With standout junior Tiara Wright unable to travel to Friday’s meet against Minnesota due to illness, the Maryland gymnastics team was shorthanded for a road meet against the No. 16 team in the country, in need of strong performances in place of one of the Terps’ most consistent performers.
Senior Alex Robinson took Wright’s place on bars, while fellow senior Shynelle Agaran filled in on balance beam, aiming to help coach Brett Nelligan’s squad continue the momentum it has built in recent weeks.
Both seniors impressed, as Robinson scored a 9.825 on bars — an event she hadn’t competed in since her freshman year — and Agaran, making her season debut after dealing with injuries since the beginning of the year, earned a 9.775.
“To be able to call on two seniors to step up and do the job that needed to be done,” coach Brett Nelligan said. “I’m happy for them, I’m proud of them, and they were incredible today.”
Behind those clutch performances, Maryland was able to break 195 for the third consecutive meet but also had a few wobbles and was defeated by No. 16 Minnesota, 196.850-195.325.
After earning their best score of the season in an upset victory over then-No. 20 Ohio State, the Terps entered Friday with the goal of replicating that success against another ranked opponent. However, the Golden Gophers’ ranking was the least of the Terps’ concerns.
“It doesn’t matter who we’re competing against,” sophomore Collea Burgess said. “The focus is still on just … doing what we know how to do and not worrying about the other team.”
Maryland started on the bars, with sophomore Emilie LeBlanc posting a 9.825, her fourth time this season posting at least a 9.8 to lead off on bars. Freshman Sanya Glauber added a 9.85, improving on her 9.825 from last weekend’s meet, and junior Kirsten Peterman then earned a 9.875, well over her previous season-high of 9.7.
“Since the beginning of the season, it’s been a little rough in terms of my consistency on bars,” Peterman said. “So to be able to go in there today and just get a consistent bar routine like I do [in] practice was just more reassurance.”
The Terps closed out with their all-conference talent of sophomore Audrey Barber and junior Alecia Farina — and neither disappointed. Each posted a 9.85, cementing Maryland’s new highest event score of the season with a 49.25.
“To start the meet like that,” Nelligan said. “I was really proud of them, the way they came out firing right at the start.”
The Terps moved on to vault, an event they earned a season high in against the Buckeyes. After starting with a fall, Maryland recovered well, scoring a 48.875 to tie the mark they set against Ohio State. Freshman Alexsis Rubio impressed once again, scoring a 9.8 in her second consecutive meet.
While the Terps had a few hops on their dismounts, they remained consistent, getting strong elevation off the table. That was reflected in the score, with five Maryland gymnasts earning a 9.7 or above in the event.
Maryland was unable to recreate its season-best floor success against Ohio State, putting up a 48.825 on Friday. Even so, Burgess and sophomore Sabriyya Rouse built off their strong performances last week, as their personality-driven floor routines earned them a 9.85 and a 9.8, respectively.
“Floor is that one event that I can actually be like ‘Hi, this is my personality … this is how I act all the time.’” Burgess said.
Maryland finished the meet on beam, hoping to improve upon its 48.825 against the Buckeyes. No Terps fell, and LeBlanc scored a 9.8 on beam in consecutive meets for the first time in her career, but middling scores and tight judging — Agaran’s 9.775 was the only other mark of at least 9.7 — prevented Maryland from quite reaching the heights of the Ohio State meet.
Even with the 48.4 on beam, however, the Terps set a new season-high road score, continuing to put their slow start to the season further in the rear-view mirror.
“Just being able to put up a 195 on the road and consistently over the last few weeks,” Peterman said, “shows how much the team has improved since the beginning of the season and how much potential we have.”