NC State gymnastics earned its highest score of the year in its quad-meet on Friday, buoyed by a season-high score on the uneven parallel bars. While the Wolfpack scored enough to best George Washington and William & Mary, it couldn’t grab the top spot in the meet, which went to the Oklahoma Sooners.
NC State started off the quad-meet on the vault and continued its dominance in the event. Despite a few shaky landings on the first few attempts, the Wolfpack earned a combined 48.950, which was enough to lead all four teams after the first rotation. Freshman Madison Benson was the biggest surprise for NC State on the vault; the newcomer showed poise beyond her years en route to a stellar 9.800 score. Sophomore Emily Shepard earned the highest score of the night on the vault, leaping to a 9.900 and a career high. On the floor exercise, however, Oklahoma jumped ahead, turning in a 49.325 of its own.
“Technique was important today,” Benson said. “Just focusing on the little details like the landing and working on my confidence.”
The Pack followed that up with its best performance on the uneven parallel bars this season, and somehow outdid its first rotation with a 49.125. Shepard and senior Katie Cox anchored the Wolfpack with scores of 9.875, but despite how well the Pack did on the bars, the Sooners kept the lead after the second rotation behind a gaudy 49.350 of their own on vault.
NC State continued to do well in the third rotation, but not well enough to overtake Oklahoma. The Pack’s 48.850 on the beam would have been solid on some nights, but with the Sooners turning in a 49.250 on the bars, it continued to trail after three rotations. Sophomore Chloe Negrete kept NC State in the running going into the fourth rotation with a 9.800.
“I think it’s really important that we do our gymnastics,” said head coach Kim Landrus. “We need to make sure that we focus on our team, our routines, building throughout the meet and improving on ourselves.”
As it has done all season, the Wolfpack made a big push for the lead with its floor routine. Senior Nicole Webb’s 9.850 kept NC State competitive, and not to be outdone, Shepard continued her great afternoon by scoring a 9.900. NC State churned out a 49.200, making the floor exercise its best score of the evening, but today was clearly Oklahoma’s day, and after earning another 49-point-plus rotation, it edged out NC State to win the meet.
NC State will meet William & Mary once again, as well as familiar foe Temple, in its next tri-meet, set for Saturday, Feb. 27. The meet will start at 4 p.m. and will take place at Reynolds Coliseum.
“There’s an exciting pressure at Reynolds,” Landrus said. “There’s an excitement in competing and building momentum throughout the entire competition. We’re all in this together.”