For Maryland gymnastics, it was more than words that proved its ability to operate as a unit. The Terps’ play did the work for them.
Entering its third rotation, Maryland posted an underwhelming score of 95.200, down 1.175 points to Long Island and 1.500 points to Pittsburgh in its season opener. On pace for their lowest score in 12 years, the Terps battled back collectively to narrowly edge out wins over the Sharks and the Panthers, even with their low score halfway through the meet.
After a comeback victory, young and veteran gymnasts made it clear that their unity was what got them an important win to start their 2022 campaign.
“The atmosphere is really different compared to club gymnastics,” freshman Josephine Kogler said. “Knowing that you’re competing for your team and not just yourself really pushes you to be the best you can be.”
Kogler, who competed in three of the four events, was a large reason Maryland found its rhythm. After 9.650s on beam and floor, she scored a team high 9.850 on vault — the third and highest scoring event for the Terps.
Including each dropped score on the events, Maryland averaged 9.788 and 9.725 on its latter two events — vault and bars — and 9.138 and 9.542 on its first two — beam and floor. The dropped scores of 9.750 and 9.600 on vault and bars, respectively, wouldn’t have even been on the brink of dropping on beam or floor.
Although Maryland had a rough start, no Terps fell in the second half of the meet. Importantly, they didn’t fall to the pressure while facing a sizable deficit.
Displaying the utmost composure and consistency, Maryland battled back as a unit.
Even with five different recruiting classes on its roster, including six new faces on the team, fifth year senior and three-time All-Big Ten honoree Audrey Barber feels chemistry is at an all-time high.
“I really love the team this year,” Barber said. “And the dynamic we have is great, we’re really close-knit. And we’re really all like sisters, and I just kind of love that about this year.”
Adding weight to their resilient comeback is the injuries the Terps faced. With 2021 All-Big Ten second team selection Reese McClure out due to a sprained ankle, Maryland was missing not just a valuable scorer, but a leader as well. McClure’s arguably at her best on beam, which is where the Terps struggled most in her absence.
“Reese is that kind of calm, confident beam worker that everyone looks to, to clean up. So having her in the lineup, I think kind of settles everyone down,” coach Brett Nelligan said. “Reese does have that kind of calming leadership presence on beam that I think will help us when we get her back in.”
Alongside McClure — who the Terps weren’t expecting to compete in the opener — Tayler Osterhout’s pre-meet injury led to sophomores Elizabeth DeBarberie and Alexa Rothenbuescher making their season debuts in vault and floor, respectively, posing solid scores of 9.750 and 9.800.
Given how much of a mental sport gymnastics can be, some of the Terps said their bond was a crucial part of fighting through numerous adversities faced Sunday.
While Nelligan said he was disappointed in the final score, he was proud of the united fight his team gave, providing optimism for the Terps going forward.