“Just warriors”: Maryland gymnastics overcame a bevy of setbacks at GW Invite

Maryland gymnastics freshman Emma Silberman competes on beam during the George Washington Invite on March 8, 2020. (Elliot Scarangello/The Diamondback)

Though she hadn’t dismounted yet, Maryland gymnastics freshman Emma Silberman found herself on the mat next to the balance beam. She’d fallen — her first time doing so on beam this season.

But even with the mishap, and without freshman Sophia LeBlanc — a mainstay in the beam lineup over the past few weeks — Silberman’s teammates were able to salvage a quality score in the event in Sunday’s George Washington Invite.

LeBlanc was inactive due to an ankle injury suffered during practice on Thursday. Sophomore Alexsis Rubio also missed the meet after sustaining an elbow injury during the team’s Friday night meet at Towson.

But throughout Sunday, the Terps managed to put together sound routines in spite of the injuries, sickness and falls. So, given all the obstacles in their way this weekend, coach Brett Nelligan and his team were satisfied with their third-place score of 195.300.

“We had a lot going on this week, you know,” Nelligan said. “I don’t want to make excuses, but I’m just really proud of how tough this team is. We had a meet two days ago; we had kids get banged up in that meet; we had kids throwing up today. They’re just warriors.”

[Read more: Falls add up as Maryland gymnastics posts 195.300 at George Washington Invite]

Nelligan said junior Randi Morris and senior Emma Johnson were sick with the stomach flu. While Johnson wasn’t scheduled to compete in any event at the GW Invite, Morris was in the lineup for vault and floor.

She had no trouble with vault, but problems were evident on floor. A botched pass led to a season-low 9.050 for the junior. While the Terps thought they could have done better overall, they still posted a 48.525 score thanks to big routines from juniors Collea Burgess and Sabriyya Rouse.

“What I like is the way that they respond,” Nelligan said. “That’s what they’ve done all year. Any time that we come up against adversity, they have this ability to step their game up. They came out of floor frustrated, and they really attacked vault and bars.

Maryland competed on vault following its below-average performance on floor, and it was the only event where the team didn’t have a single fall.

[Read more: Photo essay: Maryland gymnastics wins out in the Towson Tri with 196.350]

Another challenge presented by Sunday’s meet was that it was the Terps’ second meet in three days. They were victorious in the meet on Friday, earning their second-highest score of the season.

While the Rubio injury was the most evident ailment from the meet, fatigue also took a toll on the rest of the roster after the Towson Tri.

“It definitely affected us a little bit, but at the same time, it’s a new day,” senior Tiara Wright said. “You don’t think too much about it; you don’t think about the soreness. You really focus on your job for the day and going out there and doing what you need to do for your team.”

Illness and injury both afflicted Maryland on Sunday. Although their overall team score decreased by more than a point between Friday and Sunday, the Terps thought they did everything they could in order to stay on track this season.

“At the end of the day, it still comes down to the fact that the team kept sticking together,” senior Alecia Farina said. “We still have a few meets to get back, so I think we kept pushing, we kept fighting and giving the judges what we could do.”

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