WASHINGTON — Before the Terrapins gymnastics team performed on floor Sunday, junior Sarah Faller led an impromptu “Let’s go Maryland” chant inside the tight confines of Charles E. Smith Center at George Washington, which held a significant number of Terps supporters.
“We’ve been working more on our chants, because we need more,” senior Kathy Tang said. “You wouldn’t really think of it, but it’s the little things that pump us up.”
The Terps carried that energy into their floor routines, on which they posted a 49.175, their best score on any event this season. That boost helped the Terps break 196.00 for the first time this season, surprising even themselves, team members said.
The Terps finished with a final score of 196.025, their best score of the season by 0.525. They were edged out by host No. 20 George Washington (196.600) in the quad meet, but the Terps picked up wins over Rutgers (195.475) and Towson (195.275). The victories were their first wins since Jan. 10, and Rutgers was their first Big Ten victory of the season.
“We finally showed everyone what kind of team we actually are,” Tang said.
When the Terps lost to Rutgers, 194.85–194.425, on Feb. 14, largely due to two falls on the beam, they attributed it to multiple gymnasts having “a bad day on the same day.”
Coach Brett Nelligan’s squad avenged that loss to the Scarlet Knights (8-9, 1-5 Big Ten) with some of their best showings on each apparatus.
“They were upset when we lost to Rutgers at home,” Nelligan said. “They kind of made the decision that was not going to happen again.”
They eclipsed 49.000 on bars for the first time since the season-opening meet, matched their season-high of 48.900 on beam, had their best floor performance of the season and just missed out on a season high on vault. The vault score, though, was still enough to push the Terps (4-10, 1-5) over 196.000.
Before the meet, however, there was reason to believe the team might not have its best showing.
Multiple Terps fell during warm-ups across multiple events. But with adrenaline, the Terps said, they were able to hit their routines when it counted.
“After nine days and four meets, they felt [tired] coming in here,” Nelligan said. “But they were able to put all their soreness and tiredness aside.”
On beam in the second rotation, the first two Terps both had wobbles that led to scores of 9.650. Beam has been the team’s most troubling apparatus this season, but Nelligan said they were able to draw on recent success on the event to regain their confidence.
After the early beam routines, “they reassured each other,” Nelligan said. “They said, ‘No, guys, we got this, we’ve done this week after week.'”
Three of the final four beam routines scored better than a 9.800, including sophomores Evelyn Nee and Abbie Epperson each finishing the event with a 9.850.
In the meet, the Terps performed seven routines that tied or broke a career high, one of which was Epperson’s anchor on beam. Sunday marked the third meet this season — and the third in a row — in which the team hit all 24 routines without a fall.
Earlier in the year, Nelligan said this nine-day stretch would be the time the team moved back up in the rankings after some disappointing performances in the middle of the season had caused their scores to drop.
To an extent, the Terps accomplished that Friday at New Hampshire, when they lost, 195.325–195.125. They felt they deserved higher scores — and a win — and said they were hurt by the judging.
Sunday, the Terps said they finally got the scores they knew they were capable of.
“It was the best feeling ever,” Tang said. “I was about to cry.”