A less than ideal finish for the North Carolina gymnastics team did not stop the team from celebrating the accomplishments of its seniors.
The No. 22 North Carolina finished its home campaign with a 196.250-195.225 loss to 11-3 West Virginia during its Senior Night on Thursday. For five graduating Tar Heels, the meet was their last in Carmichael Arena.
Emery Summey, Drew Aldridge, Julianna Love, Shailyn St. Brice and Leah Gneco were rewarded for their contributions to UNC gymnastics. Summey and St. Brice competed against the Mountaineers, while Love performed an exhibition routine on beam.
Summey made the most of her senior night, setting the standard for her team on both vault and beam. The senior was the first Tar Heel gymnast to perform in both of these events on Thursday, putting up a 9.775 in the team’s first rotation on vault and improving to a 9.825 on beam.
Summey’s strong performance aided her team, who struggled on beam. The event was a difficult rotation for North Carolina, as first-year Lali Dekanoidze suffered an injury in her dismount that shook the team's mentality for the remainder of the meet.
“Obviously there were some unfortunate things we can’t control,” Summey said. “But I think being able to hit both of my routines with my favorite team of all four years, I think that was such a blessing. I personally would not have wanted to end my time in Carmichael any other way.”
St. Brice also shined on her senior night by boosting the Tar Heels’ floor score, which was their worst rotation. She came into her final home performance with confidence and put on a clean, well-executed routine that resulted in a 9.825, her second-best score of the season.
“I was really excited to go out there and do my routine one more time with my teammates behind my back, and that was just a really special moment to share with them,” St. Brice said.
Though Love's beam routine was only exhibition, it gave her the opportunity to show off her skills in Carmichael Arena one last time.
Head coach Danna Durante emphasized the prowess Love showed in her routine.
“She's worked so hard," Durante said. "It was a beautiful routine.”
Between the injury of an essential team contributor and overall struggles in the second half of the meet that resulted in UNC's first loss in four meets, Senior Night for North Carolina was less than ideal.
However, Durante praised the performances of each of her seniors who competed against West Virginia, reflecting not only their athletic achievements during their time as Tar Heels, but also their character.
“They have huge heart,” Durante said. “They really do care for this team, they care for each other, they care for this community.”
The seniors are not done with UNC gymnastics yet. The team will hit the road for the two final regular season meets before competing in the EAGL Championship.
Although the Tar Heels had a disappointing performance on Senior Night against the Mountaineers, the senior gymnasts have time to prove themselves further as the postseason approaches.
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