When coach Umme Salim-Beasley gathered her team together after its meet on Feb. 19 in New Hampshire, she knew that there was cause for celebration.
“Umme got us together and said that she could have shed a tear because that was the most fought-for meet she’d ever watched in her life,” sophomore co-captain Breahna Wiczkowski said.
Temple broke the 194-point mark for the first time in program history in its meet against the University of New Hampshire.
“It’s an amazing feeling, knowing that you’re a part of history,” Wiczkowski said. “It really motivates us to know that even on days that aren’t our best, we can still break records.”
Following that meet came another program record score. The Owls scored a 194.9 on Wednesday in Maryland. For the fourth time in their last six meets, the Owls topped a previous program record.
“I think that breaking the school record was a goal that [the team] had for this year,” Salim-Beasley said. “From that point on, our goal has just been to improve from one week to the next, and it just happens to be that we’ve broken school records.”
“When I go up to do my routine, there’s so much to think about that I can’t think about [records] at all,” senior co-captain Briana Odom said.
In those four meets, the team has only placed first once, at the Ken Anderson Memorial Invitational in McGonigle Hall on Feb. 4.
In the other three meets, the team has placed fourth, second and third. In the first meet, Temple lost to Towson University, West Virginia University and the University North Carolina. After that, the team lost a dual-meet to New Hampshire. The team took third behind the University of Maryland and New Hampshire on Wednesday. Temple won its dual meet against Cornell University on Saturday.
“After the [New Hampshire] meet, we all just came together, and we were proud that we broke the 194 mark,” Odom said. “It wasn’t about taking second to New Hampshire. It was that we had done our best throughout the season and in our program’s history.”
“It was a little weird to get the 194 and be excited about that and still get second,” Wiczkowski said. “But at the same time, it’s more about what we can do as a team beating last week’s team.”
Salim-Beasley, her staff and the gymnasts understand that there is always room for improvement, especially on a team on which six out of the 19 athletes are freshmen.
“I think that we have to keep things in perspective,” Salim-Beasley said. “Yes we’ve broken the school record, but we’re capable of so much more and it’s important that [the team] understands that each time out is a new opportunity.”
The Owls will compete against the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia on March 10 before returning to North Broad to close out the regular season in their third and final home meet on March 12.
After that, it’s on to the Eastern College Athletic Conference Championship, hosted by Brown University.
“To improve, we have to stay consistent to what we are doing,” Odom said. “I think that a 195 is in our very very near future.”
Varun Sivakumar can be reached at email@example.com.