The saying goes that the third time’s the charm, but nobody told that to the North Carolina gymnastics team.
When UNC traveled to N.C. State Saturday night, it marked the third meeting between the cross-town rivals this season. After edging out a narrow 194.075-193.95 opening day victory in Chapel Hill, the Tar Heels fell 195.65-192.45 a week later in Raleigh, for a third-place finish in a four-team pool.
And on Saturday, UNC, on the heels of losses to Boise State and Bowling Green in last week’s Chicago Style Invitational Meet , fell to the Wolfpack again, for the second time this season 196.05-193.65. UNC finished in third place behind the Wolfpack and George Washington..
In their first meet against N.C. State, the Tar Heels rode a season-high score of 49.05 on the uneven bars to victory. On Saturday though, the roles were reversed as two uncharacteristic UNC falls on the uneven bars left the Wolfpack with an insurmountable lead . The team also struggled in the floor exercises.
“The highlight for us was balance beam as a team,” coach Derek Galvin said.
“We had a couple of out of bounds on floor and some other miscues that let George Washington get ahead of us.”
Saturday night stirred up memories of UNC’s first trip to Raleigh this season, where the Tar Heels suffered the first of their three losses this year. In that meet, UNC finished third behind Michigan and runner-up N.C. State. Saturday, the Tar Heels took third again.
Sophomore Sarah Peterson, who competed in the vault, uneven bars and floor exercise on Saturday, noted that matching up against the same team multiple times does come with some advantages.
“This is the second time we’ve competed here, so we definitely know the equipment and we know how to work the equipment,” Peterson said. “It is nice to compete against State because they are our main rival, so we know what to expect when coming into conference.”
A major difference between the two Raleigh meets was the presence of freshman Christina Pheil in the first encounter. Nearly one month ago in Reynolds Coliseum, Pheil had a strong night, scoring a 9.725 in the vault and a 9.85 in the floor exercise. During Saturday’s rematch, however, Pheil was unable to compete due to lingering injuries .
Peterson — who lamented Pheil’s injury — emphasized the toll that injuries have taken on the team as a whole and knew she had to step up individually.
Peterson, a sophomore from Huntington, N.Y., finished the night with a score of 9.75 on the vault and the uneven bars, as well as a 9.575 on the floor exercise.
As a team, the Tar Heels excelled on the balance beam Saturday, ending with a team score of 49.025.
“If we can put together the bars that we did a few weeks ago with the beam that we did tonight and just do our average performance on vault and on floor, we can be a 195-plus team,” Galvin said.
“We’ve got to put it together in one meet to do that.”
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