UNC gymnastics finishes fourth at EAGL championships
The North Carolina gymnastics team finished fourth out of six teams at the EAGL championships in Raleigh on Saturday.
North Carolina sat out the first rotation as George Washington, N.C. State, New Hampshire and Towson competed. Reynolds Coliseum was filled with an energetic crowd, creating the environment that head coach Derek Galvin had warned his young team about all season.
UNC started the afternoon on bars, the event that caused them trouble a week prior at UCLA. Junior Madison Nettles, named first team All-EAGL for vault, went first and posted a 9.750. First-year Grace Donaghy fell during her routine, dropping her score to 8.725. First-year Emma Marchese tied Nettles’s score while teammate junior Morgan Lane, second team All-EAGL bars, posted a 9.725. Junior Kaitlynn Hedelund, second team All-EAGL bars, posted a 9.525 and first-year Alexis Allen, who fell during her flip, scored 8.350. The team finished with a score of 47.475, the lowest of the six teams for the first rotation.
Beam was next for the Tar Heels, and the nerves followed them from the bars. Marchese was first, posting a 9.825, the same score that qualified her for second team All-EAGL for beam. Donaghy followed, looking to redeem herself after the fall during the first rotation. She posted a 9.200 while teammate Hedelund scored a 9.800. First-year Khazia Hislop, second team All-EAGL beam posted a 9.825. Lane, first team All-EAGL beam, followed, and her solid landing broke the silence of the gym as the Tar Heels erupted in cheers. She scored a 9.775, and Allen posted a 9.875, redeeming herself as well as posting a career best. UNC finished the second rotation with a score of 96.575, moving their way to fifth place.
UNC returned to action with floor, and it was a redemptive moment for the team. Lauren Weisel tied her career high of 9.800. Collectively, the team scored a 49.100 for the event, a season high. This pushed UNC to fourth at 145.675.
Vault was another high point for UNC. The scores for the Tar Heels ranged from 9.700-9.825. Lane ended up tying for third for vault with a score of 9.825. However, despite the ground they gained to make up for its faulty performance on bars, North Carolina finished fourth out of the six teams with a final score of 194.525.
Who stood out?
Although she couldn’t compete due to a foot injury a week ago, senior Christina Pheil stood out among the low scores, walking alongside the mat during bars. The gymnasts sought her out before they competed, and they even flocked to her afterwards for encouragement. The senior’s kind words were enough to calm the team’s nerves as they continued to compete.
Marchese competed in all four events, finishing with a 39.125, only .050 behind teammate Lane.
Hislop competed in two of her best events: beam and floor. Her outstanding performance throughout the year landed her with the EAGL Freshman of the Year award while Lane was the EAGL Gymnast of the Year and Amy Smith was named EAGL Assistant Coach of the Year.
When was it decided?
Bars seemed to be detrimental to UNC, quickly placing them in last place. Although the Tar Heels found their way to as high as third during one point of the competition, they were never able to recover from the two falls.
Why does it matter?
Everything was at stake for the Tar Heels. Going into the meet, UNC ranked third out of the six teams. Although they placed fourth, the Tar Heels still qualified for NCAA regionals, grabbing the No. 35 spot.
Where do they play next?
The Tar Heels will find out their regional location on Monday.