Natalie Martin sprinted down the vault runway eyeing the table. She leaped on the springboard and pushed off the board quickly to gain momentum into the air. Martin twisted into a Yurchenko one and a half and took a slight step to the side.
The freshman was awarded a 9.875 to help Maryland tally a total vault score of 49.100, it’s highest of the season.
In its third home outing of the season, No. 25 Maryland fell for the first time in College Park to powerful No.12 Ohio State, 196.625-195.800.
The Terps (2-2, 1-2 Big Ten) came out Sunday afternoon with energy looking to rebound from their first loss of the season last week at Minnesota. Despite not seeing consistent all-arounder Emma Silbmeran in the vault lineup, Maryland’s first event exceeded expectations.
“The team did great today,” Martin said. “I feel like we had a rough beam but we came back so strong from it and I’m so proud. We had a lot of injuries going on and it just wasn’t quite our day.”
Taylor Rech began the vault rotation with a 9.775, her highest vault score of the season. Olivia Weir and Josephine Kogler followed Rech’s performance, adding two 9.800s to the total score.
Rhea Leblanc, for the first time in her career, competed on vault. She floated high into the air off the table, squeezing her feet together and displaying tight lines. The junior took a slight step before saluting to the judges, who awarded her a 9.825.
After capturing their best vault score of 2024, the Terps shifted attention to their worst event of the season so far: uneven bars.
“They stayed strong mentally and to finish like that on floor and still pull out a pretty good score,” coach Brett Nelligan said. “Considering all the changes we had to make today, I was really proud of them.”
Victoria Gatzendorfer and Alexa Rothenbuescher led Maryland to its second best bars score of the season, each tallying a 9.825. Gatzendorfer executed a strong double back tuck dismount that ended with a stick on the mat, while Rothenbuescher ended her routine in a difficult full twisting double back.
The Terps finished the rotation with a 49.900.
Coach Brett Nelligan’s team transitioned to the balance beam, its best event this season. Maryland averaged 49.142 on beam entering the meet, but finished below 49.00 Sunday.
Silberman and Weir fell off the apparatus in their leap and tumbling sequences to open the rotation. Despite the poor start, Martin and Gatzendorfer guided the team total back with a 9.875 and 9.800.
Maddie Komoroski and Kogler closed out the beam performances with a pair of 9.850s. Komoroski performed a chin stand to execute her upper balance, while Kogler hopped into a perfectly straight switch leap. The two gymnasts consistently helped Maryland’s beam unit over the 2023 season and have continued that to start 2024.
“Uncharacteristically, we lead off with two seniors,” Nelligan said. “They’re usually very comfortable out there but just kind of an odd day for them, but we trust them. … I was really impressed with that back four on beam, [they] were outstanding.”
By the third rotation, Ohio State (3-2, 2-1 Big Ten) led 148.000 to 146.525.
The Terps needed a near perfect score to take the lead in their floor rotation. In her collegiate debut, Shanie Sirota took the floor and displayed a tight double back tuck in her first pass. The sophomore moved through her routine with high flying leaps and quick turns and earned a 9.700.
“[Sirota] found out in warmup she had to go in for someone who was injured,” Nelligan said. “Her mental preparation was minutes, so I’m really proud of her to step up… she was ready today.”
But it wasn’t until Rothenbuescher’s 9.925 on floor that became the team’s highest score of the afternoon. Rothenbuescher finished her performance in a dynamic double back tuck that found the ground with a perfect landing. It marked her third 9.925 on the event in 2024.
Another few dominant performances from Leblanc, Komoroski and Martin finished Maryland’s competition with a floor score of 49.275. It wasn’t enough against a tough Ohio State squad, which handed the Terps their second consecutive loss.
“We did amazing, came back from adversity, and I feel like that shows us how great of a team we truly are,” Martin said.