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The University of Minnesota women’s gymnastics program has promoted Rich Stenger to associate head coach, brought on MaryAnne Kelley Elzen as a volunteer assistant and added Bailey Abernathy as a volunteer director of operations, head coach Jenny Hansen announced Wednesday.
Stenger is in his fourth season with the University of Minnesota gymnastics staff. He oversees the bars team, is the main spotter, coordinates club outreach, organizes strength & conditioning for the team and works on recruiting efforts with assistant coach Geralen Stack-Eaton. Prior to joining the Gophers, Stenger led a seasoned coaching career in the Twin Cities area. Stenger worked with the Twin City Twisters as an optional and elite coach since 2007.
“Rich is one of the top coaches in the country and has been instrumental in our team's success over the past few years,” Hansen said. “He has brought a high level of knowledge and enthusiasm for the success of our athletes. He continues to elevate the expectations of our program and we are excited to promote him to associate head coach.”
Elzen is a Gopher great and is a member of “M" Club Hall of Fame. She was the Big Ten Gymnast of the Year in 2002. That season she won the NCAA Regional title on floor exercise and took fourth in the nation, while also placing fifth in the all-around at the national meet. Her contributions helped the Gophers to the program's best-ever finish at NCAAs that spring. Elzen was a three-time First Team All-Big Ten performer, as well as a three-time All-American, during her Gopher career. She is also a member of the Illinois High School Girls Gymnastics Coaches' Hall of Fame.
“We are thrilled to welcome MaryAnne back to the Gopher family,” Hansen said. “She is one of the all-time greats and is excited to share her passion and experience with the new generation of Gopher gymnasts. MaryAnne will primarily work with the team on both balance beam and floor exercise this season.”
Abernathy just finished her eligibility as a Gopher gymnast last season after a successful career. She placed fifth on floor with a 9.900 at B1G Championships this past season, was named the Most Valuable Teammate and received the Mariam Award. She earned NACGC/W Scholastic All-American and Academic All-Big Ten honors in her career. Abernathy was also selected for the Big Ten post-graduate scholarship.
“We are excited to have Bailey help behind the scenes as she transitions from her role as tremendous student athlete,” Hansen said. “Bailey has great pride in this program and has already proven to be a valuable asset with some of the new initiatives we are implementing this season.”