The Terrapins gymnastics season came to a close Saturday with three of its members performing as event specialists at the Athens Regional. All three earned at least a score of 9.70, but they would have had to win their event to move on to the NCAA Nationals.
Senior Kathy Tang was the lone Terp to compete in multiple events, putting up a 9.70 on floor and 9.80 on vault in her final collegiate meet. Sophomore Abbie Epperson scored a 9.85 on bars, and freshman Macey Roberts earned a 9.825 on floor in her first postseason action.
Epperson, who was the first Terp to compete, did her routine during the meet’s first rotation. After six George Washington gymnasts competed on bars, it was Epperson’s turn to perform, and she tallied a 9.85. It was a routine Tang said Epperson “couldn’t have done any better.”
That was a higher mark than any of the Colonials gymnasts had scored, and Epperson finished tied for seventh in the meet. It bested Epperson’s bars effort at last year’s Auburn Regional, which earned a score of 9.80.
Tang was the next Terp to perform, and she did so more than 90 minutes after Epperson’s routine. The extended rest period was something coach Brett Nelligan said his gymnasts were prepared for.
“We planned for it during the week,” Nelligan said. “We had them warm up, and then we had them sit and wait all practice.”
Still, Tang put up a 9.70 on floor, one of the lower scores of her senior season.
“It just wasn’t my best, and that’s all there is to it,” Tang said. “I wasn’t trying to do anything different. It just happens.”
Tang had a quick turnaround to vault in the next rotation, though. She tied for 15th on the event with a 9.80, a score Tang said she was more content with.
“I just wanted to make my last vault the best one it could be,” Tang said. “I scored well, and I was happy with it.”
Tang said she thinks she benefitted from competing in back-to-back rotations because it allowed her stay in a competitive mindset.
Roberts had no such luxury. The freshman from nearby McDonald, Tennessee, had to wait more than three hours after warming up to compete on floor.
It was a wait Roberts said was “by far” the longest of her lifetime, but she thought she might have benefitted from the delay.
“That whole three hours my adrenaline was building up, and I do really well when I’m really hyped up and nervous,” Roberts said.
Adding to the nerves was the fact that Roberts was the final competitor of the entire regional. Therefore, she performed on floor with “all eyes on her.”
“She kind of kept that in the back of her head,” Epperson said. “She knew she needed to be ready to perform because this will be the biggest crowd she’s ever done a floor routine in front of.”
Roberts lived up to the occasion with a strong showing (9.825).
Tang said she felt the three performers had represented the Terps well despite being in the unfamiliar situation of performing at regionals individually. They’ll hope to qualify for regionals as a team next year but were content with their last meet of the 2016 campaign.
“They just tried [to] enjoy extending their season,” Nelligan said. “We tried to make it a fun trip and enjoy gymnastics.”