Jen Llewellyn (formerly Jen Kesler) is in her fifth season as head coach of the Lindenwood women’s gymnastics program in 2018, and her sixth year as a member of the Lindenwood coaching staff.
Llewellyn has played the biggest role in the development of the Lindenwood gymnastics program that had its inaugural season in 2013. In just five seasons, the program has advanced to four USA Gymnastics Women’s Collegiate National Championships, won the 2015 and 2016 USA Gymnastics Women’s Collegiate national titles, won the 2015, 2016, and 2017 MIC Championships, and advanced three gymnasts to the NCAA Regional Championships, including one gymnast to multiple regionals.
In 2017, Llewellyn led a Lindenwood team that for the first time that did not have members from its inaugural class. The program continued its success though, winning its third straight MIC Championship and advancing to the USA Gymnastics Women’s Collegiate Team Finals. Lindenwood’s regular season regional qualifying score of 194.440 was a new team record, and the Lady Lions scored over 195 four times during the season, which was also a new program standard.
At the national championship event, Lindenwood scored a season-high 195.375 in the team finals, and it placed third in the team standings. Eight gymnasts earned All-American honors in 14 events, and Kierstin Sokolowski won the individual national championship in the vault. The Lady Lions won the MIC Championship with a score of 194.675. Five gymnasts were all-conference at the event, and Sokolowski won the beam championship. Sokolowski also earned a spot in the NCAA Regional Championships, finishing 21st on the vault and 16th on the beam.
Lindenwood had another strong showing in the classroom, including two gymnasts, Hannah Rector and Aubree Horn, becoming the first Academic All-Americans in program history. Both student-athletes were on the second-team Academic All-American list. Eighteen gymnasts were MIC Scholar-Athletes and ten were USA Gymnastics Scholar-Athletes.
In 2016, Llewellyn led Lindenwood to its second straight USA Gymnastics Women’s Collegiate National Championship and MIC Championship. She played a key role in Lindenwood being the host school for the USA Gymnastics national event, and was named the MIC and USA Gymnastics Head Coach of the Year.
Lindenwood set a new school record in the team finals of the USA Gymnastics Women’s Collegiate National Championships with a mark of 195.875, and won the event by less than a tenth of a point. Ten gymnasts earned 14 All-American awards at the event, including 10 first-team honors. At the MIC Championships, the Lady Lions became the first repeat champion since 2008 as it won by over half a point. A school-record nine Lindenwood gymnasts earned all-conference honors.
In the classroom, a total of 17 gymnasts earned the conference academic award. The 2016 year also marked the first senior class to go through the program, and eight players from the inaugural team graduated.
2015 was a year of firsts for the young program, including winning the USA Gymnastics Women’s Collegiate National Championship. The Lady Lions recorded a score of 195.550 in the finals, winning the event by 0.875 over Bridgeport. Also at the USA Gymnastics event, seven Lindenwood athletes won 11 All-American honors, and Sokolowski won individual national titles in the all-around and vault events.
Lindenwood also captured its first MIC Championship in 2015 after recording a program-best score of 195.800. The Lady Lions won 15 all-conference honors at that event, including individual conference titles by Valeri Ingui (all-around) and Courtney Heise (vault and bars). That performance helped three Lady Lions earn individual spots in the NCAA Regional Championships, another first for the program. Ingui and Sokolowski were all-around competitors, and Heise competed on the bars.
Llewellyn helped Lindenwood sweep the MIC end of the season awards, including Ingui being the conference MVP and Sokolowski being the co-Newcomer of the Year. Thirteen gymnasts earned the MIC academic award and the USA Gymnastics Scholar-Athlete award, and Ingui was a CoSIDA Academic All-District selection.
Llewellyn was named both the MIC and the USA Gymnastics Women’s Collegiate Head Coach of the Year after the team’s successful 2015 season.
In just its second year as a program, Llewellyn led the team to a berth in the 2014 USA Gymnastics Women’s Collegiate National Championships. Lindenwood finished third in its semifinals session and just missed advancing to the team finals.
Lindenwood won six All-American awards at the USA Gymnastics Women’s Collegiate National Championships in 2014, led by two first-team honors by Rachel Zabawa in the vault and floor. Ajiea Hargave was a first-team All-American on the floor, Courtney Heise was first-team on the bars, Emily Turik earned first-team on the bars, Valeri Ingui was first-team on the beam, and Alicia Floyd was a second-team honoree on the beam.
The Lady Lions showed huge improvement throughout its second season of competition. Lindenwood finished third at the MIC Championships and recorded a school-record mark of 194.450 in a dual meet at Illinois. Lindenwood won the first three dual meets in program history and also took first place at the Lindenwood Quad Meet. The Lady Lions broke every individual and team school record except for one during the season, including having six of the best seven team scores in program history.
In her first year at Lindenwood, Llewellyn helped the Lady Lions qualify six gymnasts for the 2013 USA Gymnastics Women’s Collegiate National Championships. Two of them reached the individual finals, and Rachel Zabawa won a national championship on the beam. Lindenwood finished fifth at the MIC Championships after setting a then program record of 193.050. Three members of the squad earned all-conference honors at the MIC Championships.
Llewellyn spent her first season after graduation as a student assistant at Oregon State and assisted the team on the uneven bars. She helped Olivia Vivian earn first-team all-PAC-12 honors on the bars and the Beavers’ lineup finished seventh in the nation in that event. In the final national rankings, three Oregon State gymnastics placed in the top-20 on the uneven bars, including Vivian who tied for ninth. The Beavers finished third at the Pac-12 Championships, second at their NCAA Regional Championships, and 12th at the NCAA Championships.
Llewellyn was a four-year member of the Oregon State gymnastics team, specializing on the uneven bars and balanced beam. As a senior, she advanced to the finals at the NCAA Championships in the bars. She scored a 9.8750 in the finals, which placed her second in the nation and earned her first-team All-American honors. Llewellyn also earned second-team all-conference honors in the uneven bars and balance beam.
Llewellyn earned second-team All-American honors in the uneven bars during her freshman and sophomore seasons. In 2009, she was the Pac-10 co-champion in the event and a first-team all- conference honoree. In 2008, she won the NCAA West Regional uneven bars championships after scoring a career-high 9.95. That year, Llewellyn was named the Female Newcomer of the Year at Oregon State.
Llewellyn is originally from Kenmore, Wash. She attended Inglemoor High School and competed for the Gymnastics East club. She is a five-time Level 10 national champion as she earned the all-around titles and vault titles in 2006 and 2007, and won the uneven bars in 2007.
Llewellyn graduated in 2012 from Oregon State with a degree in merchandising management, and earned her master's degree in communications with an emphasis in promotions at Lindenwood.
Jen was married to Cody Llewellyn, a member of the Lindenwood women’s basketball coaching staff, in the summer of 2017.