By Dagny Greenawalt
Tonight was the action-packed five-team gymnastics meet between no. 29 Maryland, no. 61 West Chester, no. 53 Temple, no. 29 New Hampshire, and no. 63 William & Mary. Though New Hampshire came in as a probable favorite with top beam routines and difficult floor work, they faltered, and Maryland had a great final floor rotation to pull off the win with a 195.800. This score not only gave Maryland its third outright win of the season but should also move them up the overall rankings. The Gymterps are safely securing their spot at Regionals this year.
It was also Senior Night, recognizing the three seniors leading the UMD gymnastics team: Emily Brauckmuller, Leah Slobodin, and Sarah Faller. Each senior received a special introduction and a banner on the wall of the Xfinity Center.
On the vault, Morgan Bixler led the Terps with a beautiful full-twisting Yurchenko vault for a score of 9.8, and three others followed closely behind with scores of 9.775. Every gymnast on this team performs the same vault – a back handspring onto the vault followed by a layout with a full twist off – so it’s a question of who can perform it the most cleanly. With a total rotation score of 48.85 (taken out of 50), every gymnast performed a clean and precise vault.
Alecia Farina and Evelyn Nee were at the top of the bars rotation, both scoring a 9.825. Bars is typically one of the weaker events for the Terps, but tonight they managed to excel. Stuck landings on dismounts helped to make this rotation one of the highest scoring of the entire meet, with a 48.950.
Sarah Faller is typically one of the best beamers, but tonight, an uncharacteristic mistake brought her score down to a 9.65. In the past two meets, Faller has scored a 9.85 and a 9.925, respectively, so the loss of a potentially higher score prevented the team from maximizing their score on the beam. However, with three 9.8’s and a 9.825 from Shynelle Agaran, counting Faller’s 9.65 in the final score didn’t hurt too much. This rotation received a score of 48.875.
Maryland’s floor has become competitive with the best in the nation, with their score of 49.5 two weeks ago outscoring both no. 1 Oklahoma and no. 3 Florida for the week. Tonight’s meet didn’t disappoint. Emily Brauckmuller and Amanda Bertorello both received scores of 9.85 for dynamic, clean routines. Two more 9.825’s weren’t far behind. The total rotation score of 49.125 was not only Maryland’s best rotation score but the best of the entire meet, and still competitive with some of the top teams in the nation. While it might take a little bit of luck, seeing Brauckmuller receive a nationals berth for her floor routine would not be entirely surprising.
Alecia Farina won the all-around competition, and Kristen Peterman took third.
Temple finished third in the meet, just under a point behind New Hampshire. West Chester and William & Mary trailed behind in fourth and fifth, although not without their highlights. West Chester’s Majesta Valentine excelled yet again by coming fourth in the all-around, and William & Mary had a beautiful and exciting floor routine from Aaliyah Kerr that’s worth a watch.
Overall, Maryland managed to prove yet again that they are on an upswing coming into regionals. It would be great to watch them break a score of 196 sometime throughout this season – they just need to put it all together. Although other BIG Ten teams like no. 11 Michigan or no. 13 Nebraska may defeat them on the way to nationals, Maryland is turning itself into a program to watch.
Next up for the Terps is the Big Five meet in Champaign, Illinois on Saturday, March 11 at 3:00 p.m. The match will on BTN.