Gymnastics: Pioneers take second in home triangular

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The TWU Pioneers had one of their most productive meets of the season Sunday in a triangular meet at Kitty Magee Arean, posting season highs on the uneven bars and floor exercise. But their usually strong balance beam was off kilter, which contributed to a second-place performance.

The Pioneers finished with a score of 193.825, finishing behind first-place Southeastern Missouri State (194.300) and ahead of Centenary (190.425).

“It’s disappointing, but also it’s really cool to see how well we did on bars and floor,” TWU senior Amy Winczura said. “Both of those events we’ve struggled with previously this season, so it was really good to do a lot better. On beam, we’ve done a lot better, but overall there were a lot of good things [today]. It’s not where we want to be, but once we put all of our events together in one meet, I think we’re going to be really good.”

Winczura was the Pioneers’ model of consistency on Sunday, as she put up scores at or over 9.700 on the vault, bars and floor.

“Amy had a great day,” TWU head coach Lisa Bowerman said. “She’s been working really hard in the gym on her details. We’re starting to see those come out here in competition. She’s getting more and more confident in her performances. I’m really proud of her as a whole. Being on bars as a starter, she really set the tone and pace with that strong performance that they could build on. She’s got that senior experience, so she’s using.”

Totaling a 48.200 on vault, its first event, TWU had Winczura (9.700) and senior Bethany Larimer (9.775) score at or over the 9.700 threshold, but Southeastern Missouri State had four of its five at or over 9.700 to take the event.

The bars proved to be the Pioneers’ strength as they had all of their gymnasts score over 9.700. Senior Courtney Cochefski and freshman Katie Simpson tied for the top score at 9.825, while Winczura posted a season-high 9.700. The team finished with a season-high 48.900, but finished behind Southeastern Missouri State.

“It felt pretty good,” Winczura said. “There’s obviously still room for improvement. I’m really hard on myself. I always finish my routine and then think about what I can do next. Overall, I was really pleased. It was probably my most consistent meet of the year, so it felt good.”

Then came the beam, where the Pioneers struggled to put together clean performances as their team score 47.750 was bested by both Centenary (48.550) and Southeastern Missouri State (47.850). Senior Ciara Maradiaga (9.800) took first in the event, while senior Brittany Johnson (9.775) was tied for second. However, TWU’s other four participants failed to score better than a 9.550.

“I think we started off very strong on beam [this season] and I think that’s the most frustrating part right now,” Bowerman said. “Starting off that strong and consistent, we should be gaining confidence and gaining on it instead of taking some steps back.”

In the final event, the Pioneers resumed their dominant ways for a meet-high 48.975 in the floor exercise.

The Pioneers again either evened or eclipsed the 9.700 plateau in all the entries, including a meet-high 9.825 by both seniors Margaret Mayfield and Brittany Montalbano.

“Brittany [Montalbano] did a great job,” Bowerman said. “She is competing in two events for us and she’s given us absolutely everything that she has. She keeps getting better and stronger. We’re still working to increase her difficultly on vault and I think she’ll be there soon, so that’s going to be good to have at the end of the season.”

The Pioneers will be back in action again at Kitty Magee Arena at 7 p.m. Saturday against Bowling Green.

“I think we’re in a good place physically,” Bowerman said. “I think our routines are getting stronger and we’re getting cleaner, but obviously the consistency has to be there and we’ve got to have all four events.”

PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873 and via Twitter at @PatrickHayslip.


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