Despite not scoring above 196.000 until mid-March last season, Maryland gymnastics later made it to the second session of NCAA Regionals.
This year, coach Brett Nelligan’s squad burst out of the gates with a 196.150 overall score in its first meet of the season. Since the historic start, though, the team’s scores have fluctuated, due in part to the losses of junior Audrey Barber and senior Kirsten Peterman.
But after a promising meet against Rutgers in which Maryland scored within 0.200 of 49.000 in every event, the team has indicated that steadily improving, or at least consistent, scores may be just around the corner.
“With every season, it takes some time to see what the team dynamic is like. That’s just part of being on a college team,” sophomore Alexsis Rubio said. “The consistency is really important because it gives us the confidence that we need.”
The standard for the Terps is always total scores of 196.000 or higher, which means averaging 49.000 or higher in each event. They haven’t reached that mark since they hosted Iowa on Jan 19.
Though Maryland surpassed that target number only in the final event of its last meet, the gymnasts felt like their 49.150 on floor was a culmination of consistently solid scores in the three previous events.
“I think being consistent helps the whole momentum of the meet,” senior Alecia Farina said. “We always talk about taking it one event at a time. Having that momentum before you compete is really helpful.”
This weekend, Nelligan’s squad will travel to Toledo, Ohio, for a marquee Big Ten event, the Big Five meet. There, the Terps will face off against Minnesota and Michigan — two teams that rank in the top 10 nationally.
With scores hovering around 197.000 all season, both teams have also been particularly consistent so far in 2020.
The Terps reiterated a sentiment they’ve expressed ahead of each meet this year: they cannot worry about what other teams are doing. Although they are striving for consistency at this point, they don’t want to change too much ahead of Big Five.
“Our main objective is to go into this meet and treat it like any other meet,” Nelligan said, “then we’ll let the scores and the chips fall where they may.”
Maryland expects consistency to come in two ways — in individual events and in the overall score.
However, in order for the Terps’ process to improve the rankings, Nelligan recognizes that it starts in practice.
“We try to practice with consistency, we try to compete with consistency, and that’s how you alleviate the stress and pressure of the competition,” Nelligan said. “Consistent gymnastics leads to more consistent scoring, and that’s how you win and move up the rankings.”