At the end of Sunday’s quad meet, Maryland gymnastics seniors Sarah Faller, Emily Brauckmuller and Leah Slobodin held bouquets of flowers and embraced their teammates and coaches.
Then, to cap the Senior Day ceremony, the trio stood with their families and watched tributes on the video board that included highlights from their childhoods.
Coach Brett Nelligan said before the meet the team needed to perform for the seniors and have fun together. Freshman Morgan Bixler echoed that thought, saying the veterans had “given everything for us.”
The result of the Terps’ effort was a second-place finish and their second-highest score of the season (195.475). Maryland fell to No. 9 Kentucky by .375, but beat Penn (193.425) and William & Mary (192.825).
“I’ll miss Emily’s fierce competitiveness,” Nelligan said. “I’ll miss Sarah’s caring, warm heart. I’ll miss Leah’s spunky, fun personality.”
Before the team honored the seniors, though, the rookies paced the early performances. Freshmen Kirsten Peterman, Deanna Magro, Morgan Bixler, and Alecia Farina each recorded at least a 9.70 on vault to propel the Terps to a .575 lead after the first rotation. After posting a 9.90 at George Washington on Friday, Bixler tied Faller with a team-high 9.825.
The Wildcats, who ranked eighth in the country on beam entering Sunday, separated themselves in that event from the Terps. The Wildcats garnered a 49.175 to the Terps’ 48.500.
Before her floor routine in the final rotation, Brauckmuller was talking to herself, isolated from her teammates. She soon anchored with a meet-high 9.875 to give Maryland its second-best team score on the campaign.
“I just go through my floor routine, tell myself what to do every pass,” Brauckmuller said. “I go through my routine over and over again until I hear Alecia [Farina’s] music stop.”
Before the meet, the program unfurled banners above the suites opposite the crowd to honor Brauckmuller, Faller and Slobodin. Though Brauckmuller noticed the banners and acknowledged she was excited to have her family attend, she said she wasn’t as emotional as she thought she’d be.
“It’s going to hit me more when it’s officially our last meet here,” Brauckmuller said. “I’m hoping I’ll get a little more emotional.”