Sophomore gymnast Katie Canning’s accomplishments are starting to pile high, and she’s only getting started.
At the USAG Championships, Canning took first place in the all-around, first place on the vault with a score of 9.825 and tied for second place in the floor exercise with a score of 9.800. In turn, she also gained first-team All-American honors for the weekend. It went down as one of the best performances in the history of Temple women’s gymnastics.
The best part of winning at the USAGs for Canning was that she realized her dream of competing in the NCAA regional.
“It’s an honor. I’m really happy and excited,” Canning said. “My coaches and my captains [seniors Natasha Crawford and Winter Sneed] got me here. The hard part is once you make it here, it’s anybody’s game.”
Canning is the first Owl to qualify for this rigorous tournament since Lexi Zafferes did it in 2005. Granted, Zafferes only qualified for the vault, whereas Canning qualified as an all-around performer and performed in all four events (floor exercise, vault, balance beam and uneven bars).
Canning’s coach, Aaron Murphy, was not at all surprised by her success. Murphy, who is in his third season, had difficulty finding the right words to say when talking about how Canning performed and how proud of her he was.
“It means everything to me as a coach,” he said. “For her to be consistent all year long and finally bring down a title is great. She’s a wonder for women’s gymnastics here at Temple.”
Murphy and Canning already sat down and talked about goals for the future.
The two said they’ve set their sights only on returning to NCAA regionals for Canning’s remaining two years but also have ambitions to obtain an all-around Eastern College Athletic Conference title and break the elusive record for the all-around title score. Canning came close to knocking that accomplishment out this season, as she only missed out by one point.
“[Murphy] has done a lot for me and my teammates,” Canning said. “He’s held us together when I’ve been tired and sore and really got me through the rough times. I love my teammates, and I want them to know that. They really get me through everything.”
That includes battling through injuries, as Canning’s first year was cut short after she injured her leg during the first half of the season. But, with the help of her teammates and Murphy, she recovered.
While Canning gives credit to those who have helped her, Murphy puts all the praise on his star sophomore’s 5-foot-3-inch shoulders.
“She is in a league of her own. I really can’t compare her to anyone else,” Murphy said. “I’m without words about that. For her to go to this level is extremely hard, and anyone has a chance. I need to make sure she is prepared for this. I feel that we can get her to place in the top two in one of the events, which will give her an automatic bid to NCAA Nationals.”
Christian Audesirk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.