By Greg Laudani, Staff Writer
Gymnast Meghan Pflieger concluded her outstanding sophomore season being named East Atlantic Gymnastics League Gymnast of the Year.
Pflieger is the first UNH gymnast to capture the honor since Amanda Hall in 2005.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” Pflieger said. “I never expected it to happen. I think that my focus, drive and competitive attitude I had all year pushed me to reach the top.”
Pflieger claimed the award after her MVP performance at the EAGL Championship meet on March 22. She took first in the all-around competition with a score of 39.250, tied for first in the floor exercise (9.850) and placed second on balance beam (9.900). She was named to the All-Tournament First Team in the all-around, balance beam and floor exercise. Pflieger also added a Second Team nomination on uneven bars.
According to Pflieger, these individual accolades are not all about her. The sophomore was quick to deflect attention toward her teammates while discussing her historic season.
“Our team has been excellent this year in keeping momentum going,” she said. “So when everyone sticks dismounts and hits their set, it creates a domino effect. I’ll watch teammates ahead of me stick sets and I’ll want to do the same. I love the team energy, having everyone come together as one.”
UNH head coach Gail Goodspeed said Pflieger’s attitude and work ethic have helped her become the league’s top gymnast.
“Meghan has had an outstanding year,” Goodspeed said. “She knows how to set goals and works hard to achieve those goals.”
Pflieger said Gymnast of the Year is definitely toward the top of her career goals. She called it an “incredible accolade” that will help define her sophomore year as her “greatest so far.”
But the sophomore said she is not satisfied.
“It makes me want to keep pushing and to keep reaching new heights,” Pflieger said. “I want NCAA Nationals to be in the picture, and also accomplishing our team goals.
“Next year I am determined for us to be conference champions again, so being a team leader and pushing for that goal is my next step.”
Pflieger was also named to the EAGL First Team on vault, floor exercise and all-around while collecting three conference Gymnast of the Week awards this season. She amassed nine wins in the all-around, as well.
She has also matched gymnastics success with classroom success. Earlier this season, Pflieger was named to the EAGL All-Academic Team, pushing UNH’s tally on that list to a league-high total of 15 gymnasts this season.
So with gymnastics and academic excellence, there isn’t a whole lot Pflieger has not excelled at in 2015.
Pflieger said individual and team accomplishments are on a “completely different spectrum.” Although her team did not win the EAGL Championship, Pflieger said she could not be any prouder of her teammates.
“The team comes first,” Pflieger said. “I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them, so falling short by .15 did not change anything. Receiving my award was kind of a reminder to myself of how far our team has come, and that each member has influenced me in a positive way in order to achieve that award.”
Goodspeed said that Pflieger’s leadership has helped drive teammates to be at their best.
“Meghan is a leader who not only works hard herself, but it able to get others on board with whatever needs to be done.”
Pflieger’s Wildcats are ranked No. 25 in the nation, and were selected to compete in the NCAA Championships Morgantown Regional on April 4 at West Virginia University. The Wildcat standout is confident that her team will show some of America’s best teams what they it is made of.
“We’ve been looking great these past couple of weeks,” Pflieger said. We are focusing on details that will help bring us to the top at regionals. We have four big seeds ahead of us, so those details will be key in order for us to compete with the top.”