WILLIAMSBURG, 25 January - It was supposed to be different. After a slow start at the George Washington Invitational, recent history suggested William and Mary women’s gymnastics could strongly improve their scores at their home opener versus the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The past three years, the Tribe has increased its overall score by a remarkable 3.98 between its opener and second meet, and traditionally the team jells and becomes more comfortable with their routines after shaking off the nerves of the first competition. Such a trend met a crashing halt as the Tribe scored a meager 186.925 in their loss to UNC (191.950), a decrease of 0.225 from last week’s tally.
“It was a very rough meet. I didn’t expect this at all,” a shocked Mary Lewis, Head Coach of Tribe Women’s Gymnastics, said. “The girls have looked really good in practice, and I expected to see a performance that looked how we’d been practicing.”
Coach Lewis singled out the bars, second in rotation for the Tribe, as the start of problems.
“On bars it just kind of seemed like a domino effect, one person had a problem and it was like a little disease that just became very contagious. If somebody had watched us all week long, it’s not at all what you thought would’ve happened. We had a lot of mental errors and we have to pull it together up in the head as well as with the body.”
Despite the squad’s struggles, Coach Lewis remained upbeat.
“There were some bright spots, so I have to be happy about that. We hit a high score on vault with Kristen Gaidish, a freshman, so she really came through, and she came through again on beam this week.”
Miss Gaidish hit a 9.775 on her vault attempt, earning third place, and 9.525 on the beam. Her vault score ties for seventh place in Tribe history. Miss Gaidish, however, was surprised with her marks.
“I was kind of hurt this week,” said Miss Gaidish. “My back had been injured so I wasn’t really expecting much, but the last two days I worked out really hard and felt really good in practice. Today I just went out and warmed up and it felt good and I hit in the meet.” In doing so, Miss Gaidish shattered her previous best effort on the vault, 9.450.
While the uneven bars proved disastrous for the team, senior co-captain Amy Van Deusen defied the trend by snaring first place in the event for the Tribe with a brilliant 9.750.
“It’s a bar routine I’ve been preparing really well,” Miss Van Deusen said. “I’m pretty comfortable with it, and I knew that we needed someone to hit [...] so I did the best I could and thought about one skill at a time.”
Junior Suzanne Chaves, the Tribe’s only all-around competitor, also excelled. Chaves notched third place for the Tribe on the beam with a 9.675, and her cumulative score (37.925) placed her third in the all-around totals. Like last week at the George Washington Invitational, the Tribe never quit despite early difficulties.
The Tribe rebounded nicely in their final event, the floor exercise, with five of their six scores above 9.500. Led by a trio of 9.625’s by Erin Skinner, senior; Jamie Weinfeldt, junior; and Emma Cross, sophomore, the floor exercise proved to be the Tribe’s highest scoring event.
The meet marked the second time the Tribe has faced UNC in as many meets, and the two foes barely get a chance to catch their breath before the Tribe travels to Chapel Hill Friday, 31 January to square off against them again.
“We’ll go back into the gym on Monday and kind of start from scratch a little and see what we can do to improve things,” Coach Lewis said, as the Tribe prepares for a case of déjÃ vu.