The Maryland gymnastics team entered Friday night’s George Washington Five Meet having scored at least 195 points in two consecutive contests.
The Terps reached the threshold once more with a 195.725, though they fell to the No. 20 Colonials and No. 22 Iowa. George Washington tallied a 196.050, and the Hawkeyes won with a 196.40. The Terps, though, bested Pittsburgh (194.725) and William & Mary (192.725).
Leading up to the meet, the Terps preached staying focused on Friday’s meet before preparing for Senior Day during a home quad meet on Sunday.
Senior Leah Slobodin said the Terps’ “life is good, everybody love everybody” mentality has been instrumental in their recent improvement as a reminder to stay composed.
After competing on floor in the first rotation in Washington, the Terps had a bye in the second frame and went to the locker room. Coach Brett Nelligan said leaving the competition floor benefitted his squad.
“If you stay out here, you tend to watch the other competitors and sometimes that can make you tense,” Nelligan said. “I want them to leave have fun, joke around in the locker room and come back out aggressive.”
After the break, Maryland looked to its freshmen to continue the calm mindset, and they didn’t disappoint.
Freshman Morgan Bixler, who didn’t practice this week because of an ankle injury that she and Nelligan said required an injection, posted a career-high 9.90 on vault. Her meet-high score caused the Terps’ cheers to reach a peak.
“It was insane,” Bixler said. “I was not expecting it at all. I kept telling myself, ‘I want to make it happen.'”
Bixler said as soon as she felt her strong landing, she had one thought: “Don’t move.”
Senior Sarah Faller called Bixler’s performance a momentum boost.
“I was so proud of Morgan,” Faller said. “For her to have ankle issues and still come out here and stick her vault, that’s amazing. That’s going to be something she remembers her whole career.”
Freshman Alecia Farina followed Bixler’s 9.90 with one of her own when she anchored on bars in the ensuing rotation. Maryland finished the third rotation with a 146.725.
The Terps finished on beam, their lowest-scoring event of the season. But Faller anchored with a 9.925, propelling Maryland into the 195-point range for the third consecutive meet.
“I was really proud of them to go 6-for-6 on beam,” Nelligan said. “Sarah was the exclamation point.”
Nelligan still thinks the Terps can improve on beam and consistently reach event scores in the “upper-48s.”
The Terps will try to do so Sunday when they host a quad meet and their Senior Day ceremony.
“What’s great about double weekends is that if you didn’t like something you did on Friday, you have one day and you can do it all over again,” Faller said. “We’re already in our rhythm and we keep the ball rolling.”