The Maryland gymnastics team's toughest spot this season has been its performances on beam.
Though the Terps improved 12 spots in the national rankings from No. 41 to No. 29 last week, they were 37th in the country in the event as of Feb. 20. Coach Brett Nelligan, who admits the Terps struggled most on beam, has often tweaked the event's lineup in search of a successful combination.
The Terps had been working to best their beam season-high 48.775, which they set against West Virginia in the season opener eight weeks ago. When they traveled to Morgantown on Sunday to take on the No. 26 Mountaineers, they surpassed the mark by .20 thanks to career-high marks from freshman Alecia Farina and sophomore Shynelle Agaran.
Still, Maryland's 195.450 final total wasn't enough, as a furious rally in their floor rotation propelled the Mountaineers (195.950) to a sweep of the tri-meet. Iowa State finished second, beating the Terps by .275 in their first meeting in Nelligan's eight-year tenure.
Sunday marked the end of the Terps' two-meet slate in two consecutive weekends. This time, both came on the road. Nelligan acknowledged his team was tired but was proud of the way the Terps battled their fatigue.
"Everyone made a conscious effort to ignore it," Nelligan said. "To me, they're one of the toughest young group of kids I've ever coached."
When the Terps started on beam, Farina said, the team vowed not to let fatigue to be its fatal flaw.
"We just had to be in the moment of the meet, and have a lot of energy," Farina said.
The Terps fed off each other's confidence and energy. Prior to her routine, Farina watched freshman Kirsten Peterman, acknowledging her classmate's 9.75 beam showing helped to calm her nerves. Farina called her leap series the best she had ever done in competition.
In the next rotation, the Terps posted a 48.925 on floor. Senior Emily Brauckmuller led the squad with a 9.825, while Farina posted a 9.80. Farina joined Peterman in competing all-around Sunday.
Halfway through the meet, the Terps were in first and on pace to set a new season-high team total.
Peterman continued the momentum with a career-best 9.775 on vault, and senior Sarah Faller was the lone Terp to reach 9.80 on the event.
The Terps lost their advantage in the rotation, however, as West Virginia earned a 49.1 on beam before finishing the meet with a 49.125 on floor.
Maryland, meanwhile, ended on bars with four gymnasts scoring at least a 9.75 to ensure the squad finished the meet without suffering a fall.
"Each week, they exceed my expectations," Nelligan said. "For such a young team, to go through this portion of our schedule, which is by far the toughest, and every meet, every week, they're getting better and better — it's unreal. I'm just excited to see how far they can take it."