Murphy’s squad gains footing after slow start

Senior gymnast Alexandra Forcucci performs against Ursinus last Saturday. | Allan Barnes TTN
Senior gymnast Alexandra Forcucci performs against Ursinus last Saturday. | Allan Barnes TTN

For Temple women’s gymnastics coach Aaron Murphy, the magic number is 190.

That is the total score he’s been looking for his team to reach in its meet.

However, the team’s opening meet against Eastern Michigan and the George Washington Invitational, Temple scored 187.200 against Eastern Michigan and 187.275 in the GW Invitational.

The Owls embarked upon a rigorous offseason training regimen that began involved four mock meets leading up to the season opener. The team struggled in both meets on the bars, but Murphy believes the team’s early season struggles are not due to a lack of talent.

“I could probably attest the lower team score to the fact that I think the nerves are getting them a little bit,” Murphy said. “Some of the girls are brand new on these events.”

The nerves seem to have settled, though, as the squad all but reached the 190 mark in its most recent meet Saturday at Ursinus in a tight 189.9-189.575 victory.

Another positive for a team that is still adjusting to its new events has been the balance beam. The Owls scored a total of 48.225 on the beam against Eastern Michigan and Murphy acknowledged the beam has been the Owls best event so far in 2015.

Senior Jasmine Johnson, who has competed for Temple in the vault, floor exercise and balance beam events for four seasons, said this team just needs to lighten up somewhat and enjoy itself.

“We just need to have some fun,” Johnson said. “We haven’t really been joking around lately.”

For others, the early-season struggles are merely a way of working out some of the kinks before the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Championships at Yale in late March.

Sophomore Mikaela Postlethwait has been working on fine-tuning her status as an all-around. Postlethwait competed in the beam and floor events at Eastern Michigan and competed in the exhibition heats at Eastern Michigan while competing in the vault, beam and floor in the GW Invitational. While Postlethwait said she hopes to compete in all four events someday, there are other worthy gymnasts on the roster.

“Personally I would like to make it in all-around but I know that there are girls that have all the skills, so I know what I have to do to get there,” Postlethwait said.

Scheduling four mock meets, Murphy said, was his way of preparing his team for a meet setting before the season, and the nervous tension that can come with competition. Seeing a more capable squad in the mock meets and in practices is what Murphy said has pained him the most through the early going.

“My heart more-or-less just breaks for them because I know they can do it,” Murphy said. “They’re going through the motions necessary to be winners.”

Postlethwait acknowledged that while the team trained hard in the offseason, it’s almost impossible to simulate a real meet feeling until the season begins in earnest.

“I don’t think any of us as a team expected that many falls in the beginning but we’re using it as motivation because we know what we can do,” Postlethwait said.

Greg Frank can be reached at greg.frank@temple.edu or on Twitter @g_frank6

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