Feb. 12, 2011
RALEIGH, N.C. --- 24th-ranked NC State gymnastics defeated William & Mary, but fell to Arizona after a 194.250 showing at Saturday’s Sweetheart Invitational in Reynolds Coliseum.
Arizona won the meet with a 195.550, while William & Mary finished third at 187.575.
Sophomore Rachel Fincham made the biggest splash of the evening with a 9.9 on the uneven bars. The routine marks the best single-event score by any NC State gymnast this season, the highest-scoring bar routine since Brittany Vontz’s 9.9 against LSU in 2009, and a career-high for Fincham.
“Rachel [Fincham] has consistently been one of our top bar workers since she got here, we have very big expectations for her,” said NC State head coach Mark Stevenson. “She struggled a little bit early this season as she came off of her ankle surgery. It’s great to have her back swinging like she did tonight, she looked dynamic.”
Coming off of a season-best vault of 49.000 last week against Iowa, the Pack notched a 48.825 led by freshman Diahanna Ham’s 9.8. The score gave Ham a third place finish, her fifth podium finish of the year on vault.
Junior Brooke Barr and senior Brittney Hardiman added 9.775s. Hardiman’s score matched her season-high, and comes in her first event back after missing the last two meets due to injury.
On beam, the Pack suffered three falls to score a 47.300, opening the door for Arizona to take command of the meet. Barr’s 9.75 represented a bright spot on the rotation, giving her a share of first place.
“For the first time this year, instead of stepping up after a fall, they allowed that fall to weigh on them,” said Stevenson. “If they don’t focus and pick each other up then the team score doesn’t have a shot. If you add what we lost on those falls back to the total, I think we’re winning and have a great score to count for Regionals.”
NC State closed the meet with a 49.125 on the floor exercise, bolstered by 9.85s by Jess Panza, Brooke Barr, and Stephanie Ouellette, which meant a three-way tie for first place. The team’s floor exercise score marks the highest team total on any event in 2011, and the highest since a 49.175 floor routine at the 2010 NCAA Regionals.
“We had a great day on floor today,” said Stevenson. “You could really see Brooke [Barr] stepping back up to the plate. She’s struggled this year, but it’s looking like she’s back up to championship level. Stephanie was four for four today. I think that in 20 routines in competition she’s only had one mistake, and that’s pretty good for a freshman.”
Ham’s 9.825 floor routine set a career-best, Vontz’s 9.725 marked a season-high, Oullette’s 9.85 ties her career-high, and Panza’s 9.85 is her fourth-straight and fifth in six meets this season.
Ouellette finished second in the all-around with a career-best 39.075.
Pack gymnastics hosted its largest crowd of the season for the pink meet with 3,111 in attendance.
Next up for the Pack is a road trip to Los Angeles to take on UCLA and Cal St.-Fullerton on Monday, February 21 at 4 p.m. ET.