The penultimate weekend in February is an unusually busy one for Maryland athletics with Terps softball, baseball, gymnastics, men’s and women’s lacrosse, wrestling, tennis, golf and men’s and women’s basketball all seeing action. Unfortunately for Terrapins’ fans, the weekend started with a goose egg when softball dropped a pair of one run decisions to Alabama and Georgia State, baseball lost its season opener at Alabama’s new stadium and gymnastics lost at home to eleventh ranked Arkansas.
Guest writer Karen Tang provided this special recap of the gymnastics meet. Karen, who competed for the GymTerps for the past four years, is now a graduate student in journalism at Maryland. Her sister Kathy is a senior on this year’s squad.
Terps Falls to No. 11 Arkansas
COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Despite some highlight performances by Maryland, their season long inconsistency on the balance beam contributed to their loss against No. 11 Arkansas, 196.150-194.425, on Friday night in the XFINITY Center.
The Gymterps have yet to win a competition at home all season.
Maryland started on vault with six strong performances. Senior Kathy Tang, fifth in the rotation, got the team pumped up sticking her dismount and earning a score of 9.825 as Maryland headed for the bars.
“I’m surprised every time I stick,” Tang said. “I just try to go hard and stay aggressive.”
The Terps headed to bars for the second rotation but fell to the pressure after freshman Shynelle Agaran missed her release move. It was Agaran’s debut appearance. Maryland recovered nicely finishing with a team score of 48.575 on the event.
“It’s just that first time freshman experience,” coach Brett Nelligan said. “The meet will start to slow down for her next week and she’ll get her confidence.”
After two rotation, the visiting Razorbacks showed why they are the eleventh ranked squad in the country. Arkansas held a 98.050 – 97.275 lead.
Yet, for the team, the confidence wasn’t there on beam Friday. The Terps had two falls and almost a third. The Terps again struggled managing only a 48.075 team score.
“It’s never good to watch your teammate fall especially when you are up next,” sophomore Abbie Epperson said.
Gymnastics is, at times, a unique sport. At this point in the season, actual wins and losses are less important than building your team score to be one of the 36 teams that qualify for the NCAA Tournament. The low team score on the balance beam meant the pressure was on going into the final event, the floor exercise.
“I tried to tell the girls to keep a high energy and keep the intensity high,” Tang said.
And the Terps responded by scoring a season-high on floor with a 49.075. Each score continued to top the one before. Sophomore Emily Brauckmuller tied her personal best with a 9.8 and freshman Macey Roberts performed a stellar routine and scored a 9.825. Tang topped off the meet equaling her career high (9.875).
“I try not to look at the scores,” Tang said. “People were saying that was one of the best floor routines that I’ve ever done and I didn’t know why. I just told myself to compete with all my heart.”
It was the Terps annual pride meet. For the Gymterps, the tradition started four years ago – every pride meet the girls would wear leotards with the Maryland flag embroider on their back. It stands for pride in our school and the values they stand for, Nelligan said.
Although the Terps may have pride in their heart, they are almost halfway through the season and have yet to win against any Big Ten Conference team.
“I think we’re close to where we need to be, that’s what I tell the team,” Nelligan said. “Every week it seems like one or two routines, if they had gone the other way, we’re right where we need to be.”
While the Terps displyed glimpses of a confident 195.000 team, Arkansas has yet to score lower than a 195.700 all year. It was the first time the Razorbacks have competed against the Terps in College Park.
The Terps are back in action on Monday, Feb. 22, against the Penn State Nittany Lions at 7 p.m. in the XFINITY Center in a makeup meet that was cancelled by winter storm Jonas.
“Let’s get back out there and hit routines and then we will feel a lot better,” Nelligan said.