Alexis Zafferes’ preseason goal has been reached.
Earlier this season, Zafferes said the women’s gymnastics team’s goal was to achieve a score of 190 at a meet this season. On Saturday, the Owls won at Cornell with a score of 190.9 to 189.9. The Owls won three out of four events against the Big Red, en route to their highest point total of the season.
Assistant coach Aaron Murphy was amazed the Owls accomplished such a high score, considering where they were competing. Performances are judged at different degrees of difficulty depending on what region of the country the meet is being held.
Saturday’s meet in Ithaca, N.Y., was in the Northern Region.
“Judging is much tougher in the north,” Murphy said. “Everything would have to be perfect, and it was.”
Junior co-captain Lindsey Stern believes the team performs better when the judging is tougher.
“When we are not going to get high scores, we hit our routines better,” Stern said.
Spring break played a significant role in the meet. Murphy said the break gave the gymnasts more time to practice by themselves. Normally, the men’s and women’s teams share the gym.
The downside was that only 16 of the team’s 24 members were available for practice and travel with the team. Due to a small budget, the coaches were unable to send the entire team to the meet.
“When the whole team cannot travel, we miss [those not present],” Zafferes said. “But a smaller team does not hold us back from competing well.”
The Owls’ best scores came on balance beam and vault, and junior Deirdre Mattocks’ performance on bars helped as well.
Mattocks injured her tailbone in practice after losing her handle on uneven bars and landing on her back. The coaching staff decided to put Mattocks in Saturday’s lineup anyway, and Mattocks did not disappoint.
She competed on bars and floor exercise, achieving the Owls’ top score on bars. Mattocks said there were no alterations to her routine because of the injury.
Along with Stern, who scored a 9.725, senior Erin Davis led the Owls on balance beam with a 9.775. The Owls’ highest-scoring event was beam, and the pair’s performances were “big confidence boosters for the beam squad,” Murphy said.
Stern and Zafferes were all-around competitors on Saturday, meaning they competed in all four events. At Temple, all-around gymnasts are very rare, Zafferes said, but the coaches’ decision to start them in each event was needed because of injury.
“So many girls are hurt and [Lindsey and I] are both capable of doing all four events,” Zafferes said. “[Competing in the all-around] is subject to change once the injuries lessen.”
The Owls’ next meet is Saturday, when they travel to State College, Pa., to battle Penn State.
As for future goals, Zafferes said the Owls need to “rock” at the upcoming ECAC Championships, and keep their scores as high as possible in their remaining meets.
Dan Murphy can be reached at email@example.com.