The three Wildcat seniors shined their brightest in the final home meet of the season in Lundholm Gymnasium on Sunday.
The UNH gymnastics team extended their streak of defeated opponents in Durham to 28 after defeating both Brown University and Yale University 196.025-193.175. Brown and Yale tied for second place with the score of 193.175 and were unable to keep pace with the all-around performance by the Wildcats.
It was the final home meet for seniors Meghan Pflieger, Jessica Gracia and Jennifer King on Sunday and they each excelled while leading their team to a 7-0 home record this season. Gracia and King only participated in the uneven bars but both came away with a rousing score of 9.850 to share the meet-high. The score was a new career-high for Gracia and tied King’s previous career mark as they ensured they left Lundholm for the final time smiling.
What head coach Gail Goodspeed loves even more about these seniors is the determination they bring day in and day out.
“They brought to this team a competitive drive that’s unbelievable. They want to win,” Goodspeed said. “It’s great that all three contributed and that all three had a great senior meet makes it even better.”
Pflieger had another terrific showing as she finished with an all-around score of 39.300, just 0.075 below her career-high. The senior rounded out her final home meet with excellent performances on both the balance beam and floor exercise that resulted in the same score of 9.875, both meet-highs. Making Pflieger’s senior night performance even more special was that it was uncertain whether she would be able to perform heading into the meet.
“[Pflieger] very seriously had an intestinal virus last night and was sick. We weren’t even sure she was going to compete,” Goodspeed said after the meet. “To score a 39.300, which is one of her top all-arounds, as well as lead the team. She tried not to warm up very much because she didn’t have the energy so Gatorade and crackers got her through.”
Sophomore Danielle Doolin also put together a productive all-around performance as she finished with a 9.800 or higher on the vault, bars and floor exercise and finished with a score of 39.200. The Wildcats consistently hit on five of their six routines at each event, the final score takes the top-five scores, and had the top-scorer in each event as they undoubtedly outperformed Brown and Yale en route to the team score of 196.025.
With the whole team performing at a high-level, Goodspeed has to make some difficult decisions when it comes to who will compete.
“The hardest part is in practice deciding who the lineup is because we have, on each event, two or three other people who could be in the lineup,” Goodspeed said.
Having options for each event is a good problem to have and the depth of this UNH team is evident in their scores. However, the team’s success throughout this season can’t be noted without recognizing the leadership and grit that Pflieger, King and Gracia infuse this UNH Wildcats team with.
“They bring out the best in their teammates in everything they do. They inspire everyone else to do their best. They don’t sit back and wait for someone else to do the job. They do it and then they push other people to be their best,” Goodspeed said.
Up next for the ‘Cats, they will travel to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to take on the No. 2 ranked Louisiana State University (LSU) Tigers on Friday, March 10 at 8:30 p.m. LSU boasts multiple Olympian athletes and will be very tough to knock off on Friday.
“They knew we are a good team to provide them a good competition so they invited us to come [for their senior meet],” Goodspeed said. “It will be interesting because we have to stay in our own bubble. Their crowd is a heckling crowd so we have to stay in our own bubble and ignore the crowd.”