by David F.P.
(I may add individual reports later, but thought I’d post an overview.)
It’s a cold afternoon in Durham, New Hampshire. The newly dropped snow blankets the campus. Its beauty is unfortunately somewhat mediated by the wind and chill in the air. Denver, sitting on the outside of the top ten rankings by ever so slightly a margin, travels nearly to the edge of the country to find the snow and cold they’ve been faced with back in Colorado. Fortunately gymnastics meets are not held outdoors. For UNH, there have been injuries, some falls here and there, and talented rookies learning quickly but occasionally struggling. Expectations are high for both teams, as both have a lot to gain today.
The crowd begins to fill into Lundholm Gymnasium during warm-ups, a crowd that would continue to grow and grow. Wild. E Cat, UNH’s giant wildcat mascot arrives as well. The teams return to their waiting areas, and the crowd is called to attention. Denver is introduced and the visitors run in, to a warm greeting from the crowd. The lights go off, and spotlights fill the arena as one by one UNH’s gymnasts are announced. The gymnasts run out and salute, and as the line gets longer, each gymnast slaps hands with their comrades before returning to their place in the line. The introductions wrap up and the lights come on. The crowd continues to fill in even as the meet begins.
The meet was arranged to alternate between gymnasts in the first two rotations before slipping into traditional simultaneous competition. UNH was on Vault first, with Denver on the Bars.
For Denver their first routine would have a fall. UNH started off solidly, but would have to contend with two falls on vault in a row. Denver posted good scores on the next two routines, but faced their second fall as well. Both teams would wrap up their events with solid scores, with Denver’s bar ace Jessica Lopez putting up a 9.825. UNH’s Justine Turner, who had spent some time out of the lineup with an injury, vaulted her way to a 9.825. With this the first ceremonial t-shirt was flung into the crowd in honor of a score of 9.8 or above. Wild E. Cat tossed it into the bleachers as those in attendance tried to make the most noise. I should note that the crowd clapped for all the gymnasts and was very supportive of the two teams throughout the day.
The switch was on and UNH headed to the Bars, with Denver headed to the Vault. For UNH, Beth Bronson would start out the rotation. She then capped off a solid routine with her trademarked dismount wowing the crowd, many of whom did not see it coming as chorus of “ohhhs” emerged from the faithful. This would set off a string of five 9.7 or above scores in a row on Bars, including Diane Grey’s personal best of a 9.8. With that another t-shirt was flung into the crowd by Mr. Cat . The low score of the rotation came on a sit during the dismount of the last routine. On Vault, Denver started it off with a 9.725 and kept the scores rising until Casey Dobyns, an NCAA Nationals Qualifier in that event, stuck a 9.9.
On the Beam, I believe UNH had two falls based on the score, but due to the simultaneous nature of the routines I must have missed seeing them. However, three of their scores were 9.875, 9.875, and 9.9 thanks to the efforts of Beth Bronson, Jaime deMello and Taryn LaFountain respectively. LaFountain, in her freshman year has emerged as a Beam ace so far. Three more t-shirts were launched into the crowd in honor of the feats. Over on the Floor, Denver put together five routines at 9.8 or above including Gretchen Goerlitz’s 9.9 and Sasha Sullivan’s 9.925.
The final rotation naturally had UNH on Floor, and Denver on Beam. Denver started off solidly hitting 3 9.8 or above scores in a row. A balance check and a step on the dismount lead to a lower score in their fourth routine. However Heather Huffaker than scored a 9.9. The final routine had a fall, but all in all, four 9.8’s and above came Denver’s way. Over on the FX, the first routine had some stumbles it seems. The second routine had a fall on a tumbling pass. Heather Moore, who also sat out part of the season I believe, hit a 9.8, and was followed with three more solid routines, though one had a stumble as far as I can tell. The last routine, Fairen Plummer netted the Wildcats a 9.825. With that a pair of t-shirts went flying yet again into the crowd. If anyone forgot their shirts in the cold weather, the UNH meet was the place to be to resolve that predicament!
With the meet over, the scores were tabulated and the crowd waited until it came through…UNH 194.15, their best score of the season, and Denver 195.65! A good meet for both teams most assuredly, but also a meet with some stumbles, some falls, and the lingering question. What will the scores look like if either team hits all their routines at once?