A young girl dressed in a multicolor unicorn onesie stood in the front row of Carmichael Arena near the vault with a large smile on her face.
Each time a gymnast launched themselves into the air off of the apparatus, the girl opened her mouth ever so slightly, and her eyes doubled in size. She watched in awe as one athlete after another did their routines.
With a meet like Sunday afternoon’s, it was hard for the fans to not be in awe like the little unicorn.
The North Carolina gymnastics team dominated against William & Mary, closing the annual Mental Health Awareness meet with a 194.775-190.425 victory. This was the Tar Heels' highest season opener score in more than a decade, and they finished the meet by sweeping the first-place finishes and picking up nine top-3 finishes in individual events.
“It was very enjoyable to watch them compete,” UNC gymnastics head coach Derek Galvin said. “When you put in the hard work, you got to have fun. They performed at a very high level in terms of execution, and that was great to see. But they were also having fun.”
Between them, senior Khazia Hislop and first-year Elizabeth Culton took home all five first-place individual performances. The veteran tied her career high and won on the vault (9.900). She also took first-place in beam (9.825) and floor (9.850). Meanwhile, Culton earned first-place on bars (9.850) and the all-around events (39.050) in her collegiate debut.
“In all my time being here," Hislop said, "This is definitely the strongest start we’ve ever had at the beginning of the season. Not that we weren’t expecting it, but we were trying to be realistic coming into the meet, and I think we all were kind of shocked at what we’re actually capable of and what scores we really can get."
“It was really encouraging. It’s exciting; starting off this well.”
UNC consistently scored higher on all events, outscoring the Tribe on floor 48.875-46.325. Floor is typically the Tar Heels’ best and favorite event, and with all new routines, the team did not disappoint the fans.