With their feet balancing on a 4-inch beam, the Terrapins gymnasts competing on the apparatus this Sunday will have more to deal with than just the narrow footing. In the second annual “Beauty and the Beast” event, which has the gymnastics and wrestling teams competing simultaneously in Xfinity Center, the gymnasts will have to cope with unexpected cheers during their routines.
The unpredictable shouts for wrestling will be just one of the variables the Terps will face when they host Rutgers.
Still, the event comes later into the season than it did last year, so coach Brett Nelligan expects his squad to be more prepared. Plus, the returning gymnasts have already experienced it once before.
For the freshmen, though, it will be something new.
“I’ve never participated in anything like this before,” freshman Megan McClelland said. “I’m still confused on how everything is going to fit into one gym.”
Nelligan said some equipment will move from its regular locations on the main floor of Xfinity Center. Even with the differences and coming off a third-place finish in Monday’s tri-meet at Michigan, Nelligan didn’t make any drastic changes in practice.
“It was just difficult last week,” Nelligan said. “But the goal is to have our normal high-energy, positive practices and that will carry over to the meet.”
The Terps had struggled in the practices leading up to the Michigan meet, which was reflected in the two losses and 194.075 score.
“It was kind of expected,” sophomore Abbie Epperson said, “because of the practices we had leading up to it.”
With the team nearing the midpoint of the season, Nelligan is hoping to begin finalizing his lineups on each event. Even on bars, the team’s highest-scoring event thus far, Nelligan has been making changes to the lineup, including experimenting with different gymnasts performing exhibition routines.
“Utilizing exhibition spots is a great way for them to earn lineup spots,” Nelligan said. “For example, Dominiquea [Trotter] did an exhibition, got a great score and earned a spot.”
Trotter, a sophomore, performed an exhibition on beam two meets ago and was moved into the competing lineup at Michigan.
On beam, the team’s lowest-scoring event, Nelligan has used three different lineups in the four meets. And the Terps could have another new look Sunday.
Freshman Shynelle Agaran, who was expected to compete on beam but missed the first three meets of the season with a concussion, made her debut in the event exhibition in Monday’s tri-meet, similarly to how Trotter was eased into competition with an exhibition.
Though Agaran hasn’t made her official debut yet, the rest of team is increasing its confidence and comfort in competition. And it could help them overcome a growing habit of slow starts.
“Competitions are very fast,” Epperson said. “They go by quicker than we think. Sometimes we’re not happy at the halfway point, and then we pick it back up.”
That was what happened in Michigan, when the team bounced back from a disappointing first half to hit 10 straight routines on the last two rotations.
When they take the floor against Rutgers on Sunday, they will be less than a week removed from the tri-meet, which was the first time the Terps were unhappy with their performance.
“Sometimes the short week helps,” Nelligan said. “They want to get right back out there this weekend and show the team that we really are.”