Gymnasts edged by Tar Heels at GW Invite

Heading into the end of the last season neck-and-neck, the GW gymnastics team finished just ahead of the University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill in the standings, snatching an NCAA tournament bid from the Tarheels. But UNC got some redemption at the GW Invitational Friday, taking first place from the Colonials on their own turf.

GW trailed UNC by less than a point when the two teams headed to their final rotations, the floor for the Colonials and the vault for UNC.

The Colonials turned in first and second-place finishes on the floor from junior co-captains Rachel Mann (9.850) and Lindsey Parks (9.800), but UNC held its lead, scoring a 48.150 on the vault. UNC’s Mikel Hester won the vault (9.725) and Amy Williams placed third (9.650) to lead the Tarheel’s charge.

“They are always neck-and-neck, always by tenths of points,” head coach Margie Foster-Cunningham said of the Tarheels and her Colonials. “It is a friendly and healthy rivalry.”

UNC (192.300) and GW (191.950) finished one and two in the seven-team competition, ahead of third-place Rutgers University (189.100) and fourth-place College of William and Mary (187.150). Rhode Island, Temple and Cornell rounded out the field in fifth, sixth and seventh place, respectively.

Foster-Cunningham said she was pleased with her young team’s performance, as they scored higher than their total against Kentucky last week, a 191.500.

“This was a typical second meet,” she said. “We made some mistakes but we also fixed some things. I’m excited about this, it’s great that we improved so quickly.”

The Colonials and the Tarheels finished one and two in the all around competition as well, with UNC’s Courtney Bumpers’ 38.475 topping Mann’s 38.425 for first place. Rhode Island’s Brooke Hamilton took third with a 38.025 while freshman Heather Kaufman was GW’s other all-arounder, finishing fifth with a 37.575.

GW took first place finishes in three out of four events, with top scores from Mann on the floor, Parks on the beam (9.700) and freshman Tiffany Jones on the uneven bars (9.850). Mann’s floor score and Jones’ bar score were the highest individual scores of the meet. Foster-Cunningham said she was happy with the performance of her freshmen, dubbed the “fab five.”

“They have so much energy, and you can see how much they want to improve,” she said. “I can’t even imagine how good they’ll be four years from now.”

The Colonial gymnasts will travel to Raleigh, N.C. in search of their first win of the season Friday, Jan. 24 when they face the Wolfpack from North Carolina State. The meet is the first of four away meets before the Colonials return home to host James Madison University Feb. 26 at 7 p.m.

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