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The Daily Tar Heel

Curley's Breakout Season Bodes Well for Gymnastics

Maddy Curley makes seven.

A week ago, Curley became the first UNC freshman to qualify for NCAA regionals since junior Monica Middleton in 1999.

Curley and senior Brooke Wilson will compete in the all-around, and sophomore Natalie Halbach will compete on balance beam at the meet, which begins Saturday at 6 p.m. in Gainesville, Fla.

"I was very excited and nervous because I didn't know how it worked," Curley said of her selection. "I didn't know how big of a deal it was."

The gymnast from Tallahassee, Fla., burst onto the scene this season like few Tar Heels before her.

In just the third meet of the season on Jan. 26, Curley finished second in the all-around with a tally of 38.700 at then-No. 3 Georgia.

"I think the meet at Georgia was pretty exciting, being in front of 10,000 people," Curley said. "It made me want to do well for every event."

And Curley wasn't finished.

Just a week later, Curley set a new personal best of 38.950 and finished fourth in the all-around at the Governor's Cup.

On Feb. 23, Curley raked in a personal best of 9.900 on floor exercise to finish third in the all-around. Curley's performance helped the Tar Heels defeat William and Mary and tie the school record of 195.075 points.

"Maddy didn't seem to have those jitters that you sometimes see in a freshmen," Galvin said. "She was composed and went right to it and really performed well from the outset."

As the only freshman all-around performer, Curley picked up valuable skills from the elder gymnasts, notably Wilson.

"Brooke has been one of the most influential people in my gymnastics career ever," Curley said. "She is so positive. When I mess up, I get frustrated, but she just smiles and moves on. She trains so hard everyday and is wonderful to everyone."

With Wilson graduating in the spring, Curley's emergence bodes well for the future of the program.

"It's encouraging that we have Maddy and the other freshman coming along," Galvin said. "I think they will be able to carry some of the traditions forward."

Curley's rate of success is complimented by her dedication to her team and enthusiasm for the sport.

"The most noticeable thing about Maddy is that you can't put her in a nutshell," sophomore Natalie Halbach said. "She is so dynamic and unique and such an individual. She really has such a love for gymnastics."

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