Just like any other team needs a full game of good competition, a gymnastics team needs consistency and poise throughout an entire meet to bring home a victory.
But the North Carolina women’s gymnastics team was unable to pull out a complete performance Saturday, and while they topped Temple University, the Tar Heels fell to West Virginia and East Atlantic Gymnastics League rival Pittsburgh for a third place finish.
“We started off the first two events really, really well,” said Coach Derek Galvin. “There was really just that one event where we didn’t get the job done.”
That one event was the bars.
The Tar Heels started on the balance beam, earning a 48.850 and placing three gymnasts in the top eight, including freshmen Morgan Lane and Kaitlynn Hedelund.
In an unexpected turn of events, though, senior Haley Watts, a reliable competitor for the Tar Heels was injured on her dismount, leaving her incapable of continuing and leaving North Carolina without an important, consistent component of its team.
“Our goal was to have a strong start on the beam, so to have our first person go through a beautiful routine and then get injured was hard,” Lane said. “But everyone did a good job stepping up and taking her spot.”
After the loss of Watts, with poise and confidence, the Tar Heels put up an impressive 48.900 on the floor, and Lane — once again — placed in the top three with a 9.875. Junior Lexi Cappalli also tied for 10th of all gymnasts with a 9.775.
And even on the vault, on which Watts is one of the strongest competitors, UNC performed well, notching a 48.350 and putting three different gymnasts in the top 12.
“We can really take away from the first three events,” said Hedelund. “We really did fight through Haley’s injury.”
But the Tar Heels finished the night on the bars, and just as the name of the event implies, their last performance of the night was uneven.
Although Hedelund and freshman Lindsey Lemke both were able to score in the top five, UNC scored a disappointing 47.400 on the bars, almost a full point less than their next lowest score, which was on the vault.
The consistency wasn’t there, except for Lane – who has placed in the top five in the all-around in every meet this year — and Hedelund, who might just have put in her most consistent performance of the year, tying for first place in the all-around competition.
“The bars are usually our best rotation,” Lane said. “By the time we got to them, we just weren’t sure what happened. We were still fighting, but it just wasn’t our best.”
Even though the Tar Heels might not have performed at their best or most consistent, they have the opportunity for revenge when they take on Pittsburgh at home in Chapel Hill on Saturday.
“Our attention really needs to be on putting together four solid events,” Galvin said. “We really got to hit four events and maintain that focus the entire time.”
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