Gymnastics: 'Cats overcome adversity on road, capture eighth straight win

By Sam Donnelly
On March 7, 2014

            On Saturday in Washington, D.C., the UNH women's gymnastics team defeated Maryland and George Washington to increase their winning streak to eight meets. Although they posted their highest score of the season at 195.925, they had to fight through some serious adversity on and off the mats.

            The team, who was scheduled to leave from Logan airport of Friday morning, had their flight delayed by three hours because their plane was coming in from Fort Worth. At that time, Fort Worth was experiencing severe freezing rain and let fewer than half of their flights leave the ground. Once the team landed in Washington, D.C., they could only get rooms in the airport Hilton, which was almost an hour outside of the city and The Charles E. Smith Center.

 Unfortunately, the weather followed the team to D.C. where a snowstorm slowed the city down to a halt Saturday morning. The team could not find a bus service that was willing to drive them all into the city. Head coach Gail Goodspeed was beginning to lose patience.

            "It was a lot to handle in a short period of time," Goodspeed said. "We even tried to ride with the Maryland team to get there. It was stressful."

            Finally the team decided to drive themselves. Goodspeed rented two SUV's from the airport rental car agency, and the team slowly made their way through the snow.

            "It was some serious white knuckle driving," Goodspeed said. "We didn't even know if the officials would make it in or if the meet was still on."

            Finally the team arrived at Charles E. Smith Center in Washington, D.C., to find out that the match was in fact on, but the circumstances had changed. The team would be starting on the bars event instead of the vault, the event they prepared for.

            "We weren't prepared to start on bars, but we performed very well," Goodspeed said.

            With all the adversity behind them, the team focused on competing. UNH trailed for only one event, before the team began hitting clean sets and finished 23 out of 24 in total. 

            "The girls came out with an attitude that they really wanted to compete," Goodspeed said. "It was great to watch them come together and execute."

            Megan Pflieger led the team by tying for first place on the balance beam and earned a share of third place on floor exercise, scoring 9.875 in both events. She finished first place for the all around for the fourth time this season.

            "Megan performed great," Goodspeed said. "She brought a lot of energy and really executed well. Being the all around is demanding and she really did well once again."

            Erika Rudiger finished in fourth place on vault, and fifth place on uneven bars, scoring 9.825 on both events. Kayla Gray also picked up the team, scoring 9.850 on balance beam, which was good enough for third place. Erin Machado also contributed by grabbing a share of third place of floor exercise with a score of 9.875. Overall, the team held at least three top-10 spots in each event.

            "The team reaffirmed something they have been doing all year," Goodspeed said. "We can compete through mistakes, adversity, and anything else. I am very proud of them."

            Although the team won this weekend and posted a season high score, Goodspeed still believes this team needs to improve.

            "Like I have said for the past few weeks, we need to focus on the details," Goodspeed said. "We are leaving points off the board by not being as perfect as we can be."

            This win increases the Wildcats record to 10-3 with a 4-2 record in the East Atlantic Gymnastics League. The Wildcats will be back at home Saturday, March 8 to take on George Washington, Bridgeport and nationally-ranked Penn State at 4 p.m. in Lundholm Gymnasium.

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