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GYM: Tar Heels Finish Third at Sweetheart Invitational, Watts Takes 2nd in the All-Around

Posted February 16

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— The North Carolina gymnastics team posted a final score of 193.650 to finish third tonight in NC State’s annual Sweetheart Invitational. Haley Watts placed second in the all-around, ahead of NC State standout and EAGL’s number one ranked all-arounder, Brittni Watkins.

Carolina finished one solid point ahead of William & Mary, but fell just short to George Washington, which earned a 193.750 to place third. EAGL top ranked NC State finished first with a score of 196.050, defeating all three teams by a large margin.

The Tar Heels began the meet on bars with enthusiasm and has some strong individual routines. Freshman Megan Marenghi outdid herself from last week to earn a new personal best of 9.825. Her score would be the highest for the Heels, but Watts followed close behind with a 9.800. Acacia Cosentino posted a solid 9.775, and Sarah Peterson added a 9.750. Unfortunately, the team score was hindered by Lexi Cappalli and Josselyn Mackey, who both suffered uncharacteristic falls.

Carolina performed best this evening on the balance beam. Janell Sargent, who has been the team’s consistent and dependable anchor on beam this season, scored a 9.850 that placed her in a three-way tie for first. Watts, Mackey and Meredith Magjuka all scored a 9.800, while Cappalli redeemed herself to earn a 9.775 and Marenghi scored the same to tie her personal best from last week.
Even though the Heels had scored a 48.100 on bars, almost an entire point lower than last week, they came back strong with six solid routines on beam to end round two in second place with a combined score of 97.125.

“We had six strong routines from each of our athletes [on beam], but Janell Sargent has always been our anchor. And she had a very nice performance tonight,” said Head Coach Derek Galvin. “Balance beam was very encouraging for us, and if we can get bars back up to what it was, we should be okay.”

The Tar Heels next moved on to the floor exercise to kick off round three. They struggled with this event last week, suffering penalties for falls and stepping out of bounds, but made improvement tonight. Senior co-captain Kristin Aloi started for the Heels, making her meet’s debut, and earning a 9.650. Peterson performed second and added a 9.575, as did Cosentino, who competed officially for her first time on floor in two years. Margaret Brown, who has really had to step up recently due to health issues on the team, performed well and scored a 9.500.

“Margaret has been helping us out a lot. She had a good floor routine tonight, and her score would have even been a little higher if she hadn’t stepped out of bounds.” Said Galvin. “With Acacia, it was really exciting to see her compete again [on floor]. She not only stepped up for us on floor, but also did a really great job on bars.”

Cappalli struggled some with her floor routine, falling on her third pass that resulted in a score of 8.950. However, Watts reciprocated, nailing her routine to tie her personal best on floor with a 9.850. The Tar Heels headed into round four with a team score of 145.275.

Carolina took to the vault for its last event of the night. The Heels performed well and totaled a score of 48.375. Watts earned a 9.800 to lead the team and was followed by Peterson who scored a 9.750. Cappalli earned a 9.675, Brown and Aloi each added a 9.575, and Mackey posted a 9.525.

In the all-around, Watts finished second among the ten competitors from all four teams. She combined for a score of 39.250 on the four events, and was just half of a tenth of a point shy from finishing in first and tying her personal best of 39.300. NC State's Brittni Watkins, who is currently ranked first for the all-around in the EAGL with a high score of 39.425, finished third.

“We’ve been trying to put together lineups with the healthiest people. Michelle Ikoma and Christina Pheil are still nursing their injuries, people are sick, and we lost a full day of practice on Thursday due to the storm,” Said Galvin. “If we can just get a few more people healthy and get some solid practice sessions in, we will continue to build, and I think we can do well [next meet].”

The Tar Heels return to action next Friday, Feb. 21 at the University of Maryland. The meet is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

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