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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Alissa Bonsall (Higganum, Conn.), Lauren Bridgens (Darnestown, Md.), Kourtney Chinnery (Suffolk, Va.) and Ava Lorein Verdeflor (Allen, Texas) have signed their National Letters of Intent to attend Penn State University and participate in women's gymnastics for the 2018 season, head coach Jeff Thompson announced Wednesday.
"Three years of hard work has finally come to fruition with the signing of these four outstanding young women today," Thompson said. "The level of athletic ability that they each possess will have an immediate impact on our women's gymnastics program. The amount of high level competition experience this group possesses will help us continue to add to our tradition of excellence."
"These young ladies were, first and foremost, recruited to become college students and their commitment to academics has indicated a level of respect and understanding for its importance that will allow them to compete at the highest levels in the classroom," Thompson said. "Finally, the diversity of life experience within this group and their families will help make us a stronger team and a stronger program. We Are...very proud to welcome these new Nittany Lions and we intend to prepare them for a lifetime of impact."
Alissa Bonsall joins the Penn State women's gymnastics team after training at New England Gymnastics Express Too under coaches, Maureen Chagnon and Blane Jefferson. A native of Higganum, Connecticut, Alissa Bonsall is the daughter of David and Stephanie Bonsall.
At Junior Olympic Nationals, Bonsall has placed sixth in the AA (2016), eighth on the uneven bars (2016) and 10th on the vault (2015). At the 2016 regional meet, Bonsall placed second in the AA, which included titles on the vault, bars and floor exercise. At the 2016 Level 10 State meet, she placed third in AA, third on the floor exercise and won titles on the vault and uneven bars.
- 2016 Junior Olympic Nationals: 6th in the AA, 8th on the UB
- 2016 Level 10 Regionals: 2nd in the AA, VT, UB, & Floor champion
- 2016 Level 10 State: 3rd in the AA, 1st on the Vault & UB, 3rd on the Floor
- 2015 Junior Olympic Nationals: 17th in the AA, 10th on the VT
- 2015 Level 10 Regionals: 4th in the AA, 2nd on the VT, 3rd on the UB & Floor
- 2015 Level 10 State VT & Floor Champion
- 2015 Level 10 State AA Silver Medalist
- 2014 Level 10 Regional Qualifier
- 2014 Level 10 State VT Champion
- 2013 Junior Olympic NIT Qualifier
- 2013 Level 10 Regional Vault Silver Medalist
- 2013 Level 10 State AA, VT, UB & BB Silver Medalist
- 2012 Level 9 Eastern Nationals: 9th in the AA, 6th on the VT
- 2012 Level 9 Regionals: 4th in the AA, 1st on the VT, 3rd on the UB
- 2012 Level 9 State AA Champion
- 2011 Level 8 Regional AA Bronze Medalist
- 2011 Level 8 State AA & UB Champion
- 2010 Level 7 State AA, VT, UB, BB & Floor Champion
Alissa on Penn State: "I chose Penn State because I grew up with the phrase "We Are..." throughout my family. Both my mom and dad are graduates of Penn State as well as many other family members. So, I can say that Penn State is in my blood. Throughout the recruiting process, Penn State was the one school that had everything I was looking for. The high standards in both academics and athletics assured me that I will be able to push myself to be successful. To add, the school spirit at Penn State astonishes me and I can't wait to be a part of it every day. I am very thankful for this opportunity and look forward to what my future holds as a Penn State student-athlete."
Coach Thompson on Alissa: "Alissa is going to be a phenomenal collegiate all-around gymnast and we are thrilled she has chosen to follow in her parents' footsteps. I know her coaches are proud of her and her decision to come to Penn State and we look forward to having her join our team."
Lauren Bridgens joins the Nittany Lions after training at Hill's Gymnastics under coach Kelli Hill. A native of Darnestown, Maryland, Lauren Bridgens is the daughter of Dave and Clare-Anne Bridgens.
At the Junior Olympic Nationals meet, Bridgens finished third on the vault (2015), eighth on the uneven bars (2013) and finished ninth in the AA in 2013 and 2014. At the Level 10 Regional meet, she captured the uneven bars title in 2014 and 2015, won the AA title in 2013, placed second in the AA in 2014 and 2015 and placed second on the vault in 2015.
- 2015 Junior Olympic Nationals: 15th in the AA, 3rd on the VT
- 2015 Level 10 Regionals: 2nd in the AA, 1st on the UB, 2nd on the VT, 3rd on the Floor
- 2015 Level 10 States: 2nd in the AA, 1st on the UB, 1st on the FX, 2nd on the VT
- 2014 Junior Olympic Nationals: 9th in the AA, 11th on the VT
- 2014 Level 10 Regionals: 2nd in the AA, Regional UB Champion
- 2014 Level 10 States: AA State Champion, VT & Floor State Champion
- 2013 Junior Olympic Nationals: 9th in the AA, 8th on the UB
- 2013 Level 10 Regionals: AA Regional Champion, 3rd on the BB, 3rd on the Floor
- 2013 Level 10 States: AA State Champion, VT & UB State Champion
- 2012 Level 10 Regional Qualifier (competed bars only)
- 2012 Level 10 States: 3rd UB
Lauren on Penn State: "I chose Penn State because nothing compares to that feeling when you walk on campus. Everyone is so spirited and full of energy, it would be hard not to fall in love with PSU. I also felt like it was a school that would allow me to be successful academically as well as in gymnastics since it is a great school for both. I am so excited to be part of such an amazing team with amazing coaches!"
Coach Thompson on Lauren: "Lauren is one of the nation's top all-around gymnasts and we are thrilled she has chosen Penn State. Her coach, Kelli Hill, has a long history of producing outstanding NCAA gymnasts and we couldn't be more excited to have another one joining us next season."
Kourtney Chinnery joins the Nittany Lions after competing at World Class Gymnastics under Coach Tami Harrison. A native of Suffolk, Virginia, Kourtney Chinnery is the daughter of Lind and Debra Chinnery.
At the Junior Olympic Nationals meet, Chinnery finished second on the floor exercise (2014), fifth in the AA (2014), a pair of ninth-place finishes in the vault (2014 & 2016) and an 11th-place finish in the AA (2016).
Along the 2016 Junior Olympics Nationals meet, Chinnery won the AA, balance beam and floor exercise at the 2016 Level 10 State meet. Also at the state meet, she finished second on the uneven bars and vault. At the 2016 Level 10 Regional meet, Chinnery finished second on the floor exercise and placed sixth in the AA.
- 2016 Junior Olympic Nationals: 11th in the AA, 9th on the VT
- 2016 Level 10 Regionals: 6th in the AA, 2nd on the Floor
- 2016 Level 10 State: 1st in the AA, BB & Floor, 2nd on the VT & UB
- 2015 Junior Olympic NIT Qualifier
- 2015 Level 10 Regionals: 14th in the AA, 7th on the VT
- 2015 Level 10 State: 2nd in the AA, 1st on the VT, 3rd on the BB & Floor
- 2015 Nastia Liukin Supergirl Cup Qualifier
- 2014 Junior Olympic National Team Member
- 2014 Junior Olympic Nationals: 5th in the AA, 2nd on the Floor, 9th on the VT
- 2014 Level 10 Regionals: 6th in the AA, 3rd on the VT, 5th BB
- 2014 Level 10 State: 4th in the AA, 1st on the VT, 2nd on the Floor
- 2013 Junior Olympic NIT VT Champion
- 2013 Level 10 Regionals: 10th in the AA, 5th on the VT
- 2013 Level 10 State AA, VT, BB & Floor Silver Medalist
- 2012 Junior Olympic NIT VT Champion
- 2012 Level 10 Regionals: 6th on the BT, 5th on the Floor
- 2012 Level 10 State: 2nd in the AA, 1st on the VT & BB
- 2011 Level 9 Eastern National VT Champion
- 2011 Level 9 Regionals: 2nd in the AA & on the UB, 1st on the Floor
- 2011 Level 9 State AA, VT, UB, BB & Floor Silver Medalist
Kourtney on Penn State: "I chose Penn State because Penn State actively, adamantly, and passionately chose me. The coaches have supported me since day one and have truly showed great interest in me as not only an athlete, but as a student, and as a person. I am truly blessed to attend Penn State! I plan to represent the Nittany Lions with a spirit of humility and integrity both academically and athletically!"
Coach Thompson on Kourtney: "Kourtney is one of the brightest young women I have recruited in a long, long time. Actually, the first video we ever saw of her was Kourtney teaching calculus as a ninth grader - not competing in gymnastics. She brings a combination of both athletic and academic ability to Penn State and we are excited to see where it leads."
Ava Lorein Verdeflor
Ava Lorein Verdeflor is a Filipino-American gymnast from WOGA Gymnastics in Texas. Verdeflor comes to Penn State with extensive international competition experience. Her international experience includes the 2014 Youth Olympic Games, the 2015 Southeast Asian Games and the 2015 World Gymnastic Championship. A native of Allen, Texas, Ava Lorein Verdeflor is the daughter of Arvin and Lea Verdeflor.
As a member of the Philippines at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China, Verdeflor placed sixth on the uneven bars and 11th in the AA. She also helped Team Philippines get bronze at the 2015 Southeast Asian Games in Singapore and received silver in the uneven bars. She also participated at the 2015 World Gymnastic Championship in Glasgow, Scotland. Along with competing in the international field, Verdeflor had success at the Junior Olympic level. In 2015, she was the Level 10 Uneven Bars Texas State Champion and she placed sixth in the AA at Regionals (Region 3) and qualified to Nationals.
- 2015 World Gymnastics Championships in Glasgow, Scotland
- 2015 Southeast Asian Games in Singapore, Silver Medal - UB
- 2015 Southeast Asian Games in Singapore, Bronze Medal - Team
- 2015 Level 10 Regionals: 6th in the AA and qualified to Nationals
- 2015 Level 10 Texas State Championships: 1st on the UB, 2nd on the BB, 4th on the VT and on the Floor, 2nd in the AA
- 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China 6th on the UB, 11th in the AA
- 2014 Level 10 Texas State Championships: 5th in the AA
- 2013 Level 10 Regional Championships: 1st on the UB, 4th on the BB, and 12th in the AA
- 2013 Level 10 Texas State Championships: 11th in the AA
- 2012 Level 10 Regionals: 5th on the BB, 10th in the AA
- 2012 Level 10 Texas State Championships: 1st on the UB, 8th in the AA
Ava on Penn State: "I am so proud and excited to become a part of the Penn State women's gymnastics team. It has always been my dream to become part of a great NCAA gymnastics program at a top ranking university. Penn State is all that and more."
Coach Thompson on Ava: "It is so exciting and rewarding to finally have Ava sign with us. For the first time in a long time, we welcome a young lady who has a multitude of international experience. We are eager to see how her experience pays off at the NCAA level."