s.”

Diodati was forced to take a break from gymnastics during her sophomore year of high school. She had stress fractures in her back that needed to heal and the only way to accomplish that was to rest. She later returned to the Maine Academy of Gymnastics – where she’d been working out since 1996 – with a healthy back and an even healthier attitude about competing again.

“I was doing it for fun with not as much pressure,” said Diodati. “I went to nationals last year and had a few scholarship offers after that.”

Last April, she found herself at the USA Gymnastics Level 10 Junior Olympic national competition in Oklahoma City, Okla. Diodati finished 22nd in the all-around competition and she shined in her two strongest events placing sixth on the uneven bars and 10th in vault.

One of those scholarship offers cam from UNH and Helena soon decided that the Durham, N.H. school was where she wanted to continue her schooling and her gymnastics career.

“Helena Diodati is one of the hardest workers and most talented

student-athletes to compete for the University of New Hampshire women’s gymnastics team,” said UNH gymnastics coach Gail Goodspeed.

“Beyond her competitive accomplishments, Helena has been a pleasure to work with this year. She comes into the gym everyday ready to work hard, and she is often the last gymnast to leave practice,” noted Goodspeed. “We are also very proud of her scholastic accomplishments; she earned a 3.58 GPA in her first semester and was named to the EAGL All-Academic team. We are just thrilled to have Helena as part of our team and are eager to see what the rest of her collegiate career will hold.”

On Friday, the UNH gymnasts will compete in the EAGL Conference championships in College Park, Maryland.

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