Heading into the weekend, the women’s gymnastics team was searching for a few big performances in hope of claiming its first victory of the season.
The Owls found those performances Saturday as they hosted the Liberty Classic Invite
at McGonigle Hall and walked away not with just one win, but four.
A season-high score of 190.150 spoke for itself as the team topped the competition.
The Owls narrowly dismissed Penn, which finished the day with a score of 187.175.
The wins also came at the expense of Ursinus (185.475), Bridgeport (180.575) and West Chester (175.625).
“I think they’re capable of going even further than this,” Owls coach Aaron Murphy said of his team. In addition to earning its first victory, the team can now cross off one of its other season objectives: achieving a score of 190 or higher.
“I hope it just builds more confidence in my entire team, knowing that each meet we have gotten better and better, and just using it to hopefully go into Towson in two weeks and try to beat this score,” Murphy said. Freshman Tiffany Sheppard, who contributed with a 9.550 on vault and a 9.700 on floor exercise, was in tune with her coach’s statement.
“I think that we did really well today,” Sheppard said. “Our goal all season, we have decided [was] that we really wanted to hit a 190.”
Senior specialist Noelle Moore paved the way with team-high routines in all three events she participated in. She posted a 9.625 on vault, a 9.65 on balance beam and a near-perfect 9.85 on floor exercise.
“It definitely boosts our spirits,” Moore said. “Also, it gives us the confidence and the drive to work even harder toward further meets and hopefully making it to nationals, but we’ll see.”
The highlight of the day came on balance beam, an event that has been the Owls’ Achilles heel all year. The performers elevated their individual games to a new level with a season-high team total of 47.025. Murphy said this was crucial to their victories.
“For future meets, no matter how well you do on balance beam you always have to improve it a little bit,” Murphy said, “because the balance beam is the event that is going to make or break the score that day.” Elsewhere, senior Sarah Liebowitz helped fuel the cause with a solid 9.700 on the uneven bars and sophomore Christine McNeill led the team on uneven bars with a score of 9.725. The Owls improved their record to 4-5 on the year, but their record can be deceiving.
The team is currently fourth in the Eastern
College Athletic Conference, a promising place to be considering the conference is the largest in the country.
“This year we didn’t know what to expect as we started off in the first meet,” Murphy said. “We started off a little low, but my expectations – and I’m sure the girls’ expectations – were to get into the 188s and 190s range. And today we broke the 190 [range], so now I’m going to push them even further.”
Anthony Stipa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.