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UNH finishes runner-up at EAGL’s, placed in Gainesville Regional

The UNH gymnastics team will once again be a part of the National Collegiate Women’s Gymnastics Championships.

The Wildcats have qualified for the 2017 Championships and will be the No. 4 seed at the Gainesville Regionals on Saturday, April 1. After a strong showing in the Eastern Atlantic Gymnastics League (EAGL) Championships on March 18, the ‘Cats earned their 34th berth into the regionals in the 36 years that the NCAA has sponsored the women’s gymnastics postseason.

UNH finished second in the EAGL Championships over spring break to solidify their spot in the 36-team tournament field. George Washington University won the EAGL Championships with a score of 196.275, while the Wildcats had an overall score of 195.075.

“Unfortunately, the EAGL Championships were judged very tightly,” head coach Gail Goodspeed said. “We dropped from 27th to 30th nationally, but we knew going into the conference championship we were a lock for the NCAA’s because of our season score.”

The Cats’ strong performance was anchored by sophomore Danielle Mulligan’s first-place finish on the uneven bars and senior Meghan Pflieger and junior Casey Lauter tying for first place on the balance beam. Pflieger and Lauter each scored a 9.900 on the balance beam while Mulligan scored a 9.875 on the uneven bars, an event that she has dominated all season.

COURTESY OF ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS UNH reacts to learning it will be in the Gainesville Regional.

Pflieger was also named EAGL Senior Gymnast of the Year after the meet. The senior was named to the All-EAGL First Team on vault, balance beam, floor exercise and all-around. The six head coaches of the participating schools all voted on the award. Pflieger placed third in the all-around results, tying North Carolina State’s Chelsea Knight and North Carolina’s Morgan Lane. Lane, a junior, was named EAGL Gymnast of the Year at the meet.

“There’s so many great gymnasts on all of the teams [in EAGL], so it’s something that all of the coaches vote on and it’s a nice tribute to [Pflieger] that all the EAGL coaches recognized all that she has done as a gymnast and as a person,” Goodspeed said about her senior captain.

Two days after finishing runner-up in the EAGL Championships for the third consecutive season, Goodspeed and her team awaited their postseason fate while watching the selection show.

When it was revealed the Wildcats would be travelling to Gainesville, Florida, for their regional to battle the University of Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Penn State and EAGL-foe North Carolina, the room erupted in excitement.

The competition in Gainesville will be undoubtedly tough, as Florida is ranked No. 3 nationally and Georgia and Missouri are No. 10 and No. 15, respectively. Penn State and North Carolina aren’t far behind the No. 30 Wildcats as well, as Penn State will enter the tournament ranked No. 33, while North Carolina is ranked No. 35.

“It’s exciting, we had been at West Virginia for a couple of years and we thought we may be sent there [again], but it’s exciting we are going to Gainesville for the first time with this group,” Goodspeed said. “It’s definitely a fun place to go for a regional championship.”

With Pflieger leading the charge for the Wildcats, anything is possible for this team entering the Gainesville Regional. The top two teams, as well as the winner for each event and the top-two all-around winners that aren’t on the advancing teams, from the regional will receive automatic berths to the National Championships in St. Louis, Missouri on April 14-15.

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