Despite recent improvement, the Maryland gymnastics team posted a season-low 47.425 on beam at Saturday's Big Five Meet at No. 19 Illinois. The event's performance doomed the Terps as they placed last with a 193.375 — their lowest score in nearly two months.
Senior Sarah Faller, who has been one of Maryland's most consistent performers on beam, fell from the apparatus in her routine. After regaining her balance, she wobbled again, finishing with an 8.975. Junior Dominique Trotter, meanwhile, scored an 8.800.
The meet, which No. 13 Nebraska won with a 196.650 and also featured Michigan State and No. 24 Ohio State, marked Maryland's first time competing in 10 days.
Coach Brett Nelligan said the hiatus may have disrupted the Terps' rhythm.
"We had found our groove," Nelligan said. "Then to go 10 days without competing, maybe we forgot what it felt like to be aggressive. If you're cautious, hesitant, it's going to show in the score."
Freshman Alecia Farina, who finished third in all-around with a 38.825, noticed the team was nervous. Farina recognized "scared looks" on some of her teammates' faces when things didn't go according to plan.
Farnia was confident the Terps would've fixed their mindset this week.
"From the beginning," Farnia said, "there wasn't as much pride or energy."
Maryland found itself in third place after the first rotation due to a 48.850 score on bars. Faller posted a team-high 9.825 in the event as the Terps hung around with their foes.
But Faller admitted the team's lack of spirit in the ensuing events was its undoing. The Terps have relied on their energy as a calming force all season, but due to postseason rules, they had to position themselves further away from their teammates.
"Brett told us on vault, 'Let's finish on a high note so we can be proud of ourselves on this event,'" Faller said. "It's just hard when the you feel like the energy could be dipping and you're trying to keep everybody energized."
The Terps and Michigan State are slotted to compete at noon in the Big Ten Championships at Rutgers on March 18.
Nelligan is confident the Terps will bounce back.
"They're upset," Nelligan said. "We'll know better how to deal with those nerves. They know that they're capable of better than that."