UNC gymnasts chase the title at home

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Elizabeth Durkac, pictured here on the uneven parallel bars, has been UNC’s most consistent performer in all-around competition.

The North Carolina gymnastics team has come a long way since the beginning of the season.

But they won’t have to travel much farther to compete in Saturday’s East Atlantic Gymnastics League championship, which will be held in Chapel Hill for the first time since 2001.

The Tar Heels are in good position heading into the postseason, coach Derek Galvin said.

The Tar Heels, who are in third place in the conference behind Maryland and N.C. State, are looking forward to displaying their improvement against all eight East Atlantic Gymnastics League teams.

“It will be exciting to finally put all the work that we’ve done into one meet and show everyone what we’ve got,” senior Elizabeth Durkac said.

The Tar Heels have placed first in all four of their home meets this year.

“When you’re flipping and twisting and you’ve got familiar visual cues, it’s easier to know where you are in the air,” Galvin said. “We don’t have to make that adjustment and other teams do.”

But the Tar Heels will have to adjust to a different rotation of events.

In a random selection process before the season began, the teams were assigned their event order for the championship. UNC’s first event will be the uneven bars, followed by the balance beam, the floor exercise and, finally, the vault.

Unlike regular season meets with two teams, teams in this weekend’s meet have four byes to space out event competitions, and UNC will be ending the meet on a bye.

“I don’t think anyone enjoys sitting on a bye watching the last rotation, because you can’t do anything about what’s going to happen,” Galvin said.

Nonetheless, the team is content with its situation going into the meet.

“We’re reaching our peak at this point in the season,” senior Maura Masatsugu said. “I expect us to have a fantastic meet — hopefully the best one we’ve had so far.”

But Galvin believes the momentum the team is riding on isn’t enough to get the Tar Heels where they want to be.

“We’ve had some outstanding performances on each of the events during the course of the season. We’ve only put it all together twice, though,” Galvin said. “So the mindset is it’s time to put it all together again on all four events.”

The Tar Heels don’t expect location alone to put them out of reach. Of the eight teams competing in the event, Galvin said he believes seven have reasonable opportunities to win the title.

“I expect a very exciting competition” he said. “There are a couple of teams that have a slight edge, but they’re going to have to have a very solid meet to keep those of us that are chasing them at bay.”

Contact the desk editor at sports@dailytarheel.com.

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