For Alexsis Rubio, Jan. 25, 2020 was a night to remember. In a close meet against Ohio State and Central Michigan, the ticket to a shot at challenging the Buckeyes laid in her performance on the vault during the Terps’ final rotation. She would need a near-perfect score to help Maryland try and pull in front of Ohio.
And she delivered.
Rubio posted a 9.90 on the apparatus, contributing to Maryland’s best team score of the year in the event. Although the Terps fell just a quarter of a point short of the Buckeyes to earn second place that day, her teammates’ excitement wasn’t dampened.
“The reaction of everyone when I did stick was just the best feeling in the world,” Rubio said. “Just having your whole team behind you and everyone gets so excited and jump around and scream and yell, it’s one of the best things about college gymnastics.”
And in recent weeks, Rubio has continued to show her ability to step up on the biggest stages.
During the first session of the Big Ten championships, Rubio excelled on vault, matching her career best. Rubio’s score contributed to the 49.225 the Terps earned on the apparatus, and their final meet score of 195.65 marked Maryland’s best-ever finish in the Big Ten championships.
Combined with the abundance of scores over 9.80 she had earned throughout the 2021 season, Rubio’s vault prowess finally earned national recognition.
Rubio was selected to compete as an individual on the vault in the second round of the NCAA tournament if the Terps lost, an acknowledgment of her status as one of the top gymnasts in the nation.
“Vault is [something] that I strive to just do the absolute best that I can on,” Rubio said. “I feel a lot of pressure sometimes to uphold a certain reputation … It was nice to have the work that I’ve been doing in the gym recognized.”
And the NCAA did so for good reason. Rubio delivered again in the Terps’ opening round meet against Eastern Michigan, registering her second 9.90 in as many meets. That score was the highest in the meet on vault among both teams and was ultimately one of the key differences that helped Nelligan’s squad narrowly edge the Eagles in round one.
Rubio’s momentum didn’t stop there. In Maryland’s tri-meet with Oklahoma and Missouri, Rubio notched yet another 9.90, tying her best for the third meet in a row. And though it didn’t help the Terps advance, Nelligan recognized that the junior shone in the squad’s last competitions of the season.
“She’s able to step up … on the biggest of stages,” Nelligan said. “It’s one thing hitting a 9.90 on some meet here or there, but to do it in the three most important meets of the year — I mean, that’s incredible.”
And now, with three years of development under her belt and the opportunity to rise as a leader on the team in her senior season, Rubio is excited for her future as a Maryland gymnast. This season’s injury misfortunes for the Terps allowed her to compete in the all-around for the first time.
Unless Nelligan’s seniors decide to exercise their extra year of eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Rubio is primed to see her role expand beyond her specialty on vault.
“I’m really excited for my senior year. I want to use everything that I’ve been working on, everything that I’ve built up to within the past three years to kind of be the leader that we need in the gym,” Rubio said.