With the Owls in last place before their final event – the vault – on Sunday in Washington, D.C., coach Aaron Murphy thought it was time to give his team a pep talk.
“We just got the girls together, and told them, ‘The six of you, you’re our hit squad,’” Murphy said. “So just go down there, try to conserve every point, and stick the landing. So maybe that little pep talk helped, who knows? But we always have a lot of faith in our girls to do a great job anyway.”
The women’s gymnastics team kicked off its season at the the Lindsay Ferris Invite against Penn, Cornell, and host George Washington. The Owls finished in third with a total score of 186.775.
George Washington repeated from last season as team champion with a score of 193.025, while Cornell was runner-up with 188.750. Penn finished in fourth with a score of 183.125.
Leading the way for Temple was sophomore Reagan Oliveri, who scored 9.625 on both the uneven bars and balance beam events, both team highs. She also finished with an all-around score of 38.175, good for third out of the six competitors in that category.
“[Oliveri] did stellar,” Murphy said. “I think she tries to put herself in that mental competition setting while at practice. So if she does that, you saw it fed over into that actual competition, and she did really well.”
“I was really nervous, so just knowing the team had my back, pushing me through, it was huge,” Oliveri said. “You have your good days, you have your bad days, so a good day was just the kind of day I had.”
In defending their home title, the Colonials dominated the vault and floor exercises, as they finished in the top five places in these categories. They also excelled in the uneven parallel bars, as they took the top four spots in that event.
“It’s always tricky going up against the home team because they have the equipment, they know the equipment,” Oliveri said. “We come in blindsided by it. But they’re also an amazing team, so they just had a really good day.”
The Owls will next head up to Connecticut on Thursday to face the University of Bridgeport, Southern Connecticut and Yale. Murphy said he hopes to have a more complete squad come the second meet of the season.
“We still have a couple girls out of the lineup…so if we can throw those heavy-hitters into our lineup on Thursday, it’s going to make us a lot stronger,” Murphy said.
Steve Bohnel can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @SteveSportsGuy1.