It was a night of firsts and lasts.
With multiple season-high scores and one career best, the North Carolina gymnastics team showed its ability to continue to improve throughout the season in a 193.550-191.225 loss to Rutgers.
But it was also senior night for three Tar Heels. Lexi Cappalli, Josselyn Mackey and Sarah Peterson were honored after the meet, their final one at Carmichael Arena.
For Coach Derek Galvin, watching these three women compete for the last time was an emotional sight.
“It is amazing how quickly the time has gone by from their freshman year,” he said. “And I am going to miss them.”
Peterson was unable to compete due to an injury, but both Mackey and Cappalli had memorable final meets.
As she stuck her final landing and looked out into the crowd filled with familiar Tar Heel faces, from her mother and father to Chancellor Carol Folt, tears formed in Cappalli’s eyes. She ran off the Carolina Blue mat for the last time into the arms of her teammates and coaches.
“That was pretty fitting for me to end on a season-high here in Carmichael, so I was really, really happy about that,” she said.
Mackey, who typically does not compete in the event, also finished senior night on the floor exercise.
“For me it was fun,” said Mackey about her last home meet. “I got to do floor routine, it was fun. I don’t get to compete floor so I got to do that which was a really great experience. It’s just fun to get out there and dance again.”
Sophomore Morgan Lane contributed a career-best score of 9.850 on the uneven bars, enough to take first place in the event. Lane also took first place on the balance beam and the floor exercise en route to winning the all-around competition.
Although both Cappalli and Lane had standout performances, the Tar Heels were unable to overcome a strong Rutgers team.
Cappalli saw it as a night of little wins and high emotional impact, despite the loss.
“For me, it was a little bit of an emotional night,” she said, fighting back tears. “My only goal coming in here was to help the people around me as much as I possibly could so to know that I made that kind of an impact means the most to me.”
It was clear from the reactions of her teammates that she had succeeded in this goal. Following the meet all three seniors were honored with a video montage of their previous four years at Carolina.
More tears and hugs ensued.
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