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Hannah Willmarth thriving after transfer

Willmarth has competed five times this season for the Gophers after zero appearances as a freshman at Washington.
Sophomore Hannah Willmarth jumps during her bar routine at Maturi Pavillon on Friday, Feb 15.
Image by Tony Saunders
Sophomore Hannah Willmarth jumps during her bar routine at Maturi Pavillon on Friday, Feb 15.

Transferring from school to school has become a common trend throughout college sports nationwide. 

However, some programs haven’t emphasized it during recruiting, including the Gophers women’s gymnastics team.

“We are not actively looking for transfers, we actually don’t,” said head coach Jenny Hansen. “Unless we hear someone else come to us and say, ‘Hey what about this athlete? I hear she’s looking for a new home.’” 

Last summer, an alumni approached the team about a freshman gymnast from Washington named Hannah Willmarth, who was ready for a change. Willmarth visited the team and instantly felt at home transferring to Minnesota later that summer.

Willmarth joins teammate Mary Korlin-Downs as the only transfers on the roster this season.

“We had heard about Hannah through a couple different alumni and alumni parents and we heard really good things,” Hansen said. “Her personality seemed to fit really well with the rest of our team. Her desires and goals seemed like a really good fit and all the girls said, ‘We love her, she would be fantastic.'”

Willmarth remembered emailing the team during her initial recruiting in high school, but Minnesota had already filled all the spots on the roster. The journey came full circle when she arrived late to the team in August, tasked with learning her second set of teammates, coaches and culture in as many years.

“I don’t think the gymnastics part was too big of transition for her, but she had to get to know new coaches, a new environment, a new team, and she kind of just jumped right in and I think the girls just embraced her,” Hansen said. “I think they did what they could to make her transition as smooth as possible.”

Willmarth struggled to find a role during her season at Washington. She never found a spot in the lineup during a competitive meet. 

Since arriving at Minnesota, Willmarth has competed in five meets on the the uneven parallel bars. The sophomore has improved her score every meet, from a 9.775 in her first meet on Jan. 4 to a 9.875 in the team’s last meet on Feb. 23. Her improvement has helped the team rise through the national rankings, as the Gophers are currently ranked No. 9 in the nation and second in the Big Ten on the uneven parallel bars.

“It’s been really exciting because I didn’t really compete much last year,” Willmarth said. “To like, get more experience and compete with this awesome team and to keep getting better, because it is still fairly new to me, has been great.”

Willmarth and Hansen attribute her steady improvement to her growing confidence, something she lacked during her freshman season. 

“I came here and was very unsure of myself,” Willmarth said. “I had some new skills in my routines, and they’ve been so supportive and instilled confidence in me. My competing routines have gotten better because of that.”

Willmarth and the Gophers will return to the mats and compete at Maturi Pavillion for the last time this season for senior night against Pittsburgh on March 2 at 4 p.m. The team will honor seniors Rachel Cutler and Selena Ung. 

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