Maryland gymnastics’ Sunday showdown against No. 18 Minnesota ended in defeat. The Golden Gophers’ high-powered vault and floor routines handed coach Brett Nelligan’s squad its third loss of the season in spite of the Terps’ 196.650 score, their second highest mark of the season.
Despite the loss, Maryland’s floor exercise outshined the other three events with a 49.450 score, the highest floor exercise score by the program in six years. The Terps finished No. 40 on the event in 2022, making it their worst event statistically.
Taylor Rech, who has led off for Maryland in every meet on floor, earned her season and career high of 9.850. Rech averages 9.786 on the event.
“She has a great dance that gets the crowd involved,” Nelligan said. “And it kind of sets that scoring tone for us.”
The immense energy translated to Rhea Leblanc, who earned a 9.800. Leblanc displayed a rudi, a one-and-a-half twist, for her final pass. Her chest and head lifted up rather than in a downward position as she hit the floor, showing great control and mastery of the landing.
Leblanc improved her score from last Friday’s meet against Southern Connecticut State, where she earned a 9.675.
Maddie Komoroski, the third Terp to compete on the floor, checked off all tumbling, dancing and leaping elements in her routine. Komoroski scored 9.925, a career high for the freshman who has previously earned multiple 9.900s on the balance beam.
[No. 24 Maryland gymnastics struggles on vault, loses to Minnesota 196.800-196.650]
Komoroski’s leap series, a switch-ring to a turning switch-ring, amplifies the difficulty of the routine. Her execution of the sequence Sunday was on full display as she was able to bring her head to her back leg, make a 180-degree split in the air and land the leaps without a major flaw.
Komoroski’s confidence and poise is one of many reasons why Nelligan decided she should be inserted into the floor lineup, he said.
Emma Silberman entered the floor following Komoroski’s huge score. Silberman tied her career high on floor Sunday with a 9.900, a mark which she earned her freshman year for the Terps. The senior was guided by her upbeat, electronic dance music.
“I feel lucky to be her coach, and her journey has been incredible from freshman year,” Nelligan said. “I can’t be more proud of her.”
Alexa Rothenbuescher tied her career high 9.925 score. Rothenbuescher, the fifth gymnast in Nelligan’s floor lineup, provided a unique approach to the floor exercise. Her first tumbling pass, a whip double back tuck, incorporates a round-off to a whip into a double back tuck.
Rothenbuescher is the only Maryland gymnast to compete a whip, similar to a back handspring but with no hands.
“You can see as the night was going on, we were bringing up the intensity, and that’s what I asked them to do,” Nelligan said. “And for us to finish a weekend with two meets with that kind of intensity on floor is incredible.”
Maryland’s floor anchor, Reese McClure, finished the exercise on a high note. McClure finished with a 9.850after establishing great form in the air of her first pass, a double back tuck. Her head up and knees tucked in, McClure nailed a perfectly stuck landing ahead of the rest of her routine.
[No. 24 Maryland gymnastics downs Southern Connecticut State, 196.550-193.400]
A few dancing kicks and a final pose with her head up and finger pointing to the sky garnered her second highest floor score of the season.
“I think each person just kind of builds off the next so as far as we’re improving throughout the whole line,” McClure said. “It’s such an honor that I get to go last. I love just being able to get out there, do my thing with the whole bit in front of me.”
The Terps’ spirit on floor even had the crowd involved. Fans, friends and family in the stands of Xfinity Center clapped and cheered loudly, pushing the Terps to perform strong enough to earn a No. 29 spot on the event, increasing from week six’s No.33 position.
Nelligan’s team will look to play off of that strong passion on floor as it travels to Lincoln, Nebraska, for the Big Five meet Friday.
“We’ve got to be at this level like we were on floor on all four events,” Nelligan said. “It’s what they do in the gym day in and day out. No one trains like these kids. They’re incredible.”