The North Carolina gymnastics team showed flashes of its potential but couldn’t latch onto any form of consistency in Friday’s meet against N.C. State, Towson and No. 8 Michigan.
After defeating rival N.C. State in the opening match of the season, UNC was hoping to extend its momentum on the road at Reynolds Coliseum. But with a slow start on the balance beam, UNC could never quite recover and finished in third place with a score of 192.450.
Senior Meredith Magjuka opened up the match with a score of 9.8 on the beam, and junior Janell Sargent closed the beam portion with a 9.825 . But with some slips, swaying and stumbling in between, the rest of the performers missed the opportunity to follow up Magjuka’s strong start. On the balance beam, UNC finished with a score of 47.825 , compared to the 48.150 it had in the first meet.
“To have your leadoff competitor go a 9.8, the rest of the team just has to stay on, and they were all going to go in that same range,” said coach Derek Galvin. “So it was unfortunate that we weren’t able to take advantage of that.”
Although UNC did not perform well as a unit, there was some much-needed lift provided by junior Haley Watts, who placed third in the all-around competition. And from the underclassmen on the team, in the floor exercise, sophomore Lexi Cappalli and freshman Christina Pheil led the team with scores of 9.85.
Cappali said that it helps in competition to know that anyone on the team can contribute, regardless of class.
“We are truly a team of equals, and it’s really, really nice to have that because a freshman is just as important as a senior,” Cappalli said.
To prevent more lackadaisical performances, Cappalli noted that the team needs to come in with a goal of normalcy. As for Pheil, she said it’s important for UNC to come out with confidence right from the beginning.
“We just need to settle in and know that we have the routine because we’ve done the routine thousands of times,” Pheil said.
Michigan, which is ranked in the top 10, won the match with a 196.8 score and swept the top three scores in bars and the floor exercise . Although a strong team like Michigan might be used as a measuring stick for where UNC is as a team, Pheil said it’s better for the team to take a more internal approach to evaluation.
“We just have to take this experience and build from it because we unfortunately can’t go back and do this over again,” he said.
“There were moments of brilliance in there, but we just have to carry it all the way through.”
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