Temple wins 2021 EAGL Championship, sets program record score

The Owls won their third consecutive conference championship and will make their first NCAA Regional Championships appearance as a team since 1992.

Temple women's gymnasts celebrate during the Owls' meet against the University of North Carolina at McGonigle Hall on Feb. 21. | NICK DAVIS / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Temple University women’s gymnastics (4-13-1, 3-10-1 East Atlantic Gymnastics League) won the 2021 East Atlantic Gymnastics League Championship, setting a program record score of 196.500. 

“I’m just proud of the girls,” said head coach Josh Nilson. “They bought into the program, they bought into the plan. First half of [the] season was a little humbling. So, to finish regular season this way, I’m just really proud of them.”

The Owls won back-to-back Eastern College Athletic Conference Championships in the 2019 and 2020 seasons allowing Temple to three-peat in the EAGL in their first season as a member of the conference on Saturday night.

Temple edged out North Carolina State University (12-5, 11-3 East Atlantic), who placed second with a score of 196.050, and Towson University (11-13, 11-12 East Atlantic), who placed third with a score of 195.875. Temple also went up against George Washington University (4-3, 3-2 East Atlantic), University of North Carolina (11-2, 9-2 East Atlantic), University of Pittsburgh (6-10-1, 5-7-1 East Atlantic) and Long Island University (0-12, 0-12 East Atlantic). The University of New Hampshire (9-3, 5-1 East Atlantic) dropped out due to COVID-19 protocols.

“It feels absolutely surreal,” said junior Julianna Roland. “Coming into it as the underdog, it just means so much more. Like, it’s just amazing.”

Temple opened the night on bars and tied its season-best score of 48.925, ranking fourth overall in combined standings. Freshman Cyrena Whalen and junior Ariana Castrence led the team with scores of 9.825 to tie for fourth overall. Junior Nichole Smith recorded the third-best score for the team with a 9.775.

Castrence and Whalen earned All-Tournament first team honors at the event and Smith was named a second team honoree.

The Owls’ second event was beam and they tied a school-record with a combined score of 49.225. Senior Delaney Garin tallied the best score on the team with a 9.875 to place fourth overall. Castrence, freshman Brooke Donabedian and junior Julianna Roland all recorded a 9.850 to tie for fifth overall.

Garin, Donabedian, Roland and Castrence each earned All-Tournament first team honors at the event.

Temple competed on floor for the next event and broke its program record with a score of 49.375. Senior Faith Leary won the event and tied her career-high finish with a score of 9.900. Roland, senior Tori Edwards and senior Jordyn Oster all notched scores of 9.875 to tie for fourth overall.

Leary, Roland, Oster, Edwards and Donabedian each earned All-Tournament first team honors in the event.

“I’ve been really waiting for that nine nine,” Leary said. “I’ve been praying and God’s timing is perfect and then my score helped break the floor record so that was really exciting.”

The Owls ended the night on vault and set a score of 48.975 to win the meet. With this mark, the team met the score needed to qualify for NCAA regionals, which was a 48.025. Roland won the meet and tied a school-record score of 9.900.

Castrence set a score of 9.850 to finish tied for second place and earn All-Tournament first team honors. Sophomore Madison Brooks tallied a score of 9.775 to earn a second-team honor and tie for 12th overall.

Sixteen Temple gymnasts earned All-Tournament selections at the championship meet. With the team’s score of 196.500, they are ranked number 30th in the nation and will make their first NCAA Regional Championships appearance as a team since 1992. Full team selections will be announced on Monday at 5 p.m.

The NCAA Regional Championships will be held at four different sites from April 1 to 3. 

“When I took the job, I told them I had a couple big goals and big plans for the program and this was the biggest goal that I haven’t met yet,” Nilson said. “At the end of the day, I’m not one wearing the leo. It’s my job to position them to win. This is a group effort, I’m surrounded by wonderful people.”

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