Owls take second in Ken Anderson Invitational

Temple takes first place on balance beam.

Temple women’s gymnastics placed second in the fifth annual Ken Anderson Invitational with a score of 189.825, held Saturday at McGonigle Hall.

The Owls fell short just behind Bridgeport’s 193.975 but surged past West Chester and Ursinus.

Temple won first place on the beam, led by all-around gymnast Sylvie Borschel’s 9.725 performance, coupled with captain Heather Zaniewski’s performance of a 9.650. Those scores helped to lift the team’s beam score to a 47.900.

The women earned second place on the other three apparatus, the uneven bars, vault and floor exercise.

Freshman Hannah Popper was poised in leading her team on the uneven bars with a score of 9.600, in her first and last home meet of the season. Teammate, Sophomore Alexis Arena scored a 9.425, helping to earn a team score of 45.625. The Owls struggled on the uneven bars and that was not lost on Zaniewski who said, “We definitely have a lot more room for improvement especially on bars and floors and by the end of the season we will absolutely do it.”

The vault proved to be one of the Owls’ stronger events. Sophomore Stephanie Verry led Temple with a score of 9.750. Teammate Lauren Capone also scored a 9.700 on the vault, which added to the team score of 48.275.

The floor exercise, which is choreographed to match the twist and flips of the gymnast with the beat of the music, was dominated by both Verry and Capone. With scores of 9.825 and 9.725 respectively, giving the team a 48.025 on floor.

Arena and Jean Alban earned second and third, respectively, in the All-Around competition. Alexis highest score of 9.625 came from her performance on vault. Alexis’ all-around scored was 38.125. Alban’s highest score came on floor exercise of a 9.675. Jean’s all-around score was 38.075. First place was earned by Bridgeport’s Sasha Tsikhanovich with an all-around score of 39.275.

The Ken Anderson Invitational honored both the legacy of Ken Anderson and four departing seniors, Alban, Ebone Grant, Natalie Kahler and Margaret Walch.

During the meet, a moment of silence was observed for the man who the meet was named after.

“For me, personally, it means a lot,” coach Aaron Murphy said. “I worked under him for 4 years as he battled through his cancer, and it eventually took his life.  He was the heart and soul of this program for 21 years. All the Alumni [who] come back to watch this current team also come back because it’s labeled Ken Anderson Memorial Invitational. They were all trained by him. It is great not only for myself, but for my team.”

Tributes were given to the four seniors by their teammates as they wind-down their collegiate careers.

“The girls, the team atmosphere, seeing them every single day, we are like sisters,” Alban said.

“[They have made] a huge impact on the team,” Murphy said. “Not just speaking gymnastics wise, the impact of them hanging out as a team.  Everyone looks up to them and they have really showed maturity in the gym, they showed all the experiences they have had in practice and out of practice on the arena floor.  I love everyday going to practice. I feel like a blessed coach.”

The Owls will continue their quest for their third win of the year next Sunday at Urinius College.

Samuel Matthews can be reached at samuel.matthews@temple.edu.

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