Sacramento State gymnast Kalliah McCartney is sure to stand out in this weekend’s NCAA Women’s Championships in Birmingham, Ala.
The junior is the first Sac State gymnast to reach the NCAA Championships in a sport in which major powers Alabama, Florida, Georgia, UCLA and Utah have combined to win every team title since 1982.
“I’m really excited to represent Sac State and wear the green and gold,” said McCartney, who will compete as an individual in the all-around. “I’m sure I’ll be noticed a little in competition among all those wearing blue or red.”
McCartney’s aggregate score of 39.275 in the vault, beam, bars and floor exercise at the Seattle Regional on April 5 was enough to secure one of the 12 all-around individual spots at the national championships.
“When I learned I was going, I was speechless,” McCartney said. “The moment was surreal.”
The national championships, which will be held in the 19,000-seat Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex, is a lot more expansive than the cozy confines of The Nest, the Hornets’ 1,000-seat gym.
“I’m definitely excited,” she said. “I know the stands are going to be full because schools down there draw big crowds.”
The 5-foot-7 McCartney, a native of Vancouver, Wash., was the Western Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year in 2012 when she set the Sac State all-around record of 39.375.
She’s been trying to surpass that mark ever since – she battled back and shoulder issues this season that prevented her from doing the all-around at several meets – but expects the high-level competition to bring out her best.
McCartney also is a standout in the classroom. She is majoring in international business and accounting and earned an associate of arts degree from Clark College, a community college in Vancouver, while still in high school.
She had a chance to compete for Cornell of the Ivy League but chose Sac State because it offered a scholarship – Cornell does not – and it was closer to home.
“I’m the oldest of five siblings so I didn’t want my father to have to spend a lot of money,” McCartney said. “Sac State has been great. It’s not too big or too small, and I love the sun.”
It helps that two of her teammates, Dallas Smith and Kayla Wonderly, also are from Washington and the three attended the same high school. They competed with McCartney at the regional finals but won’t make the trip to Alabama.
Coach Kim Hughes, however, will be in Alabama with his standout gymnast.
“After the meet, he gave me a hug and told me he had been waiting a long time for this,” McCartney said.
Freshman quarterback impresses – Freshman walk-on quarterback Daniel Kniffin from Rocklin High School capped a strong spring by throwing back-to-back 70-yard touchdown passes to Shane Harrison and Justin Cox in Sac State’s annual spring football game Saturday.
The 6-2 Kniffin completed all four of his passes for 149 yards and threw for a third touchdown on a 2-yarder to freshman Stone Sander.
Starting quarterback Garrett Safron was 11 for 16 for 139 yards and a touchdown. He had a pass intercepted by linebacker Darnell Sankey.
The offense scored five touchdowns and special teams kicked a field goal in nine drives, while the defense limited the offense to 20 rushing yards on 16 attempts. It also had a fourth-down stop in addition to Sankey’s interception.
Aggies complete drive for five – Former Granite Bay standout Paige Lee helped the UC Davis women’s golf team win its fifth consecutive Big West Conference title Tuesday at San Luis Obispo Country Club.
The freshman tied for seventh with a three-round total of 6-over-par 225, helping the Aggies finish 16 strokes better than second-place Cal State Northridge.
The Aggies will learn April 28which of three NCAA Championship regional sites they’ll advance to on May 8-10. .
Hornets basketball – Six-10 forward Mason Stuteville (Casa Roble), 5-10 guard Jiday Ugbaja (Riordan-San Francisco), 6-foot guard Marcus Graves (Westview-San Diego) and 6-10 center James Herrick (Douglas-Minden, Nev.) have signed letters of intent to play basketball at Sac State.
Stuteville is the brother of Sac State 6-11 freshman center Eric Stuteville.
The four will join forward Justin Strings, an early signee from Mira Costa-Manhattan Beach, for the 2014-15 season.
Call The Bee’s Bill Paterson, (916) 326-5506.