Gymnastics: Pioneers rally in last rotation to top Bowling Green

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With one event remaining in its dual meet against Bowling Green, TWU was trailing by less than a point with the Falcons yet to compete on the balance beam and the Pioneers with the floor exercise to go.

The Pioneers delivered their best event score of the night and beat Bowling Green 194.250-193.325 on Saturday at Kitty Magee Arena despite not having first-place individual performers in any event.

“I’m pleased with the score in terms of improving upon our last few meets,” TWU coach Lisa Bowerman said. “I think we were good on four events. We weren’t great on anything. It’s definitely great to know that we put four events together, which we haven’t done very well recently, but at the same time we know that every single one of those four events can be so much stronger.”

With the meet on the line, TWU senior Margaret Mayfield said she wasn’t worried about the team’s performance on floor or its ability to pull out the win.

“Floor is absolutely one of our top events, and we shined,” Mayfield said. “I have no doubt going into floor that it’s going to be great.”

Mayfield scored a 9.750, with four of the six Pioneers scoring 9.750 or better.

“I really enjoy floor. I get to bring in the crowd, and that’s my favorite part of gymnastics,” Mayfield said. “I’ve been working on individual skills and putting them into routines. I really enjoy getting to perform, and that floor is a huge performance.”

Senior Brittany Montalbano helped push the TWU floor team to a score of 48.775 with her 9.800, while senior Amy Winczura and junior Spencer Jones each scored 9.775.

Mayfield was consistent in her other two events, where she earned 9.625 in both vault and beam.

“She did a great job, and Margaret has done a great job this whole season,” Bowerman said. “She’s been a very solid competitor for us in three events consistently. The thing about Margaret is she’s always ready to do whatever it is that’s asked of her, and I love that.

“She had some struggles the last couple weeks on beam, but she bounced back today and put together a really solid meet.”

TWU also tied a team high, with its 194.250 matching a Jan. 18 score against Air Force.

The Pioneers opened the meet with a 48.450 on vault, with senior Brittany Johnson earning a 9.725, Winczura tallying a 9.750 and senior Bethany Larimer notching a 9.775.

Senior Courtney Cochefski and Larimer highlighted the Pioneers’ uneven bars performance, with each scoring 9.800 on the way to a team score of 48.675. The Falcons posted a 47.975.

“Their word that I gave them today was ‘will,’” Bowerman said. “They need to will themselves to hit their skills. Things aren’t going to be perfect, but sometimes you have to use that perseverance and that strength to make it happen even when it’s not perfect. I do think they used [will] tonight. There were things that were certainly not perfect, but I think last week we would have fallen, but tonight we didn’t.”

In their third rotation, the Pioneers did have a fall on beam, but they were able to defeat Bowling Green 48.350-47.775. Jones paced TWU with a score of 9.725.

“I’m really impressed with how beam came back after a fall,” Mayfield said. “We started out really great, had a fall there in the middle and brought it back really strong and continued that on to floor. We had fabulous vault and bar performances, and just overall we put everything more together than we’ve seen all season, and that’s something I think we can continue to build on.”

TWU is 5-1 at Kitty Magee Arena this season, and Bowerman said she was proud of how the Pioneers held serve at home after coming in second in a Feb. 23 triangular against Centenary and Southeast Missouri State.

“Another thing that we’ve really talked about a lot is protecting our home,” Bowerman said. “Being 5-0 at home going into last week is a big deal for us. To miss out on that win last week because we didn’t get our job done was really disappointing to everybody.”

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


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