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The Daily Tar Heel

The feeling was all too familiar. For its second consecutive meet, the North Carolina gymnastics squad headed into the floor exercise feeling disappointed about its inconsistency on the balance beam.

Coach Derek Galvin had known his team needed to put up competitive scores on the balance beam to place in the top three of the East Atlantic Gymnastics League Championship — but yet again, he walked away feeling disappointed, and his team walked away with a fifth-place finish overall.

“Balance beam just wasn’t what we were planning,” Galvin said.

“The first four people up on beam did a good job, and we just couldn’t close it out. That was the difference for us finishing in the top two or three versus finishing fifth,” Galvin said.

But Galvin also knew that for the second consecutive meet, his athletes would bounce back and channel the disappointment from beam into dominant floor exercises.

And they did.

“When they came back on floor they did a great job, had some of the best routines we’ve had this year,” Galvin said. “The team was fighting to keep in the meet, we didn’t want to finish in the bottom two — that’s for sure— and so they were able to work their way back up.”

UNC finished the league championship with 194.225 points and a fifth place finish, falling behind N.C. State, Maryland, Pittsburgh and George Washington. The squad defeated New Hampshire, Rutgers and Towson in part due to the efforts of freshman Lexi Cappalli and senior Elizabeth Durkac.

Durkac was named the league’s co-gymnast of the year.

“There was never any drama with her,” Galvin said. “She’s gracious when she doesn’t do well; she’s gracious when she does do well. She’s just a wonderful person to be around.”

Durkac said the only way to describe her emotions was thankfulness.

“I know that it wouldn’t have happened without the rest of the team, so it’s not just my own award — it’s like everyone helped me to get that,” she said.

Cappalli was the only Tar Heel to place in the top three in any event. Her second place finish in the floor exercise earned her a spot on the podium — an accomplishment that she is still having a hard time wrapping her head around.

But with a little bit of self-proclaimed sass, the freshman showed confidence in her abilities and focused on enjoying herself for the final time in Carmichael Arena this season.

“It’s a little bit different than any other routine that you see out there,” Cappalli said. “I just have so much fun doing it, and I love playing to the crowd.”

Contact the desk editor at sports@dailytarheel.com.

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