Senior Tiara Wright is used to plenty of cheering and excitement when she puts together a solid routine for Maryland gymnastics. But when she secured a career-high 9.925 on floor exercise Sunday, the cheers were more pronounced.
That’s because nearly 150 people from Wright’s hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, had packed Xfinity Center to root her on — many of whom were athletes at Dream Chasers Gymnastics, a gymnastics training center owned by Wright’s mother.
Wright fed off the larger support contingent, putting together a career day on bars, beam and floor to help her team to a convincing bounce-back Big Ten victory over Rutgers.
“We had a fall on bars, and she was right up next, hit a big routine,” coach Brett Nelligan said. “She had a big routine to close out beam, and then the cherry on top was that floor routine. It was incredible.”
Wright’s day began with a 9.825 on bars, a significant turnaround from her season-worst 9.325 in the event at Nebraska last weekend. Her score came right after sophomore Sanya Glauber fell two consecutive times during her routine, helping ensure the Terps wouldn’t have to count Glauber’s 7.400.
Then, the senior moved to beam, where she has been a consistent high scorer for Maryland all year. Nelligan placed her in the anchor spot, and she delivered with a 9.750 to close out the rotation.
Wright went on to finish with an electric floor routine. After nailing her final pass, she couldn’t help but jump up and down before running to her coach, JJ Ferreira. Wright described the experience as surreal.
“It was great, I literally just blacked out,” Wright said. “Having my team behind me, my coaches, as well as having a home crowd here, it was the icing on the cake.”
She was set up for success in the last event after freshman Reese McClure and junior Sabriyya Rouse posted scores of 9.900 and 9.850, respectively, ahead of her. Wright appreciated the energy her teammates supplied heading into her routine.
“Whenever someone hits and puts up a great score, that keeps the momentum rolling for the rest of the lineup,” Wright said.
The Terps have had tremendous success at home so far in 2020. With the Rutgers win, they moved to 3-0 in College Park — all three of which happened against Big Ten competition. The team was thankful to have an active audience in the arena on Sunday.
Though the atmosphere is a typical perk of competing at home, Nelligan and his squad appreciated the added help from the Wilmington crowd.
“They gave us a ton of energy,” Nelligan said. “They were into it and excited the whole time, and when we hear that energy from the crowd, it gives our team a lot of energy, too.”
Beyond her performance against the Scarlet Knights, Wright has stepped up all season long for Maryland. With two key leaders currently sidelined — Kirsten Peterman is out for the season with a broken hand and Audrey Barber is dealing with an academic issue — Wright has assumed that role.
She has scored above a 9.600 at all but one meet this year, and her coach says he’s proud of the work she’s put in to become a constant contributor for the Terps.
“I can’t say enough about what she’s doing here in her senior year,” Nelligan said. “She’s at her best right now, and she’s had to step up each and every week in really difficult situations.”