Owls staying ‘level-headed’ after setting new record

The Owls set a program record and defeated the University of Pittsburgh for the first time since 1995 to win the Ken Anderson Memorial Invitational on Saturday at McGonigle Hall.

When the University of Pittsburgh was announced as the second-place team at Saturday’s Ken Anderson Memorial Invitational, the home crowd at McGonigle Hall erupted. The Owls had just beat the Panthers for the first time since 1995.

Temple earned a 193.95 to edge the Panthers by 0.425 points, win the meet and surpass the all-time school record it set at last week’s meet at West Virginia University.

West Chester University senior all-around Majesta Valentine had the highest all-around point total in the meet with a 39.075 to help the Golden Rams come in third place with a score of 191.625, 0.775 points ahead of fourth-place Ursinus College.

The Owls, who set a program record on the vault on Jan. 14, continued their success on Saturday by earning season-highs on the beam and floor.

“We’re trying to keep the team level-headed,” coach Umme Salim-Beasley said. “Yes we’re setting school records, but we left a lot room for the judges to take deductions, so we have to see where we can improve.”

Freshman all-around Daisy Todd scored a 38.9 to lead the Owls and finish second behind Valentine. Junior all-around Sahara Gipson finished third with a 38.6, which included her career-high score of 9.8 on the floor.

“We like to say that we’re a team of finessers,” Gipson said. “This wasn’t even our best meet. We can definitely do better for next week.”

“I did my season high on vault and floor today,” Todd said. “I’m definitely getting more confident every week, and today, I came in just knowing that I could do it.”

Temple posted its two lowest cumulative scores in its first two events with a 48.525 on vault and a 48.050 on the bars.

The team finished strong with a 48.575 on the beam and posted its highest score on the floor with a 48.8.

Redshirt-senior Reagan Oliveri took home the Ken Anderson Memorial Invitational Award, which honors Anderson, who coached the Owls for 21 years before his death in 2008. Oliveri scored a career-high 9.775 on the floor, a 9.65 on the beam and a 9.675 on bars.

Oliveri suffered an Achilles tendon injury during her junior year that caused her to miss the entire 2015 season.

“It’s always tough when you’re continuing to do gymnastics when you’re older because your body doesn’t always hold out,” Salim-Beasley said. “She’s so competitive with herself that she wants to make sure that she’s guaranteeing herself a lineup spot.”

The team’s next meet will be at Towson University on Feb. 12. All of Temple’s meets will be on the road until March 12, when they take on Ithaca College, the University of Pennsylvania and Southern Connecticut State University.

“This year is the first year that we’ve had three home meets,” Salim-Beasley said. “For us to have an extra home meet before heading into some away meets is refreshing.”

Varun Sivakumar can be reached at varun.sivakumar@temple.edu or on Twitter @VarunSivakumar. Follow The Temple News on Twitter @TheTempleNews and @TTN_Sports.

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