The North Carolina gymnastics team brought the heat and outscored New Hampshire 196.050-195.650 at Carmichael Arena, achieving its highest overall team score of the season on Monday night's annual Pink Meet.
The Tar Heels swept the vault and had the top five scores in the event, while first-year Elizabeth Culton tied for first on the bars and placed first in the all-around category.
“I’m really happy I put together a good four events, but I’m even more excited for the team and the fact that we won and finally got that 196 that I know we’ve been shooting for that, so it’s really exciting,” Culton said.
The overall score of 196.050 is impressive — the last time the Tar Heels scored above 196 was in 2018. New Hampshire was also the only undefeated team in East Atlantic Gymnastics League competition until Monday night.
“It’s something we wanted for the team, we wanted them to taste that, so I think that’s really big for them," head coach Derek Galvin said. "Because we’ve been telling them that they’re a 196 team. We’ve seen it in practice and we’ve been telling them that 'We know what you can do, we have the belief and confidence in you.'”
In the floor routine, considered by Galvin to be the one of the team's best events, senior Khazia Hislop placed first with 9.900, only 0.05 below her career record.
With a roundoff handspring double back tuck in her arsenal of skills, Hislop stunned audiences and left her teammates cheering.
“I think that the key to success on the floor is just knowing that you’ve got it, and enjoying literally every single moment of the floor routine and having fun," Hislop said. "That’s the last thing I tell myself before my floor routine — do it just for fun — and it works.”
There was a Tar Heel on the podium in every category, an improvement over the last meet, a tri meet with N.C. State and New Hampshire, where UNC didn't place in the top three on the balance beam.
“It was a very good turnaround, I’ll say that,” Hislop said. “It’s a little bit of redemption.”
Due to the quick turnaround between the team's last meet on Saturday and then Monday, preparation for the Wildcats was focused on physical improvements instead of routines.
“We actually didn’t even have time to practice in between. So we really had to focus on recovering the right way, resting up, and getting ready more mentally for another meet," Culton said. "Because it’s hard. Not only physically taxing, but also mentally, just having two meets so close together.”
Not all of the gymnasts were in tip-top shape, many were battling illnesses and fatigue.
“We had a few people that were sick,” said Galvin. “Khazia was diagnosed with the flu last Monday, Lily (Dean) was sick. They weren’t able to train as much as they typically would until the end of the week.”
Despite not being at full strength, the Tar Heels gained some steam, snapped a three-match losing streak and reached the ambitious score they've been shooting for this semester.
“We finally put it all together, and I know we’ve been waiting for that," Culton said.
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