Maryland gymnastics sophomore Alecia Farina shined with pride as she finished her bar routine in Sunday's Maryland Quad Meet, hugging the coaches and teammates after she stuck her dismount. Coach Brett Nelligan threw his fist in the air in excitement over the finish.
The Broadview Heights, Ohio, native had just anchored the Terps' bar rotation with an event-winning 9.9, ensuring Maryland wouldn't have to count a fall in its score and could carry the momentum from a strong vault performance.
The young Terps squad didn't slow down in the final two rotations, redeeming itself from a disappointing showing a week prior and flashing its potential with a 196.575, the fourth-best score in program history and highest in Nelligan's nine-year tenure.
"I am just so thrilled for the team because they're so young, and they were a little discouraged about some of our scores," Nelligan said. "They kept asking 'Why haven't we broken 196 yet?' and I just kept telling them to keep pushing. We finally did it and we can do it again."
The showing earned Maryland wins over Rutgers (193.95), William & Mary (193.65) and Brown (193.325).
Halfway through their Feb. 4 meet at Michigan, the Terps were on pace to post by far their highest score of the season and potentially upset the Wolverines. But the team faltered in the final two rotations and finished with a pedestrian 195.05.
In the quad meet, Maryland again got off to a strong start. This time, the Terps finished the job, scoring above 49 on every meet but beam, where they matched a season-best 48.95. Their 49.3 on bars and 49.2 on floor were their highest event scores of the season.
Five Terps broke 9.8 on vault — led by freshman Audrey Barber's 9.875, tying for the best vault of the meet — which gave the squad with a 49.125 in the first rotation.
Barber posted her best all-around score (39.475) of the season. She earned at least a 9.85 on all four events, but still sees room for improvement. She aims to erase wobbles on beam and improve her presentation on floor, she said, flaws she believed prevented her from scoring even higher Sunday.
"The energy of the team made me want to keep going," Barber said.
Barber anchored the meet with a 9.85 on floor, the fourth Terp to score at least 9.85 in the rotation. Farina won the event with a 9.9. The team explained its floor routines are improving due to the coaches implementing more cardio and emphasis on strong landings, holding finishes and positive interactions with the judges.
"Everything that we brought on the floor today is something that will make us keep going," Barber said. "We can only get better from here."
The Terps also attributed their success to the positivity and cheers from their teammates and the crowd. After every routine, the girls huddle together with an overload of high fives, cheers and hugs, congratulating the most recent gymnast for her performance.
Farina's bar performance elicited a particularly dramatic reaction, however, due to her ongoing injury battle.
"I have been having a lot of shoulder problems, so I am just so proud whenever I make it through a bar routine," Farina said. "I told my teammates today that my goal was to stick my dismount, so when I did that today I was super excited to finish the meet."
After the Terps' loss at Michigan, Nelligan stressed how they must continue to work on the "little things" to finish a meet. Sunday, that emphasis paid off, and a Maryland team full of freshmen and sophomores had one of the best nights in program history.
"I challenged them this week to put a complete, four-event meet together," Nelligan said, "and they did a phenomenal job."