Entering its final routine Friday against Ohio State, the Maryland gymnastics team had its first real chance of the season to break a 196 score. But to do so, the Terps would have to put up a season-best total on floor — their lowest-ranked event.
And when junior Alecia Farina didn’t stick a landing during her floor routine with three Maryland gymnasts still set to compete, the odds of eclipsing 196 became even slimmer.
The Terps rallied, though, as sophomores Audrey Barber and Collea Burgess and senior Alex Robinson each contributed scores of 9.8 or higher to finish the event and give Maryland its best floor tally of the season.
It wasn’t enough to get to 196, but it was an impressive and resilient showing in an event that has plagued the Terps in past meets as Maryland used its best effort of the year in front of a raucous crowd to beat Ohio State, 195.950-194.250.
“It was awesome,” coach Brett Nelligan said. “This is what gymnastics should be — more fans, high energy, loud crowd … this is what we’re trying to build here.”
The Terps were greeted by an energetic crowd, as students donned black shirts in accordance with the blackout promotion. The fans continuously voiced their support for the Terps, further energizing the gymnasts.
Maryland entered Friday’s meet with confidence after an impressive victory at Rutgers last weekend, further buoyed by a strong week of practice. As the Terps readied to open on vault, their routines looked tight and composed and it translated to competition — they earned a score of 48.875, their second-highest total of the year in the event.
Five gymnasts posted scores of at least a 9.7 in the event, with freshman Alexsis Rubio leading the way with a season-best 9.825 and Farina and Barber earning 9.8s for the second straight meet.
On bars, sophomore Emilie LeBlanc set the stage for a brilliant team display by scoring a 9.875. LeBlanc’s performance was just the beginning of Maryland’s stellar bars performance, as junior Tiara Wright matched her score, setting a new season high in the process.
“I think it’s an amazing thing to have this [performance],” LeBlanc said. “It sets us up for more confidence going into future meets — being ready mentally and physically.”
Barber and freshman Sanya Glauber joined LeBlanc and Wright in scoring 9.8s, headlining a consistent showing on bars in which all six gymnasts scored a 9.7 or above, propelling the Terps to a 49.175, their highest score on any event this season.
Despite strong performances in the first two events, the Terps were still down on the scoreboard. However, Maryland’s beam showing gave it a lead entering the final rotation. LeBlanc, Wright, Burgess and junior Kirsten Peterman all scored 9.8s as Maryland finished just short of its season-high score in the event, posting a 48.825. Maryland’s resilience during the event impressed Nelligan.
“We’re tough and we’re gritty,” Nelligan said. “For them to just charge forward after that — I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
The impressive showing culminated on floor. Burgess and Barber scored season highs, while Robinson posted her second consecutive 9.8 to push the Terps to a season-high 49.075.
The Terps’ dominant victory establishes them as a force in the Big Ten and should help restore their confidence after an uneven start to the season.
“[This meet] builds our confidence, especially for conference and [non-] conference teams,” Burgess said. “We can really take on anyone.”
With solid team performances in consecutive meets, Maryland has hit a stride, and the team feels that this meet could be a turning point for the season.
The Terps will spend the following week trying to perfect their routines as they prepare for No. 18 Minnesota. For now, though, they will revel in their display on Friday.
“Overall, I was impressed with everyone’s performance,” LeBlanc said. “We all did our best today and I think it really showed. I mean, look at the score.”