Anand approaches the vaulting table

Junior gymnast Shruthi Anand approaches the vaulting table during the first rotation of NC State’s gymnastics Red and White Exhibition meet. The preseason meet ended with the white team beating the red team 10-7.

The No. 25 NC State gymnastics team pulled off a comeback win over the Towson Tigers in Reynolds Coliseum on Saturday, Jan. 22. The Pack faltered in places early on, but a stellar performance on beam fueled NC State to a 195.600-195.075 victory to maintain its undefeated record.

Despite icy conditions in the Raleigh area, the Wolfpack faithful showed out to support their team. Consequently, they were rewarded with an exciting meet in the Pack’s home opener.

“We were so excited about fans coming in general,” said junior Alexis Ortega. “Then the snow came; we were freaking out a little bit. To see the turnout even with us peeking out of the curtain before we ran out, it was so exciting. We could not be happier for the turnout today and it's so good to have fans back again.”

One highlight of the meet was the collegiate debut of freshman Macy Jennings. The Apex, North Carolina native did not disappoint, scoring 9.800 on beam in her first-ever college gymnastics event.

“We knew that she's a beamer,” said head coach Kim Landrus. “For her to get out there and do it in her debut, I'm sure really meant a lot to her. I’m just so proud of her as a coach.”

The beam event proved to be the turning point of the meet for the Pack, as it trailed the Tigers at the halfway point. NC State was lackluster on bars, where Towson shined, and a mediocre performance on vault had the Pack down 97.775-97.500 after two events.

Junior Emily Shepard served as a microcosm of the match. After leading the Wolfpack on bars in its season opener at Rutgers, Shepard slipped up on bars for a 9.450. Although her score was not counted in the team total, Shepard’s uncharacteristic blunder came at an inopportune time. NC State was already trailing Towson after a forgettable showing on vault, and it needed every point it could muster to overcome an early deficit against the Tigers.

“Super proud of this team,” Landrus said. “...they were laser focused going into that beam rotation and carried that momentum to the floor. Super proud, collectively as a whole. They just kept building.”

Much to the chagrin of the Tigers, the Pack picked up the pace on beam. Ortega spearheaded the effort with a career-best 9.900 in the event, supplemented by her teammates who stepped up as well. Of the scores that counted towards State’s total score on beam, not one Wolfpack gymnast scored below a 9.800.

“We've been training beam so hard and just trusting ourselves and having fun with it,” Ortega said. “Honestly, it feels so surreal to me. I'm so excited and I'm so happy to share it along with my team.”

NC State closed out the win on floor, where freshman Lauren Rutherford put up a career-best 9.850. Conversely, Towson posted its lowest event score of the afternoon with a 48.450 on beam, icing the victory for the Pack.

The Wolfpack will stay in Raleigh for a quad meet against William & Mary, George Washington and New Hampshire on Saturday, Jan. 28. The meet will be broadcast at 4 p.m. on ACC Network Extra.