It seems as though injuries have defined the North Carolina gymnastics’ team’s season.
And they may have. Meet after meet, the lineup has been limited, with only five of six possible gymnasts competing on some apparatuses, most often floor exercise and vault.
But through resilience and determination, the Tar Heels posted a season-high score of 194.975 on their way to a fourth-place finish at the East Atlantic Gymnastics League Championships in Pittsburgh on Saturday.
On three of the four apparatuses, excluding the balance beam, the Tar Heels posted season-high aggregate scores, with four of the gymnasts being named to the First Team All-Tournament team for the uneven bars.
One of those gymnasts was senior Lexi Cappalli, who was also awarded the EAGL Scholar-Athlete Award earlier in the week. Capalli also earned seventh place in the all-around competition.
“Lexi, certainly, the last few meets were her best,” Coach Derek Galvin said. “She’s very bright and intelligent, and a very hardworking student and athlete… the fact that the other EAGL coaches voted for her for EAGL Scholar-Athlete was really fitting. She’s definitely shown a commitment to everything she’s done here at Carolina, and I’m very happy for her.”
Cappalli wasn’t the only impressive performance. Sophomore Morgan Lane finished the all-around competition with a career-high score of 39.400, earning her second place among all competitors. She also finished second on the floor exercise and the balance beam.
Sophomore Kaitlynn Hedelund, limited due to an ongoing ankle injury, was only able to perform on bars and beam. But she performed well on both, earning her third among all gymnasts on uneven bars and 19th on the beam.
She didn't let her injury define her season. Just like the rest of the team.
“I was very happy for the team with the way they performed. It’s been a rough year because of injuries, but it was exciting to see the way they competed because everyone on the team pushed through all the challenges they faced and they gave it everything they had.” — Coach Derek Galvin on the team's season.
Saturday was the fourth meet in a row senior Sarah Peterson was unable to compete, but it was also the fourth consecutive meet in which Morgan Lane improved upon her personal all-around score.
Three numbers that matter
5: The number of gymnasts who set or matched season-high scores on different apparatuses, including Cappalli, Lane, junior Christina Pheil, sophomore Madison Nettles and senior Josselyn Mackey.
8: The number of gymnasts who were named First Team All-Tournament for finishing in the top eight.
194.975: The score for UNC, which was enough finish fourth, beating out N.C. State (194.500) and Towson (193.875), but not Pittsburgh (195.675), New Hampshire (195.525) or George Washington (195.350).
Two gymnasts – Morgan Lane and Kaitlynn Hedelund – qualified for the NCAA tournament and will compete in the first round April 2nd. Lane will be competing in the all-around and Hedelund on the uneven bars.
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