Temple Gymnastics rebounding after rough start

Temple Gymnastics started the season 1-5 but has built significant momentum heading into their biggest meet of the young season.

After a 1-4 start to the season, Temple Gymnastics managed to achieve momentum with four-straight victories in three weeks. | ROBERT JOSEPH CRUZ / THE TEMPLE NEWS

After head coach Josh Nilson described the 2022 season as an “up-and-down season with a lot of highlights,” Temple Gymnastics entered the 2023 season last month looking to capitalize off the momentum of their third-place finish in the East Athletic Gymnastics League Conference Championships.

After a 1-4 start to the season, they’ve managed to achieve that momentum. The team secured four-straight victories within the last three weeks, including a win against EAGL-rival Long Island during the Green Meet at McGonigle Hall on Jan. 20. 

The team started the season with the goal of qualifying for regionals. Last year’s 17-12 (2-4 EAGL) finish saw graduate Julianna Roland and junior Brooke Donabedian compete in the NCAA Tournament Regionals. Roland is seeking more for her team this season, pushing her teammates to compete for the top spot in the conference and beyond.

“I think my personal goal is to contribute in every way that I can for the team to go to regionals,” Roland said. “I think that coming from last year, we already have such a big group of girls that bring so much strength to the team. I think that them just being here is going to help tremendously.” 

In Temple’s first two meets, the Owls faced quality opponents, including one in EAGL rival, Pittsburgh. At the Keystone Classic on Jan. 6, Temple placed third with 194.225 total points, finishing behind Pitt (195.950 points) and Penn State (195.475), but ahead of Penn (193.525). 

On Jan. 15, the Owls traveled to face New Hampshire and Central Michigan in the New Hampshire Meet, where they fell to both teams 194.475-193,200 and 194.100-193.200 respectively.

These two meets served as a learning experience for a Temple team that includes eight freshmen. However, Nilson believes tough losses like these must happen so the team can continue to grow.

“It makes you more patient,” Nilson said.

That patience preached by Nilson paid off five days after the New Hampshire Meet. At the Owls’ first home meet of the season, they scored 193.650 points, outscoring LIU (192.875), Cornell (191.450) and Bridgeport (191.225). 

Two weeks later, Temple beat Yale 194.950-193.600 in New Haven, Connecticut, to bring its record above .500 for the first time this season. During the meet in New Haven, Temple scored their highest point total of the season due in part to their season-highs in the vault and floor. Six of the Owls’ 13 event wins this season were secured at that meet

The Owls had several key contributors for each event throughout the run, including Roland and Donabedian, who have a combined three event wins. 

Sophomores Sarah and Hannah Stallings won five events combined, with Sarah winning on the bars at Pitt, New Hampshire and Yale. Hannah won the beam event of the Green Meet and all-around at New Hampshire. 

Despite being in her first season at the collegiate level, freshman Ashley Glynn is tied for the most event wins on the team, earning two victories on the vault and one on the bars. 

While the first two meets were challenging, the most recent have been a reminder to the team to maintain their confidence.

“We’ve grown so much as a program,” said senior Madison Brooks. “We’ve won conference championships, broken records, and made our goals bigger and bigger. But we haven’t gotten to our full potential yet.”

As Temple’s season continues, they look to build off the last two meets and try to move up the EAGL standings. 

With this newfound momentum and balanced attack, they defeated No. 23 North Carolina State 195.300-194.775 and No. 36 Pitt 195.300-195.275 despite falling to No. 30 Towson 196.375-195.300 at the Towson Meet on Feb. 10. This second-place finish capitalized on a lot of the energy around the team, and they look to continue that momentum entering the George Washington Meet Feb. 17 against North Carolina, Yale, and George Washington.

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