Tiara Wright’s gymnastics career began at West Virginia, but it blossomed at Maryland

Senior Tiara Wright competes on bars during Maryland gymnastics meet at Towson in the SECU Center on March 6, 2020. (Joe Ryan/The Diamondback)

It’s been more than two years since Maryland gymnastics senior Tiara Wright has been in Morgantown, West Virginia.

It’s where she started her collegiate gymnastics career, competing as a member of the West Virginia team from 2015-2017 before transferring to the Terps.

Her time away will come to an end this Friday, though, as Maryland will travel to Morgantown for the West Virginia Quad, along with Kentucky and Penn.

Ahead of her return to West Virginia this week, Wright and coach Brett Nelligan reflected on her decision to become a Terp — a move they agree has been mutually beneficial for Wright and the program.

“I’ve grown so much as a person these past two years, and I feel like everyone who’s come across my path at the University of Maryland has something to do with that,” Wright said. “They all played a role in my growth in the most positive way possible.”

[Read more: “Just warriors”: Maryland gymnastics overcame a bevy of setbacks at GW Invite]

Wright competed in 23 meets with the Mountaineers, and she ranked fourth on the team in podium finishes both seasons. The senior’s high score on bars was 9.900 before coming to Maryland, which is a mark she’s surpassed on three different occasions this year.

By the time Wright decided she wanted to leave West Virginia, she had her eyes on College Park. And she wasn’t entirely unfamiliar with the Maryland gymnastics program, either.

“She got the release from West Virginia, and she reached out to us,” Nelligan said. “We knew each other from the recruiting process. I had gone to see her train back when she was in JO [Junior Olympics], and we recruited her back then, as well.”

A native of Wilmington, Delaware, Wright put a lot of value on location when choosing where to continue her gymnastics career. With her family as her biggest supporters, the move from Morgantown to College Park brought her about 180 miles closer to home.

“I was also really excited because I knew that I’d be closer to home, and I’m a very big family person,” Wright said. “My family already travels to every single competition, but just knowing that I was even closer to them made me feel even more at home.”

[Read more: With a contingent of hometown fans behind her, Tiara Wright dazzled for Maryland gymnastics]

When Wright reached out to Nelligan, he realized she’d be a perfect fit for the open scholarship he had available. Wright didn’t start competing with the team until the 2019 season, but she hit the ground running once she did.

Wright earned a 9.800 in her first bars routine as a Terp, which is a score she would later replicate at NCAA Athens Regionals.

And as she’s become a team leader this season, Wright has expanded her competition role to include floor exercise more frequently than at West Virginia. She’s appreciative that her decision to transfer allowed for new opportunities.

“I feel like it was one of the best things that could have ever happened to me,” Wright said. “I’m thankful that my path and my journey led me to the University of Maryland.”

On Senior Night on March 1, Nelligan told her that he was glad she found a home at Maryland. And now that she is one of the top performers on the 28th-best team in the country, neither Wright nor Nelligan could see her anywhere else.

“Everything happens for a reason, and one way or another, she was meant to be a Terp,” Nelligan said. “It worked out that she could not only be a Terp, but she’s a great Terp. She’s having an incredible senior season.”

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