The Daily Tar Heel

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Friday March 24th

Aloi, Cosentino boost gymnastics team to win

Staff head shots - orientation
Buy Photos Staff head shots - orientation

Undefeated at home. Best team score of the season. A first place all-around individual performer.

For the North Carolina gymnastics team, the list of achievements goes on and on.

Following Friday night’s 194.8 to 193.875 victory against then-unbeaten Pittsburgh (3-1), the Tar Heels (4-2), as a team, had plenty to celebrate.

But for coach Derek Galvin, his team’s dominating win against the Panthers was all about just two moments.

“For me and for our entire team and our athletic training staff, to have Kristin Aloi vault and Acacia Cosentino do a floor routine was huge,” Galvin said.

Aloi, who has not vaulted since 2012 after suffering a season-ending foot injury, filled in on the vault for freshman Christina Pheil, who was out Friday with an ankle injury of her own.

Instead of playing it safe with her first routine in almost two years, Aloi chose to test herself, adding an additional twist to her act.

“Our plan was for her to do a laid-out Yurchenko, which is the same vault but without a twist,” Galvin said.

“The laid-out Yurchenko has a start value of 9.8, but when she adds that twist, it has a 10.0 start value.”

Aloi’s run may have earned her a score of 9.8 and a third-place finish overall on the vault, but she was far from the only gymnast to step up for North Carolina on Friday.

Cosentino, who missed the entirety of last season after tearing her Achilles tendon in the preseason, had an equally eventful day for the Tar Heels.

Cosentino scored 9.825 for her routine on the uneven bars, which was good for second place overall.

The senior also completed, with Galvin helping to spot, her first exhibition floor routine of the season.

In a night where North Carolina appeared overmatched on paper, it was the unlikeliest of performances that helped the Tar Heels produce their best team score so far this season.

Aloi and Cosentino, still recovering from injury, each made it to the podium on Friday night.

Freshman Margaret Brown, who was filling in for redshirt senior co-captain Michelle Ikoma on the vault, earned a personal-best score.

Lastly, freshman Megan Marenghi delivered some of her best individual scores of the season on both the uneven bars and the balance beam, scoring a 9.75 in both events.

Even though her performances were key in a dominating effort by the Tar Heels, Marenghi stressed the importance for North Carolina of being able to finish its meets well.

“You know, we try to break it down into four quarters, almost like in football,” Marenghi said.

“You can have a great first quarter or second quarter, but when you get towards the end, even if you’re on top, then it’s easy to let it go.”

North Carolina took the lead after the first event of the night and never turned back.

The Tar Heels would go on to sweep the uneven bars and take the top two all-around spots as well during the meet. It was a night where the Tar Heels could seemingly do nothing wrong.

“I told them before we began competing that this team has a huge heart, and this was an opportunity for them to show everybody how big their hearts are,” Galvin said.

“And they did.”

sports@dailytarheel.com

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