The vault and beam events led the women’s gymnastics team.
Despite a rough stretch on the uneven parallel bars, the women’s gymnastics team finished second in the Ken Anderson Memorial Invitational in McGonigle Hall.
The meet served as the Owls’ only home meet of the season and their senior day, sending the soon-to-be graduates off in a good way. Seniors Katie Canning, Kathryn Ho, Chelsea Lapent, Marissa Oxenford and Chelsea Troutman were honored after the meet by their teammates in front of a large home crowd. Of the five seniors, only Canning was unable to compete.
“It’s horrible. No, I’m just kidding. It’s great,” Oxenford said still fighting back the emotion. “I’ve been doing this sport for almost 19 years – I guess it’s bittersweet coming to an end. You don’t want it to end, but you know you have had a long trip. It’s good and bad.”
The Owls opened the day on the vault, which has been the team’s biggest strength so far this season. Lapent opened her day with a 9.375 and the Owls finished with a 47.575, placing them first over Towson, William and Mary and West Chester. Junior Kaity Watson’s 9.7 capped off a very good start for the home team.
“We started off on vault, which was great,” coach Aaron Murphy said. “We went five for six, but we only count our Top 5 anyway so that was looking really good. Bars, it was just so disappointing. You see one girl hit, one girl miss, one girl really fall apart, and it’s hard to regain that momentum.”
Unfortunately for the home crowd, the Owls fell apart on the uneven parallel bars. One of the team’s surprising strengths this year turned out to be a sour moment in an otherwise good day. Freshman Heather Zaniewski’s 9.35 was the best effort as the Owls scored a paltry 44.725 on the bars. The three seniors on the event — Ho, Lapent and Troutman — produced solid but not impressive scores with a 9.2, 9.15 and 8.725, respectively.
“I really can’t say that that’s how our bar team is,” Murphy said. “This week in the gym, our bar girls hit so many routines. This was actually the hardest week for me to come up with my Top 6 for bars because everyone [was] hitting.”
However, the girls were able to recover quickly. The beam team posted an impressive 47.125 in a solid attempt to dig themselves out of a big hole. Freshman Sylvie Borschel led the Owls with a 9.65 while Ho, Troutman and Oxenford posted an 8.75, 9.25 and 9.275 respectively.
“Going into beam it was nice to see that they could kind of pick it up a little bit,” Murphy said. “And beam’s one of those events that, it’s tough, you have to be very focused and very on – it’s just a four-inch wide beam. [The] beam team came back, [and] really brought the momentum back for us to end on floor the way we did. I think it was a good showing on floor.”
The Owls went into the floor exercise with a 139.425. Entering the final event of the meet in third place, being down 3.3 to Towson, was more than enough pressure. The momentum coming off one of their best performances on the balance beam this season helped Temple find a rhythm and finish strong.
Borschel had another big score, a 9.625, to kick things off for the home team. Junior Corrine Williams nailed her routine with a 9.825, giving her a hard-earned first place for the event, and Oxenford performed an equally exciting routine, finishing with a career-high 9.8 to cap off the day. The Owls posted a 47.3 and salvaged a second-place finish with a 186.725, behind Towson’s 190.7.
“I was a little disappointed on beam, but that’s OK,” Oxenford said. “I came back on floor and I think that’s my career high so I can’t ask for much more than that.”
Overall, it was an emotional day for the seniors.
“When it comes to be that last meet in your home arena, and it’s your senior meet, it’s a lot of emotion to take in,” Murphy said. “And here you are in a sport where you have to be very calm, very focused in what you’re doing, and when that emotion takes over, it does do things to you.”
The seniors, along with the rest of the Owls ,will look to build off the ups and downs from their meet as they continue their push for the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference title.
“This meet is just going to light a fire,” Oxenford said. “It will kick our butt and for the next meet we’ll have to do much better, and we will do much better.”
Jake Adams can be reach at firstname.lastname@example.org.