RALEIGH — For the North Carolina gymnastics team, consistency was the goal entering Saturday’s match against George Washington, N.C. State and William & Mary.
But with burdensome injuries from redshirt senior Michelle Ikoma and freshman Christina Pheil and miscues on the uneven bars, any glimmer of maintaining focus disappeared in the team’s 193.650 third-place finish.
The Tar Heels did not start with much steadiness. Slips and falls plagued UNC on the uneven bars. Sophomore Josselyn Mackey led off with a score of 8.95, while sophomore Lexi Cappalli could only manage an 8.05. As a team, UNC scored 48.1 out of a possible 50 points. which is the second-lowest bars score of the season. The lowest, 47.25, also took place in Raleigh.
Coach Derek Galvin said he was taken off-guard by UNC’s uncharacteristically poor start on the bars.
“On bars we just had some mistakes that quite honestly were a surprise to me,” Galvin said. “I just wasn’t expecting it.”
Injuries have also contributed to the lost focus. Ikoma did not participate in the meet due to nagging injuries and Pheil has not competed in the last three meets for the Tar Heels after hurting her ankle against Maryland. The lineup changes put senior Acacia Cosentino in the floor lineup for the first time all year. She scored a 9.575.
Cosentino, who missed all of last season with a foot injury, said she knows how an injury can harm a team’s consistency, but added that gymnastics is a team sport.
“Nobody likes injuries of course — it’s really tough,” Consentino said.
“But that’s what having a team is all about. You have to be ready and I think the team has done a good job.”
Galvin said that the lineup changes are out of necessity and are meant to keep the gymnasts safe and healthy, but attributes the low scores to not having mental toughness.
“I don’t think that’s been the problem,” he said. “I think it’s just maintaining focus on all four events.”
Despite the injuries as a team, the Tar Heels scored a 49.025 on the balance beam — the highest of the season. Additionally, junior Haley Watts continued her steady season by earning second in the all-around competition with a score of 39.25.
Sophomore Sarah Peterson also had to step in because of injuries and officially competed in the bars for the first time this season and earned a score of 9.75.
Peterson said that there have been issues with the team staying consistent, but added that the commitment has not changed.
“We are suffering from injuries but we’ve been trying to pull it together the best way we can, and I think we’ve done a good job of it,” she said.
“We’re just lacking depth right now, which is hard but we’ve stuck with the lineups we have and worked with it.”
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