Temple falls at Eagle Invitational

The Owls finished fourth at Eastern Michigan.

The Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference Championships are only a few weeks away for the women’s gymnastics team. Because of this, coach Aaron Murphy threw some new faces into the lineup at the Eagle Invitational.

“[Assistant coach] Deidre [Bertotti] and I are just trying to re-evaluate everyone,” Murphy said. “See how they deal with the pressure of competition and how they score. So that when the time comes, we can create the best lineup we can for ECAC’s.”

Temple finished last out of four teams competing at Eastern Michigan score on Saturday, posting a score of 191.575. Northern Illinois came out on top (195.100), while Eastern Michigan finished as runners-up (194.900). Air Force Academy came in third (193.900).

Highlighting Temple’s day was freshman Brianna Odom, who finished first out of three competitors in the all-around with a score of 38.250.

In terms of team scores, Temple’s best performance came on the vault with a tally of 48.150. Compared to last week, where they scored above a 48 in three events, the vault was the only one where the Owls cracked 48 this time around.

“We were focusing a lot on sticking our landings,” Murphy said. “This past week, we brought the girls in and just worked on what we call ‘stick drills’. So we have them vault off of different positions of the apparatus. Just so if they’re going high or going low, they’re still sticking the landing at all times.”

On the contrary, Temple’s worst team score was on the uneven bars (47.600). Last week, the Owls scored above a 48 in the event for the first time all season. But Murphy wasn’t overly concerned with the big drop between the two weeks.

“This is one of those events if you’re not hitting those handstands or dismounts or not catching those release moves, those are a lot of variables that could go wrong,” Murphy said. “But it didn’t go wrong for the most part, and we’ll take that score.”

One area that did catch his attention was how the judges scored the floor exercise. Murphy was surprised that even when his team hit all of their routines in that particular event, they were only able to post a score of 47.875.

“The scoring was really tight on floor,” Murphy said. “That was something all the coaches talked about after the competition. But as long as the judges score tight for everyone else, it doesn’t really make a big difference. So we were hoping for an extra tenth in each routine there.”

Rounding out Temple’s performance was a 47.950 on the beam. Murphy noted that without an uncharacteristic fall from that team, the Owls would definitely have cracked 48 in that event.

Next up for Temple is conference foe William and Mary. It will be their last meet before the Owls host the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference championships on March 22. Murphy has taken note of where they stand relative to the Tribe.

“We’ve been watching where they are at this point, they’ve been scoring really well,” Murphy said. “They’re probably one of the stronger teams in the conference. So we’re kind of taking that as motivation to go in there and show them what we have.”

Steve Bohnel can be reached at steven.bohnel@temple.edu or on Twitter @SteveSportsGuy1.

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