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Terps start new streak drop Gophers 194.325 - 193.350 in first Big Ten Meet

It was a bad week for Minnesota. First, Terps men's basketball buried the Gophers. Then, the women's team won in Minneapolis. The GymTerps capped off a perfect Maryland over Minnesota week upsetting the 11th ranked Gophers 194.325 - 193.35.


At the start of Thursday's gymnastics meet between the Maryland Terrapins and the Minnesota Golden Gophers, the temperature in College Park was six degrees warmer than it was in Minneapolis. At the end of the night, considerably less than six degrees separated the squads. The Golden Gophers fell behind by over one point on the first rotation. They dug themselves too deep a hole and Maryland toppled their 11th ranked Big Ten foe capturing their first B1G meet 194.325 to 193.350

First Rotation

As they had in their first meet, Maryland opened on the vault - historically one of their strongest events. Maryland coach Brett Nelligan sent the same group of athletes as he used in that first meet. Both Karen Tang and Dominiquea Trotter scored 9.70, getting the Terps off to a strong start. As Nelligan plans, Freshman Abbie Epperson built on that scoring 9.775. Each of Maryland's final three gymnasts, Kathy Tang, Shannon Skochko, and Katy Dodds, scored 9.825. Skochko's was a personal best for the senior from Pennsylvania. The Terrapins finished with a team score of 48.950 just below their total from last week's meet.

While Maryland was competing on the vault, the Gophers were working through the bars. They finished with a team score of 47.750. As the teams switched apparatuses, the Terps held a 1.20 point lead.

Second Rotation

The Terps moved to the bars and Minnesota to the vault for their second rotation. Nelligan made his first lineup change slotting freshman Evelyn Nee in the spot that had been occupied by Skochko. Sarah Faller led off for Maryland and matched her first week 9.65 score. Dodds took a step on her dismount but avoided the fall on her release and managed a respectable 9.625. Nee, however, did not. The freshman managed only a 9.075.

Freshman Abbie Epperson recovered from her opening meet jitters and, though it is early in her career, scored a personal best 9.825. The Tang sisters rounded out the rotation for the Terps. Kathy Tang started off by matching Epperson's mark. Sister Karen outdistanced everyone scoring a near perfect 9.925. "I've wanted to score a 9.9 or better since I got here and to do it in my super senior year was amazing," Tang said afterward. The score was not only a personal best but equaled the best score on the bars in Maryland history.

The Golden Gophers scored 48.875 on their vault rotation, shaving .0025 off Maryland's lead. At the end of two rotations Maryland led 97.800 to 96.625.

Third Rotation

Neeligan's second lineup change, like his first, didn't work out as he must have hoped. Freshman Domniniquea Trotter got off to a sound start but fell in the middle of her routine and managed only a 9.025. Sophomore Nicole Dragon got the Terps back on track with a solid 9.70 matching her score from the first meet. With the theme from Fresh Prince of Bel Air piping through the p.a. system, Faller followed by bettering her opening meet mark with a 9.725 score.

Skochko,who had helped the Terps recover from Faller's fall last week, fell herself this time around and managed only a 9.15, meaning Maryland would need to include at least one relative low beam score in their team total. The falls continued as senior Ebony Walters also fell early in her routine. Salvaging a decent team score would rest on the tiny shoulders of 2013 All-American Stephanie Giameo. The senior was rock solid registering a 9.85 that helped the Terps hang on to a slender 0.25 lead as the teams moved to the final rotation.

Fourth Rotation

Maryland moved to the floor for their final rotation and, for the third time in three rotations, a lineup change by Nelligan failed to materialize as he'd hoped when Dragon, who replaced fellow sophomore Leah Slobodin to open the rotation, stepped out on her second pass and scored a 9.65. The freshman Trotter picked things up for Maryland scoring 9.725 on her routine. Giameo, fighting through her shoulder injury, matched Trotter's score.

Kathy Tang led off the final trio of Terrapin gymnasts for the competition. The Massachusetts junior scored a promising 9.80. As she had done so often last year after struggling on the beam, Walters had an exceptional floor routine scoring 9.875. The Terrapins' final routine of the night belonged to senior Katy Dodds. Dodds matched Walters' score.

With their win tonight, the Terps announced their presence as a team to be reckoned with in the Big Ten. Said Nelligan, "I think this win tells the Big Ten and the country that Maryland is a tough team and we have a tough place to compete and when you come in here you better be ready."

At this moment it is the Terps who need to be ready. They will travel to Penn State a week from Saturday. "We said in the huddle at the end, that we've got to use this as a confidence builder. If we do that, we'll be great," Nelligan said.