Brett Nelligan, Maryland's head gymnastics coach, always looks to build a vector of improvement from the Terrapins' first meet to the end of the season. Though they dropped their last meet at Penn State, Maryland registered their best team score - 194.450 - in the season's first three meets. Friday night in Iowa, the Terps outdid that by surpassing the 195 mark for the first time this season but falling just short of the win. They were edged by the Iowa Hawkeyes, 195.775 - 195.275.
First Rotation - Bars
As she has done all season, sophomore Sarah Faller got the Terps started on the bars and matched the 9.725 she registered at Penn State. Senior Katy Dodds followed and scored 9.675. After Dodds, two Terrapins freshmen posted career bests. First, Evelyn Nee who had struggled in her first two competitions, put up a 9.775, far outdistancing anything she had done as a Terp. Abbie Epperson, was nearly perfect picking up a 9.900 for her personal best. The Tang sisters followed and each scored 9.700. The Terps had a team score of 48.800 - slightly off their best score but enough to put them just ahead of Iowa who scored 48.775 starting on the vault.
Second Rotation - Vault
The squads switch apparatuses for the second rotation, so Maryland moved to vault while Iowa went to the bars. Karen Tang remained consistent for Maryland and her 9.700 again got the Terps off to a solid start. Next, it was time for more personal bests from Terps freshmen. First, Dominiquea Trotter posted a 9.800 - her best by one-tenth of a point - and Epperson followed with a 9.850 that equaled her personal best. Kathy Tang matched Trotter's 9.800 and then Shannon Skochko and Katy Dodds put two more 9.850 routines back to back. Maryland's total of 49.150 was their best on the apparatus thus far. Meanwhile, Iowa posted a 48.950 on the bars enabling Maryland to extend their lead to 97.950 - 97.725
Third Rotation - Floor
At home dual meets, Maryland finishes on the floor and this event has, historically been among their best - one they have used to rally from behind to win meets. On the road, where the floor exercise is the Terps' third rotation, they've struggled. Maryland has shown themselves more than capable on the floor exercise scoring a season high 49.100 in their first meet. At Penn State, however, the Terrapins lost four tenths of a point off that score falling all the way to 48.700. The regression continued at Iowa. Both Stephanie Giameo (9.050) and Skochko (9.575) had difficult routines and while Dodds had a solid 9.750 and Ebony Walters an excellent 9.850, these were not enough to prevent Maryland from having their lowest team score of the season on the event at 48.525. Iowa responded with a very strong 49.025 effort on the balance beam and took the lead in the match 146.750 - 146.475.
Final Rotation - Beam
If the Terps have been regressing on the floor exercise, they have not approached the sort of score they will need on the beam if they are to compete at or near the top of the conference. Until Friday night.
The Terps' Twitter called Faller's opening routine "perfect" and questioned her 9.700 score though this was not far off the two 9.725 scores she had received in previous meets. Up next for Maryland, Dani Kram, who had scored a disappointing 9.025 in her first competition of the season at Penn State, came up just shy of her career best with a 9.750. Trotter had a small bobble but managed a strong 9.725 for her second personal best of the night. Nelligan tapped Leah Slobodin to make her first appearance of the year and the Alexandria, Va. sophomore responded with a fabulous routine that scored 9.800 and left teammate Karen Tang in tears, per a Terps tweet.
Carrying the momentum of her 9.725 at Penn State, Skochko put down another solid routine and scored a 9.700 to set up Giameo to anchor the meet. While the Terps were on the verge of compiling their best team score of the season on the bars, the Hawkeyes were faltering a bit on the floor but not quite enough to allow Maryland to overtake them. Though Giameo put together a 9.825 routine, to give Maryland a 48.800 - their best score of the season on beam by nearly a full point - Iowa's 48.975 on the floor was enough for the Hawkeyes to hold on and edge the Terps by half a point.
The Terps will get a chance to compete at home on Saturday, February 7. They will host the very consistent and fourth-ranked Michigan Wolverines at 7 pm on the main floor at the Xfinity Center.