For any team, senior night is always filled with emotions as the seniors compete in front of their home crowd for the final time. This weekend, Pitt honored its four seniors, who have dedicated their time and talents to make the program into what it is today.
“Each of them haven’t had an easy road,” head coach Samantha Snider said. “For me as their coach, just seeing their perseverance and their determination to overcome adversities is really so inspirational.”
All four seniors contributed counting scores on Friday and have been an integral part to the team all season.
Deven Herbine has been a staple in the vault, beam and floor lineups this year, setting new career highs on vault and floor.
“Deven has been a major contributor for us this year,” Snider said. “I don’t think she really ever realized how talented she was. She is a fierce competitor, and she brings that edge to our team.”
Rachel Dugan has been a reliable leadoff on bars this year and has come into her own on the event over the last two seasons after being in and out of the lineup during her first two years.
“[Rachel] has come so far and works so hard,” Snider said. “I’m very proud to see her really come into her own this last year.”
Alecia Petrikis has been a standout ever since she arrived at Pitt her freshman year. She equaled or set a new career high on her two events, vault and floor, in 2020. She was also named EAGL Specialist of the Week for the first time last week.
“There is no bigger lover of Pitt,” Snider said about Petrikis. “She exudes joy and love, and she has the biggest heart. How she is when she competes is how she is every day at practice. She brings that same genuine energy and positivity and love every day.”
Michaela Burton transferred from Arkansas for her senior year and has been an immediate standout on bars, beam and floor. She broke the 9.900 mark on bars and beam this year and was named EAGL Gymnast of the Week twice. Most recently, she was one of 33 nominees for the prestigious AAI award given to the most outstanding senior gymnast.
“Obviously [Michaela is] a standout, just amazing,” Snider said. “For me, what makes it such a special story is for her to get the love from her teammates and the family atmosphere for her to finish out her career, feeling appreciated, feeling loved and just having fun.”
Regarding closing out her career at Pitt, Burton said the experience has been amazing.
“It’s meant everything for me,” Burton said. “Every single day I come into the gym with these girls. They make me smile, they make me laugh, they make me remember why I love this sport. And to end with these girls by my side and to have a new set of lifelong best friends has been amazing.”
This senior class has left an impression on Pitt gymnastics that will be remembered for years to come.
“They wanted to leave a strong legacy of leadership, and they’ve really done a great job of that this year, each in their own individual individual ways,” Snider said. “Some of them lead by example, others are more vocal leaders, but they all bring something to the table. I’m going to miss them all tremendously because they really have helped turn a corner in Pitt gymnastics for the future.”
Article by Mary Emma Burton
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