The Wildcats scored 194.000 points, good for second place, in a quad meet against No. 17 George Washington (195.400), the University of North Carolina (193.750) and William & Mary (193.175). But a lost challenge cost the Wildcats, who finished with a 193.700 score in third place.
“Similar to a challenge in football, where you lose a time out, gymnastics has a video review,” UNH head coach Gail Goodspeed said. “The penalty is a bit more severe; if you lose the challenge it deducts .3 off the final team score.”
Goodpseed and her staff were confident that their review of freshman Danielle Doolin’s floor set would be approved, but the judges held up their original ruling on review, costing the Wildcats their second place finish.
The team began the meet on floor and was sparked by the return of captain Kelsey Aucoin, who missed the last meet with a concussion. The team also got strong performances on floor from Meghan Pflieger and Lia Breeden en route to a strong 48.500 score.
The ‘Cats then moved on to vaulting, where they’ve had trouble all season. The team was forced to count a number of low routines on the apparatus, with sophomore specialist Elizabeth Mahoney’s 9.700 the top UNH score. In total, the team scored 47.650 on vault, the lowest all competing teams.
“This is our major area of concern for the future,” Goodspeed said. “This has been one of our weakest events and we are searching for solutions.”
The Wildcats followed up the vault by moving to beam and bars, its strongest events. UNH recorded scores of 49.000 on bars and 48.850 on beam, which were the top scores by any team on both events.
Freshmen specialist Danielle Mulligan continued to be UNH’s top performer on bars and won the event with a 9.875 score. It is the fourth consecutive meet that the rookie has won, and she was joined by Makenzie Kerouc. The sophomore, in only her second meet of the season, tied for second place on bars with a 9.850.
With its top beam performer, Casey Lauter, out with injury, someone needed to step up for the Wildcats on beam. Fortunately for the Wildcats, the event has been one of the team’s strengths all season.
“Beam continues to be the top event for UNH,” Goodspeed said. “Jessica Gracia stepped in for Casey Lauter and tied for first along with teammate Meghan Pflieger.”
Gracia and Pflieger scored identical 9.825 scores to split the top spot, which marked a career-high for Gracia. Doolin and Breeden split fourth place with 9.775 scores.
Overall, Goodspeed said that the team was disappointed in the third place finish, but the head coach remains optimistic about the team’s remaining meets.
“This should not be of major consequence as we have three more away meets to get a good away meet score for NCAA Regional qualification,” Goodspeed said. She is also hopeful that the team’s injured athletes will soon be back competing in time for the team to make a potential run.
The Wildcats return home for their final home meet of the season on Friday night. The team will square off against the University of Maryland, and will be celebrating senior night and faculty appreciation night when the meet kicks off at 7:30 p.m.