Register for the Banquet!
The Minnesota Gymnastics Foundation has announced Clay Strother, Jenny Deiley Vargas, Mike Flatten, Mark Curley and Madison Mertz will all be inducted to the Hall of Fame at the 2018 University of Minnesota Gymnastics Hall of Fame Banquet.
The banquet is held annually to honor those who have advanced the sport in Minnesota. Inductees fall within the following categories: U of M alumni athletes, honorary athletes, Lifetime Service Award recipients and Abby Szot Courage Award recipients.
Clay Strother was a four-year letter winner for the Gophers from 1999-2003. In his time on campus, he received 11 All-American accolades and four NCAA Championship titles. His career included back-to-back national titles in floor exercise and pommel horse in 2001 and 2002. Since the completion of his Gopher career, Strother has competed in the 2003 Pan Am Games and the 2006 World Championships as a part of the U.S. Senior National Team. He is now a nationally certified gymnastics judge. He judges all the Gophers' home meets and will also judge the upcoming Big Ten Championships.
"[Strother] has certainly earned the title `Hall of Famer' with his outstanding accomplishments on the competition floor," men's gymnastics head coach Mike Burns said. "His desire to constantly give back to the sport is just another sign of the character he possesses."
Jennifer Deiley Vargas will be inducted as an honorary athlete. Deiley Vargas, a Dayton, Minn. native, was a six time Junior Olympic National Qualifier with Twin City Twisters and claimed the JO National Championship on floor exercise and the all-around in 1999.
Deiley Vargas attended the University of Michigan from 2002-2006 and received 10 All-American accolades as a Wolverine. She earned All-Big Ten honors all four years of her career and was named the 2003 Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Individually, she won the 2003 Big Ten Championship in uneven bars and the 2005 Big Ten Championship on vault.
She currently coaches at Rogers High School in Minnesota while working as a designer/manager at B&B Carpet One, her family-owned retail flooring and countertop store. She and her husband Josh have two kids, Jackson and Jayda, and raise funds and awareness for cystic fibrosis.
Mike Flatten and Mark Curley will together receive the Lifetime Service Award of this year's class. Flatten and Hurley have coached at Roseville Area High School in Minnesota since 1986. In their 30-plus years with the program, they have led 47 gymnasts to All-Conference accolades and have won 15 conference championships as a team. In the Section AA Team meet, Roseville has had nine runners-up and 14 champions under the direction of Flatten and Hurley.
Flatten and Curley have supported 45 gymnasts toward individual state meet appearances with 14 placing in the top-six. In addition, there have been five individual champions in the last seven years under their direction and 96 gymnasts have been named All-Americans by the National High School Gymnastics Coaches Association, including 22 that have achieved Elite Status honors.
Maddison Mertz will receive the Abby Szot Courage Award posthumously. She was a Level 3 gymnast at Classic Gymnastics and loved being in the gym, according to Gopher women's head coach Jenny Hansen.
"She was proud of the new skills she was learning and looked forward to moving up to Level 4," Hansen said.
Maddison was diagnosed with stage four brain cancer in November 2016 at the age of eight and passed away in May 2017.
"Maddison was a strong, talented young lady and did everything with a smile," Hansen added. "She showed true courage and strength throughout her life and inspired many."
The induction ceremony will take place on Friday, Jan. 5 at the Courtyard by Marriott at 1500 Washington Ave. S. in Minneapolis. A social hour at 6 p.m. will precede dinner at 7 p.m. You can register online here.
About the Minnesota Gymnastics Foundation
The University of Minnesota Men's and Women's Gymnastics Hall of Fame is sponsored by the Minnesota Gymnastics Foundation. The Foundation has been in existence for 14 years and is a non-profit organization designed to support the gymnastics community in the state of Minnesota. Local gymnastics enthusiasts established this charitable organization, which intends to provide support to local gymnastics, with an emphasis on healthy competition and academic achievement.
The purpose of the Hall of Fame is to honor individuals and teams who have made outstanding contributions to the University of Minnesota's gymnastics teams and to those who have helped develop and promote the sport of gymnastics in the state of Minnesota.
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