The Daily Tar Heel

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Tuesday March 21st

UNC gymnastics wins final event of regular season

Coach Derek Galvin’s gymnastics team needed a pep talk on Saturday, and it needed one fast.

The North Carolina squad had just won the vault and swept the uneven bars category in its dual meet against Pennsylvania, putting on the strongest performance in the event Galvin had seen in years.

But an uncharacteristically weak performance on the balance beam forced Galvin to take action to help his athletes regroup in the final event of their regular season.

UNC would go on to win the meet, beating Pennsylvania by two-and-a-half points.

“I just gathered the team together and challenged them to perform on floor, to perform fearless routines and to put everything they had out there, because we are very strong on floor,” Galvin said. “We have beautiful choreography that assistant coach Amy Smith has done with the team, and we have good tumbling.

“I really wanted the team to shine on floor after having a sub-par performance on beam.”

And UNC did.

The Tar Heels went on to claim the floor exercise to conclude the meet, adding to their first-place finishes in the vault and uneven parallel bars.

Sophomore” Haley Watts”: placed first all-around.

“I always have the most fun on floor, so maybe I felt like I was strongest there but it could have been bars,” Watts said. “I guess I finally had a complete bar routine. Everything came together.”

Additionally, senior co-captain Elizabeth Durkac — the team’s most consistent competitor — placed third in the vault, first on the uneven parallel bars, tied for first in the floor exercise and placed third all-around.

A rare fall on the balance beam kept her from placing in that event, but Galvin said he was not surprised by his senior’s poise and elegance as she moved on to the floor exercise — two characteristics she has consistently exhibited all season.

“Elizabeth Durkac has been such a steady competitor for us, and she’s actually competed with a foot injury all year long. She’s been an exceptional all-arounder, and she’s just such a well-balanced competitor,” Galvin said.

“There’s no big highs or deep lows. She’s got a maturity in the way she competes that it’s been really fun to see.”

And for Durkac, the team’s victory on her Senior Day was the perfect ending heading into next week’s East Atlantic Gymnastics League conference championship.

“It has definitely been the best four years of my life. It’s been the best opportunity I’ve ever had,” she said.

“This is the best team that I’ve ever been on. We’re so supportive of each other — all four years really, but this one was — I don’t know, we’re just very close. Like a family.”

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