The gymnastics team, one of five Division-I teams to compete this past weekend, opened its season one week before most other teams across the country.
Despite the somewhat early start to the regular season and a 193.425-188.900 season-opening loss to Central Michigan University, first-year head coach Umme Salim-Beasley was pleased with her team’s preparedness for its first competition of the 2016 season.
“We were excited of course, but we felt we were ready,” Salim-Beasley said. “We got out there, and we did the best that we could. We focused so much in preseason on getting the girls physically and mentally prepared to compete. We did a really strong conditioning program in the fall and also incorporated some of those assignments into what we do in practice every day so that they had enough repetitions to feel they were prepared to compete.”
The Owls amassed their highest season-opening team score since 2011, when the team totaled 189.625 out of 200 at the Lindsey Ferris Invitational.
Of the four events on the day–vault, floor, beam and bar–the Owls had the most success in vault.
Out of 50 points, Temple scored 47.675 as a team, with sophomore Sahara Gipson leading all scorers individually.
Gipson walked away with a score of 9.65 out of 10 after completing her routine, followed by junior Briana Odom who tallied a 9.625.
“It was our first competition, and it was a good start,” Salim-Beasley said. “I would say each event had its strengths and weaknesses. There wasn’t one standout event where I could say we did everything exactly right. There were a few little mistakes, but I think we could see the direction a lot of the events were going in as far as building upon what we want to achieve toward the end of the year.”
Salim-Beasley was also pleased with the efforts of senior Michaela Lapent and freshman Breahna Wiczkowski.
Lapent, who transferred to Temple from the University of Bridgeport following the 2012 season, competed for the first time in uneven bars and posted a 9.45.
“I was happy to see as a senior that she is working so hard and was able in the fall to change her routine around so that she could score well,” Salim-Beasley said. “I think she did exactly that.”
Wiczkowski, from Lititz, Pennsylvania, and a graduate of Warwick High School, earned a 9.7 for her beam performance.
“I was really pleased to see that Breahna Wiczkowski, a freshman who had never had collegiate experience, really remained calm under pressure and hit some really nice routines,” Salim-Beasley said. “She was our leadoff on balance beam, and she had a great routine. That was exciting because she kind of set the pace on the event for us. “
Dan Newhart can be reached at email@example.com