Odom, Owls set season-high score in 5th place finish at ECAC championships

Shortly prior to the start of the 2016 Eastern College Athletic Conference gymnastics championships in Williamsburg, Virginia on Saturday, coach Umme Salim-Beasley and her coaching staff had a message for the team.

“We had really talked at length about not having any regrets,” Salim-Beasley said. “We knew from experience that holding back on skills is just a recipe for disaster and that you almost never make it when you hold back. The worst thing is to look back and say, ‘I could have done something more.’”

Temple finished the meet fifth out of six teams, earning a season-high 192.525 team score—its previous high score was a 192.325 at the Feb. 12 IGI Chicago Style competition.

Led by junior Briana Odom, who tied with William & Mary’s Aaliyah Kerr for the conference title in floor, the Owls finished first among all six ECAC competitors in the floor competition.

The team’s score of 48.65 fell just short of its season high of 48.675 posted Feb. 20 in a meet versus Rutgers University, Ursinus College and the University of Pennsylvania.

Sophomore Alexa Phillip scored a 9.8, good for second overall followed by freshman India Anderson’s 9.775. Rounding out the scoring were senior Reagan Oliveri (9.675) and sophomore Sahara Gipson (9.575).

“The girls were able to gather themselves and we went on to floor where we had the highest score,” Salim-Beasley said. “The girls knew they wanted to finish strong, and we did that on floor and in vault.”

The bars lineup posted the third-best overall score of the six teams competing, totaling a 48.55.

Odom led the way with a 9.8 for her routine, followed by Phillip’s 9.75. Rounding out the scoring on bars were freshman Breahna Wiczkowski, who scored a 9.725 and Gipson’s 9.675.

It was the first time since Feb. 26 in the Pink Invitational in Philadelphia the Owls scored more than 48 on their bar routines

“Bars have been a rocky event for us the last couple of meets,” Salim-Beasley said. “We really worked [in practice] on putting the girls in pressure situations as far as trying to duplicate the meet scenario as much as possible. We went up and we hit our routines and the excitement really just built from there.”

The beam lineup had to count three falls toward its final team score. Odom led the event with a score of 9.7, followed by Oliveri’s 9.65 and junior Victoria Reggiani’s 9.575.

Vault was the Owls’ final event of the afternoon, and the team earned a 48.375. Leading the way was Gipson with a 9.75, followed by freshman Aya Mahgoub’s 9.725. Oliveri and sophomore Kayla Kennedy each had scores of 9.5.

With the season now coming to a conclusion, Salim-Beasley said the Owls can use this weekend’s match as a stepping stone heading into this offseason.

“We were pleased with the fact that we did have some strong showings, but a little disappointed to know that we could have done so much more,” Salim-Beasley said, referencing the fall deductions. “We know what we’re capable of going into next year, and it definitely brought confidence to the team in knowing that, ‘Hey, we are really really competitive with every other team.’”

Dan Newhart can be reached at daniel.john.newhart@temple.edu

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