Preparations for the upcoming women’s gymnastics season took on a different meaning of rigor compared to past years.
The Owls started working on their routines earlier than in previous seasons, and had four mock meets in the fall, the first of which was in November. The high intensity of the workouts in the fall has seemed to pay dividends as the season has progressed, sophomore Michaela Lapent said.
“I think we were physically ready earlier in the year than we have been,” Lapent said.
During the offseason, the team’s training regimen consisted of workouts sometimes as early as 6 a.m., weight training and cardio exercises in addition to practicing routines. Sophomore Mikaela Postlethwait said the team gained confidence much easier.
“It’s just helped us become better earlier than we did last year,” Postlethwait said.
During winter break, coach Aaron Murphy decided to bring 12 of his 19 athletes back to Temple for practices and the team’s opening meet last Friday night at Eastern Michigan, as he wanted gymnasts whose hometowns lie a far distance from Temple to rest up before the start of the semester.
Early on in the season, Murphy wants his team to execute what it practiced during the fall and not get caught up in the scores. The ninth-year coach is hopeful the Owls will focus on nailing what he believes to be the team’s strengths of the vault and floor exercises as the athletes steadily improve on the balance beam and uneven bars.
“Our expectations are really just to go out there and not worry about the scores because it’s so subjective and opinionated,” Murphy said. “[Scores] are definitely a secondary concern. Their job is just to hit their routine like they do in practice. We’re really excited. We’re pumped up.”
The team will continue to practice in McGonigle Hall in 2015. It will do so, however, without sharing its facilities with a men’s Division I gymnastics team, as Temple’s men’s gymnastics was one of five varsity sports cut from the athletic program July 1.
Though the cut men’s program is now a club, Lapent said the everyday routine isn’t the same.
“This year it’s definitely been a change,” Lapent said. “They practice after us now and not with us. “We’ll be cheering them on, so hopefully things will go well for them, but the dynamic is different.”
However, Postlethwait said the team has made the adjustment and is ready to move forward. She acknowledged the team continues to carry a bond with the men’s club team, similar to the one it had with the Division I team.
“I don’t think things are that different,” Postlethwait said. “I’m still very close with the guys’ team. We go to lunch during the semester and we see them passing through the gym.”
Temple finished third in the Eastern College Athletic Conference championships a year ago, but entering this season, Murphy and his gymnasts are expecting nothing but the best from the rest of the ECAC.
“As the coach of Temple, I have to make the assumption that the other schools within our conference are doing really well, so we want to push our girls to be better than they were last year,” Murphy said.
Yet, with a lot of non-conference opponents on the schedule before the ECAC Championships at Yale on March 21, Postlethwait said gauging how the Owls match up with the rest of the conference can be difficult at times early on in the season.
“It really depends on who [the rest of the conference is] competing against and how they score in that meet so it’s kind of up in the air,” she said.
Greg Frank can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @g_frank6