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The Daily Tar Heel

Focused effort fuels UNC gymnastics past Maryland

Staff head shots - orientation
Staff head shots - orientation

Focus.

That was the biggest issue for the North Carolina gymnastics team entering Sunday’s meet against Maryland.

But, riding the energy of sophomore Lexi Cappalli and junior Haley Watts, who placed first and second in the all-around competition, the Tar Heels never let go of momentum in their 194.8 to 192.3 victory against the Terrapins.

Before the meet against Maryland, Cappalli had never competed in all-around .

Instead of shying away from the spotlight, the sophomore shook off the nerves, remained calm and embraced the moment by earning a 39.2 score — which was good for first place.

Cappalli said that she just wanted to help the team with each event and improve upon last meet’s third-place finish.

“We were a little disappointed with our performance last week,” Cappalli said.

“And we just wanted to step it up and come back with that intent, and we were just intense from the get-go.”

As for Watts, the initial success this season has been a huge lift for the Tar Heels. Through three meets this season, the junior has placed second in the all-around competition two times, scoring 39.05 in Sunday’s competition.

Watts said the strategy of Sunday’s meet was to eliminate lapses in focus and to keep competing through all four events.

“I just try to think about staying consistent and calm throughout the whole meet and not get ahead of myself,” Watts said.

The Tar Heels had a season’s best on the vault and beam events, with scores of 48.75 and 48.65, respectively.

In the previous meet, North Carolina struggled with the bars event with a score of 47.25, but the Tar Heels improved mightily and swept the event against the Terrapins with a team score of 48.95.

When coach Derek Galvin went back and looked at the film from last Friday’s meet in Raleigh, he realized the Tar Heels were not making big mistakes.

He said the errors were a result of not being focused throughout the whole routine.

Before facing Maryland, Galvin said the team worked on keeping up the intensity in practice and that the effort translated onto the floor.

“I was very pleased with the way our team performed today,” Galvin said.

“Our goal coming into this was to compete with intent on every event, and we wanted to have a meet where we were strong in all four events — and we did that.”

Galvin said each member of the team is making adjustments and confidence is beginning to rise in everyone.

“This was the first meet in which everyone competed efficiently in the lineup,” Galvin said.

“Everyone is starting to compete more like veterans now.

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“They now realize that if they stay focused and compete knowing that the team has their back, then they are going to be fine.”

sports@dailytarheel.com