The North Carolina gymnastics team kicked off its first meet of the season with a 194.650-194.375 home loss against rival No. 21 N.C. State.
The Tar Heels started off on the vault, deciding to leave off senior Morgan Lane from the lineup, while the Wolfpack headed over to the uneven bars. N.C. State scored 48.675 on uneven bars while UNC scored 48.800 on the vault.
Sophomore Mikayla Robinson opened the meet with a 9.650 on vault, and sophomore Alexis Allen followed with a 9.575 after a shaky landing. Junior Madison Hargrave scored a 9.700 due to a step back after landing because of her chest being farther forward.
Senior captain Madison Nettles stuck her landing, resulting in a 9.825, one of the highest scores for the night. Khazia Hislop started off her sophomore year on vault with a score of 9.875, a career high.
Nettles started the Tar Heels off on the uneven bars. Through her vertical headstand and sticking her landing, the judges gave her a 9.800, likely docking points for separating her legs slightly before her landing. With the high score, the fans went wild, matching her expression when she stuck the landing.
Lane and senior Kaitlynn Hedelund both scored a 9.750 on bars while sophomore Grace Donaghy scored a 9.775. The team finished with a 48.550 for the uneven bars while N.C. State scored a 48.750 on vault.
With UNC trailing by 0.075 points, Hedelund kicked off on beam. Through her sassy flare on her turn and an extra hop at the end of her dismount, she ended up with a 9.675. Sophomore Emma Marchese follows with a 9.725. Lane’s beam routine contained a few bobbles. However, the senior scored a 9.825, the highest for the Tar Heels and first place overall in the event for the team.
Plagued with two falls by the last two UNC competitors, the team finished with a total of 145.125, trailing N.C. State by 1.25.
UNC started off the floor with simple but effective choreography from senior Lauren Weisel. She and first-year Lily Dean both scored a 9.825, while Nettles scored a career-high 9.9. Robinson scored a 9.775, the lowest for the Tar Heels.
Fan favorites Lane and Hislop performed their complex choreography effortlessly for the crowd, ultimately being the last hope for UNC. The senior scored a 9.850 while the sophomore set a new career high with a 9.950. However, it was not enough to edge UNC to the win.
Who stood out?
UNC, as a whole, dominated the meet despite losing. The Tar Heels took home first place overall for all four events.
Nettles had a solid start for her senior career. The captain’s score of 9.800 on uneven bars lead her to place first overall for that event and her 9.900 on floor was her career high for that event.
Hislop placed first overall for vault and floor, setting career highs for both events.
When was it decided?
The beam seemed to be UNC’s weakest point as two gymnasts fell; however, N.C. State suffered the same fate. The final score really came down to the Tar Heel’s floor routine and the Wolfpack’s bar routine. However, Hislop’s career high on the floor was not enough to edge UNC past N.C. State
Why does it matter?
After placing near the bottom during the EAGL Championship and NCAA Gainesville Regionals, UNC is looking for redemption for this season.
With this meet being against a nationally ranked rival, North Carolina was the underdog after having a bye week last week. Despite this loss, UNC showed some potential for the season once the team moves past its first-meet jitters.
Where do they play next?
North Carolina will compete at home next Friday, Jan. 19 at 7 p.m. against No. 13 Temple.
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