Performing in front of friends and family, Kathy Tang posted three scores above 9.8, but the senior couldn’t carry the Terrapins gymnastics team to a victory Friday night at New Hampshire.
The Terps earned a season-high road score in their first match away from Xfinity Center since Feb. 8 but lost to the Wildcats 195.325 – 195.125, their narrowest defeat of the season.
“We joke about it, but every time we come to [New Hampshire] the Tang sisters have their highest scores,” said coach Brett Nelligan, referring to Kathy and her sister Karen, who graduated last year.
The meet was close from the start, with New Hampshire holding a .05 lead over the Terps after each of the first two rotations. The Terps pulled ahead by scoring a 49.025 on floor, but questionable beam scores allowed the Wildcats to secure a victory on their senior night.
“The judges on beam disagreed on four out of our six [routines’] start values,” Nelligan said. “I’ve never seen anything like that at this level.”
Tang competed on every event except beam, and the senior’s scores left little for the Terps (2-9, 0-5 Big Ten) to complain about.
After nearly falling on vault last meet and earning the worst score of her career, senior Kathy Tang returned to form Friday to post a 9.9 on the event, matching the career high that she set in the first vault she ever performed for the Terps.
She also scored a 9.825 on bars and a 9.875 on floor.
“It must be something about being close to home,” Nelligan said of Tang, an Agawam, Massachusetts, native. “Having a bunch of friends come out and her brother in the stands gives her so much momentum.”
Though Tang doesn’t think there’s anything special about being in New Hampshire, she said having family in the crowd does “make my heart full.”
Tang, who anchors on floor and bars and performs fifth on beam, gave credit to her teammates for hitting their routines before her and helping build momentum.
For the second consecutive meet, the Terps hit all 24 of their routines Friday, a positive sign after not accomplishing the feat once in their first six meets.
The Terps posted their second highest marks of the season on vault and floor, led by Tang’s high scores.
Those scores gave the Terps a .6 lead heading into the final rotation, but they couldn’t hold on for their first win since Jan. 10 despite not suffering a fall on the beam. New Hampshire (12-4) scored a 49.25 in their final rotation while the Terps earned a 48.5.
The Terps’ 48.5 on beam exceeded their season average entering Friday’s meet, but the team was disappointed with the scores.
“It was a little frustrating seeing the results after beam,” Tang said, “but we know deep down in our hearts we killed it.”
There was a bright spot, though. Sophomore Abbie Epperson earned a career-high 9.85 on beam in the final routine of the night, which pushed the Terps above 195 for the second consecutive meet, and third time this season.
“We’re such a young team and they’ve grown so much from the beginning of the year,” Nelligan said. “It been really fun to be a part of this group and they came out here and went 24-for-24.”
Despite that, though, the Terps weren’t able to pick up a victory. The team said its winless streak, combined with feeling slighted by the judges, provides extra motivation ahead of Sunday’s quad-meet at No. 20 George Washington, Rutgers and Towson.
“Anytime we step into an arena we say ‘Let’s pull every tenth out of the judges,'” Epperson said, “and we know eventually they’ll have to give in.”