When the North Carolina gymnastics team took on No. 18 Penn State on Friday night, nothing could spoil the Tar Heels’ enthusiasm.
Despite losing the meet 195.925 to 192.975, the Tar Heels felt good about the progress they’ve made so far.
“The routines were, I felt, stronger quality and more confident,” coach Derek Galvin said.
Juniors Morgan Evans and Krista Jasper garnered solid all-around scores, tying for fourth overall with a 38.775.
UNC’s scores were consistent with those from earlier in the season, but Penn State’s high marks left the Tar Heels a step behind throughout the meet.
Penn State gymnast Sharaya Musser posed a big threat for the Tar Heels. Musser scored a 9.95 on the vault —the highest single score of the meet — and a 9.9 on the floor exercise.
The Tar Heels looked more confident on the balance beam than in their previous meet against Maryland. While the team suffered fewer falls this time, balance checks slowly eroded its beam scores, and the Nittany Lions claimed the event by more than a full point.
Sophomore Elizabeth Durkac scored a career-high 9.75 on the balance beam and took third place overall in the event.
“Last week in practice, I stayed really focused on not letting the nerves get to me,” Durkac said. “So this week when I got on the beam I tried to stay calm and stick it, and I did much better than last week.”
The highlight of the meet for the Tar Heels was the floor exercise. Durkac and freshman Emily Cornwell both upgraded their difficulty with new tumbling passes, and junior Krista Jasper had another solid run on the floor. Jasper was the team’s top performer on the event, and she took second overall with a score of 9.85.
Junior Taylor Brown returned to the floor lineup and debuted a new routine.
“I was so excited,” Brown said. “It felt like I was supposed to be out there and like I had done it all season.”
The uneven bars was another strong event for UNC, but Penn State’s high scores were enough to stave off the Tar Heels’ efforts. Evans was the team’s top performer on bars with a 9.825, and senior Teri Diamond tied her personal best score with a 9.8.
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