The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Monday June 5th

Young UNC Squad Faces Rebuilding Year

After losing five seniors from the 2000 squad, the Tar Heels will be forced to rely on a mostly inexperienced unit during the year and in Sunday's season opener at William & Mary.

The outgoing contributors leave this year's squad with large voids in leadership and overall performance.

"Those five seniors, when you look at our competitive lineup from the (East Atlantic Gymnastics League) championships, made up half of our competitive lineup, so we graduated a lot of good people," UNC coach Derek Galvin said.

Despite their inexperience, the Tar Heels return Brooke Wilson, Lisa Companioni and Monica Middleton, three key competitors in the all-around.

Wilson continued her upward ascension toward the nation's elite in 2000 by finishing fourth in the NCAA Southeast Regionals in the all-around.

The burden of leadership will fall to Wilson, the only senior competitor on the squad.

"The way I think about leading is through example, work ethic and things like that," Wilson said.

Companioni and Middleton made their marks during last season. Middleton earned the third highest score in UNC history on floor exercise, while Companioni scored a 9.875 on beam, also the third highest mark.

Two others looking to fill the void in all-around will be sophomores Fritzie Cathcart and Natalie Halbach.

As a freshman, Cathcart battled nagging injuries but enters 2001 healthy and ready for action.

"Natalie and I have stepped up to the plate big time," Cathcart said. "We have to step in, because it's a team sport."

Five freshmen additions to the squad will attempt to plug the holes lost from last year's team. Three of these freshmen -- Maddy Curley, Skylar Inman and Amanda Smith -- will compete right away.

Galvin expects competitive units in both beam and floor exercise in addition to the all-around. He said his concerns lie in the vault and uneven bars, two areas in which the team lacks experience.

The team has two months to work on its problem areas before the postseason rolls around.

UNC has never had problems with sending individual talents to NCAA regional championships, but it has been nine years since the team last qualified for the NCAA regionals.

Before the Tar Heels begin worrying about regionals, they will focus on the EAGL championships, which will be held at the Smith Center.

Said Companioni, "That is a big deal for us because this is our campus, and we want to give off a good performance."

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