Dressed in shiny, all-red leotards, Maryland gymnastics competed at home in College Park for the first time since March 13, 2022. It was the end of a long, 322-day wait for the Terps, who hosted a fierce No. 12 Michigan State in their home-opener.
“I feel like after last season, I just couldn’t wait to get back in,” Elizabeth Debarberie said. “It’s a feeling like no other.”
The Terps suffered their first loss of the season at the hands of the Spartans, 196.950-196.425. But under the lights and surrounded by a sea of red seats, coach Brett Nelligan’s squad posted its highest overall score of the young season.
Back on the beam was Debarberie, who competed in multiple events for the first time since the West Virginia Tri Meet. Debarberie earned a 9.800 to help the beam unit score 49.075.
“Since the first meet, we’ve just been consistently improving and I think we continue to do that,” Debarberie said.
Rhea LeBlanc improved to a season-high 9.825 on the uneven bars. Her strong form and ability to fly from bar-to-bar allowed her to beat her previous season-high 9.725 that she earned in last week’s meet against Nebraska.
The all-around consisted of four gymnasts, three of which were Spartans. Maryland’s representative, Emma Silberman, tied for third with Michigan State’s Gabrielle Stephen. Silberman and Stephen each scored 39.325 across all-four events.
The stands were filled with posters and cheers. Fans of all ages gathered to cheer on the Terps in their 2023 home debut.
It was a sight to see for both Nelligan and Silberman.
“It was just awesome. Everyone came out and supported us,” Silberman said. “It really helped us.”
“They give us that energy and you know, they’re into it,” Nelligan said. “All the little kids sitting in the front row and cheering for us…that was a lot of fun.”
Last season, Michigan State defeated Maryland, 196.875-195.950. Today, the Terps only suffered a .525 difference.
“That’s a really good team, Michigan State,” Nelligan said. “I mean they’re not number 12 by accident.”
The key to the Terps’ highest score of the season was confidence, Silberman said. She expressed pride in how well the team worked together, feeling the communication between each gymnast was very strong.
Aleka Tsiknias and Sierra Kondo collectively scored 9.900 on the uneven bars, the highest scores in any events over the course of the season so far for Maryland.
“I just love how tough they are,” coach Nelligan stated. “We are really close to where we want to be.”
The Terps will travel to Columbus next week to take on No. 11 Ohio State.