ST. LOUIS — There were few dry eyes among the Oregon State gymnastics team after competing at the NCAA Championships on Friday at St. Louis University’s Chaifetz Arena.
The Beavers did not make the Super Six and saw their season end with the first session, but there were no dropped heads or dragging feet on the way to the bus.
“These girls are my sisters and I think this season just proved that,” senior Erika Aufiero said. “They had my back in the gym and even out of the gym and we all know that we have each other’s back, and this season overall has just been incredible. We can’t walk away with our heads down. All we can do is just walk away with our heads held high because the whole entire season has been such an amazing ride, and that’s all we can ask for.”
Friday’s competition did not go the way Oregon State had intended. The Beavers finished sixth out of six with a 196.3625.
They wanted to make the program’s first Super Six since 1996, but chances dropped after the first two rotations and practically disappeared after the third.
A 9.900 by Kaytianna McMillan and a 9.875 by Madeline Gardiner could not raise the floor score above a 49.0875.
Scores were steady but unspectacular on vault, with Dani Dessaints anchoring and scoring a team-high 9.8375.
“They had some jitters on floor and vault. I was hoping that they would get that settled in before they came out for bars, but they did really get it settled as they went to beam. It was good to see that,” OSU coach Tanya Chaplin said.
“They vaulted a lot better, there was a lot of sticks. Vaulting had a consistent job of keep the scores where they were and it’s just one of those things. But it was nice to see them do some of (their) best vaults here.”
Said Gardiner: “As much as we wanted to go out there and leave everything on the floor, I think sometimes we might have tried a little too hard and tried to do more than what we were used to and sometimes that gets you.
“But personally, I know every girl went out there and did their best and did what they were trying to do. I’m not mad; I think that we did some beautiful gymnastics.”
Bars turned out to be particularly rough. The Beavers made one major mistake on the landing, but the sticks did not come for anyone else except Aufiero, who scored a 9.8875.
Aufiero’s score pulled the team score to a 48.9125, leaving a big gap to make up to land in the top three.
Chaplin said a 9.750 score could have been a 9.850 without the landing problems.
“It could be a little bit different because it was just like even if you took a hop or a step, they were really taking those landing deductions, which they need to be, and on bars we had the hops,” Chaplin said. “So overall the routines were much better, but unfortunately we didn’t have the sticks and that is probably four- or five-tenths right there.”
Chaplin gathered the gymnasts for a talk before beam and the team came together with a strong performance.
Megan Jimenez led off with a 9.7875, leading to a 9.800 by Sabrina Gill. When Silvia Colussi-Pelaez hit a 9.900, the Beavers were off.
McMillan scored a 9.8625, Dessaints a 9.8875 and Gardiner capped her career with a 9.9125.
“This whole season has just been such an incredible journey,” Aufiero said. “There’s obviously been bumps in the road, but those bumps have made us stronger, those bumps made us the team that we are and it brought our bond stronger.”