The NC State gymnastics team made the trip to University Park, Pennsylvania to take on Penn State, Cornell, and fellow EAGL member Towson. Despite being in contention for most of Saturday afternoon, NC State fell just short of finishing first, settling for second to a Penn State team who edged it out 196.575-195.850.
The day started on the uneven bars and in one of the weirdest coincidences that could happen in gymnastics, five of the six NC State gymnasts scored a 9.825, starting with EAGL Rookie of the Week Emily Shepard and ending with senior Melissa Brooker, who tied her season high on the bars. Five of the top seven scores on the uneven bars belonged to the Wolfpack, and despite being behind Penn State 49.150-49.125, the Wolfpack was in prime position to take the lead.
Next up was the balance beam, and a few key performances allowed the Wolfpack to retain the lead after two rotations. Freshman Chloe Negrete tied her career high on the beam with a 9.925, a quad-meet best. Also performing very well was junior Lauren Kent, whose 9.875 was a career best and placed her in a tie for third. Junior Kacey Nelson also had the best beam performance of her career, getting a 9.850 and a tie for fifth. After two rotations, the Pack had taken the lead from the Nittany Lions.
The battle between Penn State and NC State reached its apex on the floor exercise rotation, with the top 11 individual scores shared between the two schools. EAGL Gymnast of the Week senior Drew Grantham scored a 9.900 on her floor routine, her fifth score of 9.900 or higher in the last five meets. Senior Alexis Beucler also wowed the judges with her floor routine, earning a 9.850 and a tie for third.
NC State was enjoying a lead going into the vault, and then slowly watched that lead evaporate with strong performances from Penn State, performances that NC State ultimately couldn’t match. The Pack scored a 48.400 as a team, easily its worst cumulative score of the meet. Shepard’s 9.800 was the lone bright spot for the Wolfpack, the fifth-highest individual score for the day. Shepard would finish with a well-deserved 39.150 all-around score, but her efforts were in vain as Penn State grabbed the top three highest scores on the vault and a win in front of its home fans.
The Wolfpack will be returning home for the final time this season to face Minnesota. Its meet will be at Reynolds Coliseum on Saturday, March 7th at 4 pm.