May 2, 2003
Youth fuels the desire to learn, the desire to reach new heights. The incoming freshman class brought these aspirations to Maryland gymnastics in 2003, helping the team earn a fourth-place finish at the 2003 NCAA Southeast Regionals. Finishing the year with a No. 31 ranking, the Terps finished tied for fourth place at the EAGL (East Atlantic Gymnastics League) Championships, with freshman Rachel Martinez winning the all-around crown.
The Terps entered 2003 with a No. 25 preseason ranking, credit to the highly celebrated recruiting class comprised of Martinez, Kristi Skowronski, Alexandria Gatch, Cameron Logan, Rebecca Ruppert and Ginny Scott. In the spirit of a true Terrapin, Maryland was slow coming out of the gates, only to cap off the season with wins over nationally top-ranked programs.
The Terps kicked off their season at the Bahamas Breeze Invitational in Nassau, Bahamas against Louisiana State, Illinois and EAGL foe Towson. Maryland won against Illinois and Towson, but dropped to LSU. The squad posted a 190.450 at their first meet of the season; the mark was the lowest of 2003 as the Terps continued to improve meet after meet.
The team's January performance was highlighted by a 193.450-190.525 win over Temple, the first home meet ever at the Comcast Center, the new home of Maryland gymnastics. Top performances were delivered by junior Sarah Hoenig and freshman Martinez, both of whom notched a 9.90 on the beam. Martinez would also hit a 9.90 on the floor at the Temple meet. For the freshman, the Temple meet was her debut as an all-around competitor and her rite of passage into 9.90 territory. Martinez won the all-around against Temple with a score of 39.125, the first of her season-high six first-place finishes.
The Terps faced a tough February, falling to the eventual 2003 NCAA Southeast Regional Champions, the Georgia Bulldogs, in Athens, and against EAGL opponents NC State, North Carolina and Towson at the Seventh Annual Governor's Cup, held in Raleigh. Gatch came in second on the beam at the Governor's Cup with a 9.85.
Heading into their second home meet against West Virginia with a record of 3-7, the Terps were determined to turn their season around. Posting a 193.775-192.975 win over the Mountaineers was a boost for Maryland. The Terps gained control of the meet on the second event, the uneven parallel bars. Bars specialists Mandy Pascual and Leah Brill posted a 9.900 and a 9.825, respectively. Brill, the 2002 EAGL Rookie of the Year, tied her career high in the event.
Maryland won its quad meet on Feb. 22, defeating conference rival Towson and non-league foes, James Madison and Texas Women's University. The Terps took first place with a score of 195.825, Towson came in second with a 195.400, James Madison came in third with a 190.600 and Texas Women's University finished fourth with a 190.225.With the win, the Terps climbed back to .500 with a 7-7 record.
At the meet, Martinez tied for first in the all-around with a score of 39.525. The mark tied Martinez with former All-American Gillian Cote for No. 2 on the Terps' scoring list. For her top finish, Martinez was Named EAGL Gymnast of the Week, an honor she would receive again before the end of 2003. The Terps' best event on the night was the bars. Compiling a team total of 49.275, which tied the team for its second highest all-time bars score, Maryland posted five marks of a 9.8 or better. Pascual outshined her own performance against West Virginia (9.9) with a score of 9.925 to lead all scores. Pascual's 9.925 tied her for first place in Maryland's all-time record book.
The Terps dropped the first of their three meetings with George Washington, 193.950-193.025, on March 1. Even in the loss, Maryland notched impressive individual performances. Junior co-captain Katherine Schroeder recorded a new career high of 9.90 on the floor.
However, the squad exacted revenge on the Colonials at their second meet, the March 8 quad meet. The Terps also beat out North Carolina and Pennsylvania with a dominanting score of 196.025. Martinez placed first in the all-around competition with a 39.425. Records were set at this meet, starting with junior Sarah Honeig's 9.825 career high on vault. Freshman Skowronski posted a new career high on the bars (9.9) as well.
In their third meeting with George Washington on March 12, the Terps unleashed their best work, recording a season-high score of 196.650. The overall team score is the second highest in school history. Martinez won the all-around with her second 39.525 of the season. The Terps posted a season high 49.200 on the floor, while Hoenig notched a career high 9.925 on the balance beam. This would be the first of Hoenig's three 9.925s on the season. Sidekick Gatch also posted her career high, of a 9.90 on the beam as well. Pascual hit another school record 9.925 on the bars.
Against Rutgers, at their last home meet of the year, the Terps achieved several personal bests. Martinez recorded a career high 39.625 in the all-around, tying the school record set by Cote in 2000. On her record-setting night, Martinez posted a career high, 9.950 on the floor, the fifth highest score in school history. As a team, the Terps earned a season high balance beam score of 49.500, anchored by Hoenig's second 9.925 of the season. Both senior Catherine Gardner and Skowronski tied their career highs on the beam with 9.9s.
Martinez earned her second EAGL Gymnast of the Week honors of the season for her career high score. Teammate Honeig was named EAGL Specialist of the Week for her beam score.
The Terps entered the EAGL Championships as the third best team in the conference. Martinez won the all-around with another 39.625 score, becoming the first Terp to win the EAGL all-around title in the eight years of the league's existence. Her score of 39.625 is the best total ever at the league meet.
In winning the all-around crown, Martinez tied for first on beam (9.925), finished second on floor (9.925), and placed third on vault (9.925) The 9.925 marks on the beam and vault are new career and season highs for Martinez. Hoenig tied Martinez for first place with a 9.925 on the beam, her third of the season. Freshman Cameron Logan stepped up big on the beam, posting a career high 9.90 on the event. Sophomore Pascual tied for fourth on bars with a 9.875.
The fourth-place performance was enough to propel Maryland into the coveted last slot for the six-team regional championships in Athens, Ga. The team went on to register another fourth-place finish in the six-team event, bypassing No. 16 Ohio State and No. 24 NC State in the process.
Maryland posted a score of 193.825 while freshman Martinez finished sixth in the all-around, only one-tenth of a point from an NCAA Championships berth. Junior Rachel Sibert tied for ninth in the vault (9.775), Pascual led the way with a tie for 13th in the uneven bars (9.700), and Hoenig tied for eighth in the balance beam (9.850) and also tied for 14th in the floor excercise (9.775). Martinez was named as an NCAA Championships alternate in the all-around competition.
The Terps ended the season on a high note as their talented group was recognized and awarded by the EAGL. At least one Terp made it onto the all-conference team in each event, while a total of nine achieved academic honors.
Martinez earned first team all-conference honors for both the floor and all-around competition and made the second all-conference for the vault. On the uneven bars, Pascual was honored onto the first team all-conference.
Gatch earned a spot onto the second team all-conference for the beam while junior Hoenig was named to first team all-conference on the beam.
The gymnastics team won the Seventh Annual President's Cup for having the highest cumulative grade point average of all of Maryland's women's athletics teams in 2003.
The team was also awarded the C.H.A.M.P.S./Life Skills award for the second straight year, for exemplifying positive qualities such as academic excellence, athletic excellence, commitment to career development, commitment to personal development and commitment to service.