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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC gymnastics team earns NCAA bid

Christine Nguyen performed her floor routine in a Feb. 14 match against Maryland. DTH File/Phong Dinh
Christine Nguyen performed her floor routine in a Feb. 14 match against Maryland. DTH File/Phong Dinh

Coming off a victory at the East Atlantic Gymnastics League Championship, the gymnastics team is taking its preparation for NCAA Regionals one tumbling pass at a time.

Before heading to the University of Missouri to compete in the program’s ninth consecutive regionals showing, coach Derek Galvin said the team will be focusing on the details in practice.

“Our goal is to improve our execution and continue to keep the energy level and enthusiasm high,” Galvin said.

Despite adding more difficulty to their routines at the start of the season, seniors Kara Wright and Christine Nguyen will likely not be competing their double Arabian tumbling passes in Missouri.

Galvin said Wright and Nguyen will be competing double pikes, which is in keeping with the team’s goal of having precise execution in competition.

“Ultimately it was best for the team,” Wright said. “It’s not an easy routine or a bad routine, it’s just cleaner. It was a good decision.”

Nguyen, who bruised her knee at the team’s home meet against West Virginia on March 13, agreed that the decision to remove the more difficult pass was the right one.

“I know that with a clean backup routine I can still score high,” Nguyen said.

The balance beam, which proved to be the most challenging event for the team in the beginning of the season, didn’t hold the Tar Heels back from winning its first EAGL title since 2006.

Even with top scores on the beam at EAGLs, the team is continuing to make beam routines a top priority in practice.

“Beam is a very mental event, and we had to get our confidence up,” Wright said. “We’re doing a lot of pressure sets, where you pretend you’re competing, to keep our confidence up for regionals.”

Three UNC gymnasts took the top spots in three events, with Nguyen placing first on balance beam with a score of 9.875. Sophomores Zoya Johnson and Morgan Evans took home titles on vault and uneven bars, respectively, each with a score of 9.9.

Even with impressive individual performances, Wright said her teammates’ scores wouldn’t have been possible without the efforts of the entire team.

North Carolina will face some tough competition in the NCAAs, including No. 1 seed Georgia and No. 2 Oregon State. The Tar Heels will enter the Columbia Regional as the No. 6 seed.

Even with two of the top teams in the nation competing against UNC, Galvin said the team will maintain its focus in practice.

“When we focus on keeping our objectives, we don’t have time to think about the other teams,” he said. “We weren’t focused on the other teams going into EAGLs, and it will be the same going into regionals.”

Galvin attributed the team’s EAGL victory to hard work and enthusiasm, and they plan to bring the same energy to the NCAAs.

“Right now the team is certainly at a point where we’re physically and mentally the best we’ve been all season,” Galvin said.

“We’re peaking at the right time.”

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