The women’s gymnastics team captured individual high scores in three of four events, but Rutgers proved teamwork triumphs over individual statistics.
The Owls dropped their home opener to the Scarlet Knights, 189.675-186.950, Wednesday.
As a team, the Owls lost three out of four events, but kept the meet close, losing the three events by a combined total of 4.3 points.
Coach Ken Anderson was not pleased with the Owls’ performance on balance beam, which was their lowest-scoring event of the evening.
Assistant coach Aaron Murphy said he wants the team to get better on bars also. He blamed a lack of confidence for the disappointing results.
“I can read their faces; it’s almost like they [were] questioning themselves,” Murphy said. “In practice, I am really going to push them on the bars and see if we can start perfecting this event like we did last season.”
Rutgers coach Chrystal Norton was most impressed with her team’s performance on balance beam.
“Fortunately, all of my gymnasts came through on the beam, because if we had fallen, the score could have gone the other way,” she said.
Norton said balance beam is the most crucial event in gymnastics.
“The balance beam is where you win and lose meets,” she said.
The Owls proved Norton’s belief, as they struggled on the beam. They lost the vault by only 0.4 points, the bars by 1.125, and tied on floor. But Temple lost the beam by 2.775 points, which had an important effect on the final score: Rutgers won the meet by only 2.725 points.
Sophomore Sarah Liebowitz finished with the top overall score on bars and tied for the highest score on floor exercise.
“I hit both of my routines on floor and bars, and I added a new skill on floor,” Liebowitz said.
“Sarah really pulled it together tonight,” Murphy said. “We crossed our fingers, hoping she would hit, and she nailed it.”
Not all was bad on the balance beam. Senior Erin Davis posted a high score of 9.75 on the beam. Anderson said she was “solid as a rock.”
Junior Jennifer Blatt, who had scores of 9.15 on vault and 8.57 on beam, saw some bright spots for the Owls. She said she was pleased with the high level of team spirit, and the 186 points was a season-high for Temple.
“As a whole, our team came together more, compared to the George Washington Invitational,” Blatt said of the Owls’ last meet, in which they finished fifth. “None of us have any voice left from all the screaming.”
Another bright spot for the Owls came on floor exercise.
Murphy called it the best floor performance he’d seen from the Owls in the past three weeks.
The next women’s gymnastics meet is Friday, when they face Ursinus in Collegeville, Pa. The meet was originally scheduled for last Saturday, Jan. 22, but was postponed due to the massive snowfall.
Dan Murphy can be reached at email@example.com.