Pflieger Propels Gymnastics to Fifth Place at NCAA University Park Regional
Defending national champion and top-ranked University of Florida won the regional with a 197.050 to edge 15th-ranked Penn State (196.725), which will join the Gators at the NCAA National Championships in Birmingham, Ala. (April 18-20). No. 12 Oregon State (196.525) finished in third place, followed by Kentucky (195.925). Maryland took sixth place with a 194.525.
The Wildcats jumped out of the gates quickly with a 48.850 on floor exercise in the first rotation to slide into second place behind Penn State (49.300). Hannah Barile (Sinking Spring, Pa.), who was the last 'Cat in the lineup, registered New Hampshire's highest score with a 9.825 (T-20th). Senior classmate Erin Machado (Swansea, Mass.) tallied a 9.800 (T-23rd), while Kelsey Aucoin (Double Oak, Texas) and Pflieger scored matching marks of 9.750 (T-27th).
UNH took sole possession of first place (97.950) through two rotations courtesy of a powerful showing on vault. The 'Cats amassed a 49.100 on that apparatus, which represented their second-highest vault score of the season (49.200, March 8). Pflieger spearheaded the effort with a personal-best 9.875 to tie for seventh place. Adrienne Hill (Midlothian, Va.) tied a career high with a 9.825, which was equaled by Aucoin for a 17th-place deadlock. Barile chipped in with a 9.800 (T-25th).
A third-rotation bye caused the Wildcats to slide to fourth place, behind the host Nittany Lions (98.350), Oregon State (98.325) and Florida (98.125).
UNH fought back into third place (146.500) in the fourth rotation by turning in a 48.550 on uneven bars. Lauren Brodie (Mogadore, Ohio) earned a share of the team's top bar score for the fourth time in the last five meets with a 9.750 (T-20th), which matched Pflieger. Penn State moved back in front courtesy of a 147.300; Kentucky (146.875) jumped ahead of UNH, while Maryland (145.925) took fourth place. Oregon State (98.325) was in fifth place, and eventual champion Florida (98.125) was at the back of the pack.
The Wildcats wrapped up on balance beam. For the eighth time this season, Kayla Gray (Buffalo, N.Y.) paced the beam lineup; the junior tallied a 9.800 to claim a share of ninth place. Aucoin scored a 9.750 (T-20th), and Hill added a 9.725 (T-22nd).
Pflieger tied for ninth in all-around with a 39.050.
Associate head coach Ed Datti and assistant coach Ali Carr were named the Northeast Region Assistant Coaches of the Year, and associate athletic director for operations Carrie Kimball was feted as the Northeast Region Administrator of the Year.
UNH closes out a season in which it captured the East Atlantic Gymnastics League (EAGL) championship, the University's second-ever EAGL title and first since 2003. For more information on the UNH gymnastics team, visit www.unhwildcats.com.