UNC gymnasts grab ?fth EAGL title, earn NCAA berth

North Carolina earns NCAA berth

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Junior Morgan Evans finished second all-around in UNC’s championship campaign. Evans earned first-team distinctions in all five events.

Every team believes it can win. But the day before Saturday’s East Atlantic Gymnastics League championship, North Carolina gymnasts listed 67 reasons why they deserved their fifth league title.

“(We) just wanted to remind them of the goals we set and that we are fully capable of going in there and rocking it out there,” senior co-captain Teri Diamond said. “That even though we were ranked fifth, we were fully capable of winning.”

And that’s exactly what the Tar Heels did.

Seeded fifth in the meet, UNC finished in first place and earned its second consecutive title with a total score of 195.300. The Tar Heels’ win marked only the second time a team has won the title seeded lower than third.

“(Our confidence level) was a 10.5,” junior Morgan Evans said. “We did it last year and we’ve been on our game this whole year.”

In order to capture the title, the Tar Heels beat third-place finisher Maryland despite falling to the Terrapins twice in the regular season.

The march to the championship started on the uneven bars as Elizabeth Durkac and Evans were among five gymnasts to tie for second with a score of 9.800.

“It was that moment that everyone knew that we could really do this, that we could really win,” Evans said.

After the Tar Heels placed well in the first four events, Taylor Brown had the opportunity to seal the title for North Carolina.

Brown’s nearly flawless vault of 9.800 was enough to push the Tar Heels past New Hampshire for the title.

“When I saw her coming down the vault runway to do that vault, I saw a determination in her face and in her eyes that was a slightly higher level than what I’m used to seeing from her,” UNC coach Derek Galvin said.

Evans earned second place all-around and junior Krista Jasper placed fifth.

At the conclusion of the tournament, North Carolina had seven gymnasts named to the All-EAGL tournament team. Season standout Evans garnered first-team distinctions for all five events.

Other first-team members included Durkac, Zoya Johnson, Jasper and Kristin Aloi.

The Tar Heels now look ahead to the NCAA tournament, where they will begin competition in the Norman Regional in less than two weeks.

“It really comes down to the small details,” Jasper said. “We’re competing against some big schools and we know how to do pretty amazing routines, but it’s going to come down to who has the most sticks.”

And maybe by the time that meet rolls around, the Tar Heels will come up with reason No. 68 why they deserve to be successful.

Contact the Sports Editor at sports@dailytarheel.com.

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