For the first time in five meets, the Terrapins gymnastics team had a full week between their last meet and the Maryland Five Meet on Sunday. Then, they had a bye during the meet’s first rotation.
The team hoped the extra time off would help them be well-rested and ready to compete. But when the Terps finally got started Sunday, they weren’t at their best.
Coach Brett Nelligan’s team finished in second place, but totaled just a 194.7, more than a point lower than the season-high 196.025 they compiled last week. And for the first time in four meets, the Terps had a gymnast fall.
“We got in such a groove of competing, competing, competing,” Nelligan said. “And they had to kind of switch gears.”
After the bye, the Terps (7-11, 1-5 Big Ten) started with a 48.775 on vault; that would turn out to be their second-highest score of the night.
“[The bye] is pretty much ‘Hurry up and wait,'” junior Sarah Faller said. “You have to try to keep your body in tune and come back out and dominate.”
After the meet, Nelligan couldn’t quite explain his team’s low marks on vault and bars, in which the Terps hit every routine but earned just a 48.775 and 48.575, respectively.
The Terps said they felt judging was tight all day, especially on those events.
On balance beam, though, the Terps had no excuses. Both freshman Megan McClelland and sophomore Dominiquea Trotter fell off the apparatus.
Nelligan said that coming into Sunday, he thought his squad had figured out the beam. After struggling on the event for much of the early parts of the year, the Terps hadn’t counted a fall on beam for three meets, earning a season-high 48.9 twice over that span.
Sunday, they scored a 48.3 on the event.
“Beam’s an event that can go both ways, no matter how confident you are during certain times of the season,” Faller said. “Sometimes it just isn’t there. That’s just the way it goes.”
Still, the Terps were able to pull it together on floor in the final rotation. They posted a 49.025, but it wasn’t enough to get their total above 195.
Senior Kathy Tang anchored the rotation with a 9.85. She compiled the same score on vault, tying for the meet championship.
Tang was the only Terp honored on Senior Day, as the other seniors were out with injuries.
“It was really great to see her finish off strong,” Faller said. “And I’m glad we came away with three wins for [the seniors].”
Nevertheless, the Terps’ 194.7 will be enough to raise their Regional Qualifying Score from No. 37. The top 36 teams make the NCAA tournament.
“It’s just a small step back, I think,” Nelligan said, despite the large score discrepancy. “We’ll get it fixed in the gym.”