Freshman Katie Canning has already established herself as a consistent performer for the women’s gymnastics team, as the 5-foot-3 Billerica, Mass.-native continued her early-season individual success Saturday.
Canning earned high scores on the vault, the bars, the beam and the floor exercise to help the Owls post a season-high point total of 185.550 in their second place finish at the annual Liberty Classic at McGonigle Hall. William and Mary edged the Owls for first place by .175 points with a score of 185.725, while Ursinus, West Chester and Wilson College finished third, fourth and fifth, respectively at the Classic – the first of two home meets for Temple this season.
The Owls were aided by Canning’s strong efforts as she scored a 9.625 on the vault, a 9.475 on the bars, a 9.750 on the beam and a 9.550 on the floor to lead all Temple performers. Prior to the Classic, Canning finished second in both the floor and the bars at a Rutgers meet in Piscataway, N.J. on Wednesday.
“She’s an all-around athlete who’s showing true capabilities,” women’s gymnastics coach Aaron Murphy said.
Senior Desiree Meredith, a four-time team MVP and first-team all state performer, was also impressed by Canning. She said she sees potential in the team’s first-year performers.
“We have great freshmen to hold everything up,” she said.
“They put in 100 percent all the time and they display a good attitude,” senior Alycia Pettito added.
With the departure of graduating standouts Sarah Liebowitz and Noelle Moore last season, the Owls are left with two senior co-captains, Meredith and Pettito, a four-time regional qualifier prior to her arrival at Temple. The co-captains both excel in the vault, one of the team’s best events.
Meredith is “a powerhouse” when it comes to running full force, Murphy said. On Saturday, Meredith led the Owls with a 9.675 in the vault surpassing her previous career-best of 9.650 which she set last season.
“We did great today,” Meredith said about the team’s overall performance. “We really held up our own.”
Like Meredith, Pettito is also “very explosive” when it comes to the vault, Murphy said. And like Meredith, Pettito also achieved a career-best in the vault Saturday, posting a score of 9.600 in the event.
“This was much better than our last meet” Murphy said. The Owls lost their previous meet to Rutgers by 2.200 points. “We are starting to mold now as a team.”
The Owls will have plenty of time to continue molding. The team won’t compete again until Feb. 15 when they hit the road for a meet against the Towson Tigers.
“They have time to recap and find what they need to improve on,” Murphy said.
Joe Polinsky can be reached at email@example.com.