Lindenwood Gymnastics Seizes Final Victory in Farewell Season

Over the past decade, Lindenwood Gymnastics has quickly become a powerhouse program in the NCAA. With seven MIC championship titles over the past 12 seasons, five USAG national titles, a regionals team appearance, and an individual nationals qualifier, the athletes who have gone through this program have put Lindenwood on the map. However, in December, the team received the devastating news that the 2024 season would be its last.

Gymnastics, along with 10 other athletic programs at the university would be cut, with no amount of money raised able to reinstate. Despite the heartbreak, the gymnasts and staff took the decision as an opportunity to leave their legacy.

“This program is so much more than gymnastics,” head coach Catelyn Branson said. “[Through everything we have been through], we have continued to be Lindenwood gymnastics. [We hope this season] has shown young girls no matter what life throws at you, you can really do anything you put your mind to. Especially when you are doing it with other people around you and you are supporting one another, it goes so much further.” 

Family has been at the center for Lindenwood this entire season; not just the family the athletes have made within the team but the entire Lindenwood program as a whole, honoring the gymnasts that came before them. “Every week we dedicated a meet to each one of the 12 teams, and this was our 12th meet, so this one we dedicated to us,” Branson said of the national championships. “Our mentality this year has been to do it for the person next to you and all the way around the circle; that’s how we will be successful.”

Going into the competition, the stakes were already high with it being a championship meet, but they were even higher with the knowledge that it would be the last time the Lions would ever perform together. “We just entered this weekend knowing we wanted it to be for us, for our legacy, and to just try and go out with a bang wanting to do everything for this family we have created,” senior Sydney Lopez said.

And in a fitting ending, Lindenwood claimed its final national title, putting up a score of 195.700 to finish ahead of Texas Woman’s, Air Force, and West Chester in the team final. But the outcome was never the ultimate goal for Lindenwood. “Whether we got first or last, we didn’t really care. We wanted to show the world who Lindenwood wymnastics is,” Lopez said. “This year I think we showed everyone how resilient we are and how much grit we have. Making the goals for what we wanted to accomplish and actually doing it is so special.”

Fellow senior Reagan Jones shared this same sentiment about what this year meant to the team and what she will hold onto for years to come. “My favorite part about being a part of Team 12 is just the heart that we have. We all believed in one another, and even though we found out before the season that our program would be cut, that didn’t stop any of us from doing what we set out to do.”

And most importantly, the team will hold onto the feeling of going out one last time together forever, no matter where each of them end up next. “We have a word of the week each week, and this week it was ‘cherish.’ Coming in, it was to cherish every moment, every routine, and just be there for each other and enjoy competing,” senior Hannah Moon said.

Lindenwood has now won five USAG national championships in its short 12-year history, a history of dominance that will not soon be forgotten despite the program not continuing. “It’s their strength that got them here,” Branson said. “They really had the weight of the world on their shoulders, but because they did it for one another tonight, it was so special. None of them would have been able to do this if they didn’t have one another. This is support, this is our sisterhood, and it is the most incredible thing to be a part of.” 

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Article by Julianna Roland


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