Energy soared and cheers exploded throughout the Maryland gymnastics team when its first competitor of the night, freshman Emilie LeBlanc, landed the dismount of her bar routine at Friday's Pink Invitational in Philadelphia.
LeBlanc's 9.9 on bars set the tone for the rest of the event, coach Brett Nelligan said, including freshman Audrey Barber's 9.9 later in the rotation.
Nelligan said each aspect of the bar performance was sharp, consistent and focused. But the Terps struggled on vault and beam at the meet, preventing them from capitalizing on strong bar and floor rotations and leading to a 195.15 overall score.
"The opportunity was there," Nelligan said. "We still need to hit one more beam routine and clean up vault."
About two weeks ago, the Terps scored 196.575 at the Maryland Quad Meet. Since then, Nelligan's squad has strived for another "complete meet," similar to its performance that led to the fourth-highest score in program history.
Though the 195.15 was good enough to win the Pink Invitational against West Chester (193.3) and Southern Connecticut (190.725), it was disappointing considering the Terps' bars (49.25) and floor rotation (49.125) scores were their second-highest of the season.
Sophomore Alecia Farina helped the Terps earn that floor mark by scoring a season-high 9.925. Farina attributed her success to her presentation and landings in addition to her teammates' support.
"Our team energy was really high at the meet, so it was a lot easier to have a little extra energy at the end," Farina said. "It was exciting to have the whole team right there next to you."
But Maryland's struggles on vault and beam from recent weeks continued Friday. Two Terps fell on beam, leading to a 48.025, and various miscues on vault caused the Terps to score 48.75.
Barber said the hardest part about controlling vault is to find a balance between height and a sustainable landing. Much of the time, her teammates have the height, she said, but can't control the finish.
"They just have to keep working," Nelligan said. "Believe in themselves and stay focused."