Sports

Gymnastics drops dual meet at Cornell

The Owls took a step back Saturday after posting improved scores in their previous competition last weekend.

A 192.125-188.875 loss at Cornell Saturday was a step in the wrong direction for the women’s gymnastics team.

A week ago in Pittsburgh, while the Owls placed last in a quad meet, their scores were improved. A season-high score in the floor exercise highlighted the performance.

The uneven bars has been an event in which Temple has struggled in all year long, and Saturday was no exception. The Owls scored over 47 in the vault, balance beam and floor exercise, but managed just 45.725 on the bars.

Saturday marked the fourth consecutive meet in which the bars were the lowest scoring event for the Owls. The meet with Cornell was also Temple’s fourth since coach Aaron Murphy was suspended for a violation of athletic department policy. The uneven bars were the biggest adjustment for interim coach Deirdre Mattocks Bertotti, who specialized in the balance beam as an assistant coach before Murphy’s suspension.

Former Temple men’s gymnast Bill Roth was brought in after Murphy was suspended to work as the interim assistant coach, and to give the Owls some tips on the uneven bars. However, Mattocks Bertotti acknowledged that while it has been close to a month since Murphy was suspended, the transition hasn’t been easy for the gymnasts.

“Honestly, they’re getting used to a different coach and it’s still affecting them,” Mattocks Bertotti said. “The consistency of not having the same coach is tough.”

Roth is with the team just two days per week, and Mattocks Bertotti coaches the team on the bars when Roth isn’t there. This coaching imbalance has created some mental instability, which in the eyes of Mattocks Bertotti has lingered with the Owls into March.

“I do believe that these girls are just mentally tired, as well, because they don’t have that one main coach,” Mattocks Bertotti said. “It’s very difficult to get everyone on the same page because this team right now is somewhat divided.”

However, freshman Kerry Arone felt that Saturday was just a bump in the road on bars and that the Owls don’t have the kind of depth when it comes to the event as they do on the floor exercise, with which the Owls again posted another good score of 47.925.

“I think we just had an off day on bars,” Arone said. “On floor we have a lot more people who practice floor at the gym, so it’s easier to come up with a strong lineup.”

Arone’s floor score of 9.475 was part of the Owls continued success in that event, as every gymnast for Temple scored over 9 on the floor.

Freshman Gina Tucker also downplayed any lingering mental problems. Tucker believed the team entered Saturday’s meet confident and that things just didn’t go as planned.

“I think everyone just needs to stay positive in the gym and today was just an off day,” Tucker said.

The Owls will now have one final meet in the regular season next Friday at Iowa State before heading to New Haven, Connecticut on March 21 for the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference Championships.

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

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