The Daily Tar Heel

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Friday March 24th

UNC gymnastics tops William and Mary in home opener

North Carolina gymnastics coach Derek Galvin thinks this year’s team might be the most talented he has ever coached.

With 12 returning letter winners, including five seniors, the Tar Heels are in position to win a third consecutive conference title and qualify for the NCAA championships in April.

For the time being, though, Galvin has instilled in his team a simple goal: get better with every meet.

The Tar Heels did just that in their home opener Sunday, edging William and Mary in all four events for a 193.425-189.450 win and improving their total score from the first meet. The Tar Heels finished first in the Lindsey Ferris Invitational in Washington, D.C., two weeks ago.

Senior Zoya Johnson and junior Elizabeth Durkac turned in strong individual performances Sunday.

Johnson set the tone for the Tar Heels by placing first on the vault and the balance beam, and Durkac broke personal records on the uneven bars and the floor exercise.

“That was really exciting,” Durkac said. “I’ve been working really hard, and I’m glad that it paid off.”

Senior Morgan Evans, a vocal leader of the team, placed first on the uneven bars and second on both floor exercise and vault.

A UNC-based breast cancer awareness program called Get REAL & HEEL hosted a health fair in the Carmichael Arena concourse before the meet, which helped draw a large crowd of just more than 3,500. The boost in attendance seemed to give the Tar Heels a little extra motivation.

“It makes it easier for the gymnasts to perform when they have a large, energetic, enthusiastic crowd behind them,” Galvin said.

The Tar Heels’ lowest team score of the afternoon came on the balance beam, and Galvin admits his team has room for improvement in the event.

Despite the slipups on the beam, however, Galvin said he was impressed with his team’s cohesiveness.

“They are so supportive of each other. They are committed to each other, and I think that helps each of them perform at an even higher level,” Galvin said.

Against William and Mary, UNC proved it can excel on the mats. But it doesn’t just want to stop there.

“We want to be the most cohesive team in Carolina history, and I think we’ve already accomplished that,” Evans said.

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