The last time Temple University women’s gymnastics had three athletes qualify for the NCAA Regional meet was 1997.
More than 20 years later, Temple will send senior captain India Anderson, sophomore Monica Servidio and freshman Ariana Castrence to the NCAA Regionals hosted by the University of Georgia on Friday.
Anderson and Servidio made history by becoming the first Temple gymnasts to individually qualify for the floor exercise and balance beam events, respectively. Castrence will represent Temple in the vault competition.
Anderson will compete against three other specialists in the floor exercise, while Servidio is one of three gymnasts competing in the balance beam event. Castrence will battle five other athletes on vault.
The trio is confident it can perform well enough to advance to the NCAA Championships in Fort Worth, Texas on April 19 and 20, Castrence said. Because Temple isn’t in the team competition, if Anderson, Servidio or Castrence win their events, they’ll advance to compete in Texas.
The Owls’ goal for Friday is to have fun, each gymnast said. Sending three gymnasts to Georgia will simulate enough of a team atmosphere so they can perform better, Anderson said.
“Having all three of us on the floor just jumping around to keep each other’s nerves down will help because it is a big competition…and it can get hectic,” Anderson said.
The three teammates learned they qualified for the competition on March 25, two days after Temple won the Eastern College Athletic Conference championship in Ithaca, New York.
Anderson, Servidio and Castrence earned bids after taking home individual awards from the ECAC championship meet hosted by Cornell University. Servidio won the beam event on March 23 and received ECAC Co-Gymnast of the Year honors, while Anderson won Specialist of the Year. Castrence was recognized as the ECAC’s best freshman by winning the Rookie of the Year award.
Coach Josh Nilson’s coaching style helped Temple have success this season, Servidio said. Nilson personalized workouts for individual athletes, something the Owls didn’t experience in the past. Compared to team workouts, personal workouts make it easier for athletes to stay healthy, Servidio added.
Servidio and other Owls battled injuries toward the end of last season because intense team workouts can take a toll on athletes’ bodies, Servidio said.
This season, Servidio competed as an all-around gymnast in 12 of 13 meets and tied her personal-best 9.9 beam score at the ECAC championships.
“She needed to do those individual assignments to get her to where she is today,” Anderson said. “So I think that was the difference, everyone to individual assignments and caring for each and every single player.”
Castrence didn’t expect to make the NCAA Regionals but believes her consistency helped her have a successful freshman season. She has only scored below 9.6 on the vault once this season and posted a personal-best 9.875 vault score at a meet hosted by Brown University on March 17.
“I just kept on doing what I do,” Castrence said. “Just trying to stay consistent and keeping my body where it should be, and I think that carried throughout the season.”
Nilson and the competing gymnasts expects his young athletes to continue to represent Temple every season from now on.
“Everyone having the same mindset of wanting to win and wanting to be there for each other and having a positive mindset,…that’s real,” Anderson added. “I believe in these girls and this coaching staff to get them there every year.”
Ahead of Friday’s meet, Servidio doesn’t think it is too soon to set goals for next season.
“Next year, we’re all going to go together as a team,” Servidio said.