In her first season as North Carolina's head gymnastics coach, Danna Durante had high expectations for her athletes. After five seasons at the University of Georgia — making the NCAA Super Six in three of those seasons — she wanted to bring that winning ethos to Chapel Hill.
Eighteen meets and an East Atlantic Gymnastics League regular season title later, it's clear that the success came fast and loud.
But heading into the conference championship as a No. 3 seed, the regular season success the Tar Heels experienced came back to bite them, as they finished in fifth out of eight teams.
“We all were wanting more than fifth and certainly capable of more than fifth," Durante said. "But what we took from that is — that moment was a little bigger in some of our minds than a regular season meet."
Because of the team's earlier success, UNC will have another chance at postseason glory. For the first time since 2017, the Tar Heels advanced to compete in the NCAA Regional Championships.
They are set to compete in round one of the Raleigh Regional, held in Reynolds Coliseum on Wednesday at 3 p.m. The team will face Towson University in a one-on-one battle. Only one of the two teams can move on to compete in the second round of regionals against Michigan, UCLA and Maryland on Thursday at 7 p.m.
UNC competed against Towson a few times this season. In Carmichael Arena at the end of January, the Tar Heels defeated the Tigers by a score of 196.000-195.975.
More recently, the teams met at the EAGL conference championships last weekend, where Towson’s 196.075 points earned them a second-place finish to the Tar Heels' fifth.
Following the meet, Durante and staff have been working to help their athletes manage emotions as they prepare for regionals against a conference opponent.