By GREG LAUDANI
Meghan Pflieger is rolling.
The reigning East Atlantic Gymastics League Gymnast of the Week, Pflieger has quickly emerged as a standout leader of the UNH gymnastics team in her sophomore season.
Pflieger’s performance on floor exercise and all-around has guided UNH to a quick 4-1 record to start 2015. In the Wildcats’ last meet on Jan. 24, Pflieger earned a share of first place on floor exercise and won the all-around championship to defeat Pittsburgh. She finished with four top-3 finishes, as UNH captured its first win against an EAGL opponent this season.
As proven by her success, Pflieger has found her niche in the floor exercise. The sophomore said the reason why she is so comfortable with the event has nothing to do with the competition itself; It is about the atmosphere surrounding the event.
“It’s exciting to have the whole team dancing with you on the sideline, and the crowd is awesome, especially at home,” Pflieger said. It makes competing easier.”
But before she competes, Pflieger goes through an extensive weekly training routine. This process consists of a blend of hard work and superstition.
The sophomore said she begins each week with two vigorous days of practice. Then as the week progresses, Pflieger said she focuses more on mental training, “zoning in on the rhythm of my routines” and “visualizing my skills in a meet situation.”
The night before each meet, Pflieger studies film of her routines from past meets. But on every day of a meet, that is where you’ll discover Pflieger’s most unique superstition.
“The day of the meet I always wear a necklace with three charms on it,” Pflieger said. “An angel, a horseshoe and a breast cancer charm are on the necklace that my dad and club coach gave given to me in the past couple of years.”
Pflieger also said she watches the same inspirational speech on YouTube before each and every meet. A plate of spaghetti and meatballs is a must for Pflieger before competing.
From a special necklace to spaghetti and meatballs, whatever Pflieger does before meets is working. Her individual accolades speak for themselves. But despite being named EAGL Gymnast of the Week on Jan. 20, Plieger is far from satisfied.
“It’s [winning EAGL Gymnast of the Week] definitely up there in terms of my career achievements,” Pflieger said. “It was a top goal on my goal sheet this year, and I want to work towards getting EAGL Gymnast of the Year.”
She remains as driven as ever to build on her impressive career. Earning EAGL Gymnast of the Year is just one of Pflieger’s personal goals she has her sights on in 2015.
“I want to rank top-36 in the All-Around in the country, EAGL Gymnast of the Year, and to hit 9.9 or higher on at least two events,” Pflieger said. “It would be an incredible honor to be EAGL Gymnast of the Year, so striving for that for the rest of the season is a top priority of mine.”
Pflieger said that defending her team’s EAGL Championship outweighs all her individual aspirations.
“But most importantly, I put our team goals over my personal goals every meet,” Pflieger said. “We obviously are shooting to defend the EAGL title, and be top-36 to make it to Regionals. It would be outstanding for us to beat our 25th team ranking from last year.”
After hoisting the second EAGL Championship in school history last year (2014, 2003), Pflieger said the team has high expectations for itself this season. The sophomore standout said she is confident in UNH’s potential to defend its league crown.
“We have a very goal-oriented and competitive team, so I believe it is a goal we can achieve,” Pflieger said. “I think our trust and confidence in each other carried over to this year, so our expectations are high. To win championships I feel that team energy and a strong bond between your teammates helps with success.”
Pflieger and the Wildcats seek their third straight victory on Saturday, Jan. 31, when they battle Temple University at Lundholm Gymnasium at 7 p.m.