The Wildcats have experienced a rash of injuries in the last couple weeks, and it was never more clear than in Saturday night’s Stick It For The Cure meet against Southern Connecticut State University. But with several gymnasts out, junior standout Meghan Pflieger rose up to lead the ‘Cats to a 194.100-190.425.
“I feel definitely a lot better,” Pflieger, who has been nursing shoulder injuries of her own this season, said. “I took a little bit of a rest this week, just doing quality work.”
Pflieger, usually a fixture in the all-around, has yet to return to bars because of her shoulder injury, but the Barneveld, New York, native dazzled on the three events in which she did compete. Pflieger stuck a 9.850 on the vault, placing second only to teammate Elizabeth Mahoney’s 9.900. On beam and floor, Pflieger again scored 9.850s, which was the top score on beam and tied with freshmen Danielle Doolin on floor.
The Wildcats were without two of their top performers. Kelsey Aucoin sustained a non-gymnastics related concussion during the week, and Casey Lauter is currently working to return from a stress fracture in her leg. The duo are two of UNH’s best on the beam, where the team is ranked No. 2 nationally.
Aucoin and Lauter were missed, as the team completed a 48.575 on beam, noticeably lower than the season average.
“This has been a rough week in terms of some injury things coming in, so we had a couple people that haven’t been in the lineup,” head coach Gail Goodspeed said.
The injuries didn’t stop, either. On the first vault of the night, sophomore Marissa Toci, in one of her first meet’s back from hip surgery, crashed on her vault and needed to be carried off. It was one of several falls on the night for the Wildcats, who always list a team goal as hitting 24 of 24 routines in every meet.
Spurred by high scores on vault from Doolin, Pflieger and Mahoney, the Wildcats bounced back, however. In the next event, the uneven bars, Danielle Mulligan, the reigning Eastern Atlantic Gymnastics League (EAGL) Specialist of the Week hit a 9.85 set to lead the Wildcats to a meet-high 48.675 on the apparatus. The Wildcats did get some relief in the return of Mackenzie Kerouac to the lineup on bars.
“I think our bar team was probably one of the best lineups we’ve had on bars,” Goodspeed said. “They did a great job.”
On beam, freshman Courtney Bondanza stepped up with a 9.750, good for third place behind SCSU’s Kathleen Aberger and Pflieger. But without Aucoin and Lauter, Goodspeed admitted it was probably the weakest lineup the Wildcats have used on bars this season.
In the final event, the floor exercise, Pfleiger and Doolin grabbed the top scores, and freshman Nicole O’Leary was close behind with a 9.800 score that tied with an Owl for third place.
Doolin, the EAGL Rookie of the Week for four straight weeks, was the only competitor in the all-around for both teams. She registered a 38.825.
The Wildcats were also raising money for their Stick It For The Cure cause, and raised 500 dollars for the Seacoast Cancer Center.
“We all just want to come out and do it for the people that we love. My team was all here for me today,” Pflieger said. Pflieger’s club coach recently battled cancer, an event that made this meet special for the junior.
The Wildcats travel on Thursday to Washington, D.C. in preparation for a Friday night meet against No. 17 George Washington, North Carolina and William and Mary.