No. 24 Maryland gymnastics eyes a promising performance following last years 196.025 NCAA Regionals finish, the highest score the team has ever posted at regionals.
If the Terps want to take the next step this season, they’ll need to unseat some daunting opponents.
Maryland is set to face No.2 Florida, No.15 Arizona State and No. 32 Penn State in the Pittsburgh Regionals Friday night. The teams with the top two scores of the night move on to the regional final.
The favorite, 2023 SEC Champions Florida, has averaged 197.950 across the season. 32-time All-American Trinity Thomas has led the Gators all season long in scoring, averaging 39.734 in the all-around race. Thomas is currently on pace to break the record for most perfect 10s in NCAA gymnastics history, currently sitting at 27 and only one away from the record of 28.
Another contender to move on to the regional final is Arizona State, which scored a 196.000 or better in eight straight meets in 2023. Led by PAC-12 Coach of the Year Jay Santos, the Sun Devils averaged 196.734 in the regular season. Santos’ squad finished in the middle pack of PAC-12 standings, marking 4-3 in conference play.
Penn State, who beat Towson to enter the competition Thursday afternoon, faced Maryland once in the regular season, besting the Terps by 1.625. The Nittany Lions’ high of the season came March 10, where they earned 49.425 on the balance beam.
The Terps averaged 196.231 in the regular season, a slight step up from last year’s 196.006. If coach Brett Nelligan’s team wants to move forward, it must correct its beam score, which dramatically decreased toward the end of February.
Staying on the beam is how Maryland needs to attack the event. Their highest beam score, 49.300, came March 5 when all six beam workers earned a 9.800 or higher. Their lowest beam score, 47.300, came Feb. 24 when four of six gymnasts hit a 9.625 or lower.
Additionally, Maryland is going to need to post consistently high scores. Florida hasn’t scored below a 49.175 in an event all season. The Terps have scored below a 49 thirteen times in 2023.
Nelligan’s team earned its highest score of the season 197.100 at home to close out the regular season, pushing for momentum towards the postseason. That momentum was stifled at the Big Ten tournament when the Terps posted a 195.900 in a ninth place finish.
But with the prospects of another high-profile meet ahead, an improved regional performance could be Maryland’s best opportunity to move forward to the next round compared to recent years.
“We’ve built on the energy that we’ve created all season long,” Emma Silberman said.
The regional finals Sunday will showcase the two highest scores of Maryland’s session to face the top two of California, Michigan State, Western Michigan and West Virginia.