The women’s gymnastics team regularly counts the balance beam event as a team strength, but on Saturday it was the team’s downfall.
GW faced off against East Atlantic Gymnastics League rival Pittsburgh at the Smith Center. The Panthers defeated the Colonials 194.750 to 192.500, leaving GW winless in dual meets this season.
Despite the close score and exciting displays from both teams – including three career-highs for three Colonials – GW’s performance on the beam was perplexing to its head coach. The Colonials scored a season-low 46.625 – ground they were unable to make up in other events.
“Beam was our nemesis today,” head coach Margie Foster-Cunningham said. “It was a real struggle for us to get some consistency there, and normally that’s a good event for us. We can’t let that happen to us because it is one of our best events.”
The Colonials faced no such difficulty on floor exercises where junior Stephanie Stoicovy tied for first with a personal-best score of a 9.925. Junior Nefertiti Roy and sophomore Taylor Henderson also earned career-highs, Roy scoring 9.775 for third in the floor exercise, and Henderson scoring 9.725 on the uneven bars.
Stoicovy placed second overall at the meet with a score of 38.375, a career-high score for the junior and less than one point out of first place.
“I have a lot of fun doing floor, and my teammates support me a lot. I have a lot of confidence in that event,” Stoicovy said. “As a team, we need to put our hard hats on for all four events. We are going to get into the gym this week and work hard on the beam.”
Other Colonials stepped up with strong performances in various events, including freshman Courtney Willoughby and sophomore Betsy Zander, who both earned season-highs on the uneven bars with tying scores of 9.700. Senior Amanda Murphy also earned a personal season-high with a 9.800 on vault.
Boosted by her team’s skill in three events, Foster-Cunningham stressed the importance of practice to help her team improve for their next meet.
“Absolutely in three events we were good. We can’t let that happen to us when the beam is one of our best events,” Foster-Cunningham said “We nail those routines time and time again in practice, so now we need to execute them at our meets.”
For GW to compete successfully, the team seeks to earn a total team score of at least 194 on the day, a goal Foster-Cunningham said should be reachable with focus in practice.
The Colonials will host Yale Thursday, which gives the team a short window to fine-tune their balance beam routines, but Foster-Cunningham remains confident in her team’s ability to bounce back.
“We really think that we are going to be at 194 on Thursday. The girls have already bounced back, and they are not holding on to the negative,” Foster-Cunningham said. “The thing is that we need to be in the 194s. So yeah, lost points in the beam are critical.”