Women’s gymnastics has ‘a lot to prove’ after 2017 season

Temple hopes to be one of 36 NCAA tournament qualifiers.

Freshman all-around Tori Edwards prepares to do a back handspring on the balance beam during practice on Saturday at Pearson Hall. | SYDNEY SCHAEFER / THE TEMPLE NEWS
Freshman all-around Tori Edwards prepares to do a back handspring on the balance beam during practice on Saturday at Pearson Hall. | SYDNEY SCHAEFER / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Before heading off to the Little Boston Invitational on Jan. 6 to open its season, Temple held one final intrasquad meet on Dec. 22.

Both gymnasts’ families and judges attended the meet to replicate the atmosphere of a regular-season competition.

“The team came out excited for the meet, really wanting to see how they’d perform in front of judges for the first time of the season,” coach Umme Salim-Beasley said. “We had a great day, and it just showed us what I already knew. They performed the way I knew they could, and we’re ready for a great season ahead of us.”

At the end of the season, 36 teams will be picked to compete in the NCAA tournament based on their regional qualifying scores. Salim-Beasley wants Temple to be one of those teams.

Temple entered its second meet of the season, Sunday’s Gold Out tri-meet against the College of William & Mary and Towson University, ranked No. 13 by the National Association of Collegiate Gymnastics Coaches/Women. The ranking is the Owls’ highest in program history.

Temple (4-1) scored an overall team score of 191.575 to beat William & Mary, but Towson won the meet with a score of 194.725.

After the Gold Out, Temple’s average team score is 193.225, which ranks outside of the top 25.

To start the season, Temple broke its season-opening score record at the Little Boston Invitational against the University of New Hampshire, Towson and the University of Maryland. Temple beat New Hampshire for the first time in team history and beat Maryland for the first time since 1995.

Temple scored a 194.875 to break the record it set last season against Penn State, Bowling Green State University and Brigham Young University.

The score of 194.875 would have been the Owls’ third-highest score in all of last season. Temple had a record-breaking 2017 campaign, setting the top 10 highest team scores in program history.

Sophomore all-around Jaylene Everett posted personal career-high scores in both the vault and the floor exercise at the Little Boston Invitational. She scored a 9.8 on the floor exercise and a 9.825 in the vault.

“They were focused from start to finish and did a great job of hitting their routines to the best of their ability,” Salim-Beasley said. “Although we saw some areas where we can improve, each of them did a fantastic job. The energy only continued to build from the first routine to the last. We made sure to maintain the team’s mindset of completing the meet to its full potential in order to see it through.”

The strength of the underclassmen has Salim-Beasley hopeful for an NCAA bid. Last season, sophomore all-around Daisy Todd was the only Owl to compete at the NCAA Regionals, where she finished tied for 24th out of 42 competitors on the bar.

The addition of eight freshmen, in what Salim-Beasley has called her most talented recruiting class, has made an immediate impact. Six of the eight debuted at the Little Boston Invitational.

Freshman all-around Tori Edwards placed second overall in the floor exercise, and Madison Rennix tied for ninth on the floor exercise.

Edwards followed her floor performance at the Little Boston meet with a 9.8 against Towson and William & Mary to place second on the team. Freshman all-around Monica Servidio and Edwards tied for fifth on vault. Freshman all-around Jordyn Oster’s 9.725 balance beam score placed fifth overall.

“We were a little uneasy to start, but now we are getting fit in with the team and getting comfortable,” Edwards said. “We have a lot to prove this year as a team, and I think we’re going to.”

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