ACC Gymnastics Week 4 Recap: Clemson and NC State win big in conference duals

By Kasey Nelson | January 29, 2024
A Clemson gymnast on beam.
© Clemson Athletics

Things are heating up in ACC gymnastics — to the tune of .05 — after No. 24 Clemson scored a 196.550 against North Carolina, and NC State a 196.500 against Pitt. 

Read on for the highlights and lowlights from the two ACC matchups in Week 4.

#24 Clemson @ North Carolina

Final score: Clemson: 196.550 – North Carolina: 194.250

The Tar Heels’ vault rotation was highlighted by sophomore Kaya Forbes’ stuck Yurchenko full to earn a 9.85, while Lali Dekanoidze was absent from lineups due to an injury from last weekend’s meet. For the Tigers, they earned a 49.150 on bars, highlighted by graduate Kaitlin DeGuzman’s stuck double layout dismount for a 9.875. Senior Rebecca Wells earned a 9.85 after sticking her full-twisting double back dismount while freshman Lilly Lippeatt and junior Lauren Rutherford also added two 9.825s. 

Going into rotation two, the Tigers had the lead over the Tar Heels by four-tenths. On vault, Clemson’s Rutherford stuck her Yurchenko 1.5 to earn the event title and a career-high 9.925. The Tar Heels struggled on bars, leading off with two falls from Jamie Shearer and Jessica Naranjo and being forced to count Shearer’s 9.15. Sophomore Gwen Fink also caught her release too close, and her 9.275 had to count. Junior Isabelle Schaefer handled the pressure situation in the fifth spot well, sticking her full-twisting double back dismount and matching her career high of a 9.925 to earn the event title. 

The Tar Heels looked to reset in their beam rotation, with Naranjo leading off with a 9.75 and graduate Hallie Thompson matching that score. Fink had an uncharacteristic fall on her back handspring to layout to layout series, but they were able to drop her score. The Tigers headed to their best event, floor, with freshman Maggie Holman leading off with a 9.825, matching her career high by showcasing a front double full and front handspring Rudi to back layout. Sophomore Molly Arnold earned a 9.875, matching that score for the third week in a row, and Rutherford added a 9.85. Sophomore Brie Clark anchored the rotation, firing a 9.925 for the second week in a row and earning her third straight event title. 

The Tar Hells ended the night on a high note, earning their highest event score of the season with a 49.150 on floor. Fink bounced back after beam to post a career-high 9.875, Forbes stuck her full-in to earn a 9.825, and junior Taylor Schulze made her floor debut to earn a career-high 9.825. The icing on top was junior Julia Knower’s 9.9 after sticking her double pike.

The Tigers moved to their final rotation on beam, where they posted their highest beam score of the season with a 49.2. Wells led off with an aggressive back handspring to layout and stuck double full dismount to match her season high of 9.875. Freshman Quinn Kuhl showed off her triple series of a back handspring to back handspring to layout and stuck 1.5 dismount to earn a career high of 9.8. Sophomore Kielyn McCright earned a 9.9 for the second week in a row while Clark anchored the event, showcasing her standing front tuck to straddle jump and stuck front full dismount to earn a 9.9 and match her career high. McCright and Clark tied for the beam title, helping Clemson secure their highest team score of the season (196.55). Wells earned the all-around title with a 39.225.

Pitt @ NC State 

Final score: NC State: 196.500 – Pitt: 194.100

The Wolfpack earned a 49.125 in their first rotation of the night, highlighted by graduates Emily Shepard and Chloe Negrete tying for first with 9.875s for their Yurchenko fulls. Freshman Ashley Knight bounced back from her fall last week, earning a 9.825 on her front handspring pike half.  The Panthers’ bars rotation featured senior Jay’Liyah Bedminster and freshman Julie Madsoe leading the way with 9.8s and graduate Arayah Simons adding a 9.775.

With the Wolfpack leading after rotation one, Pitt headed to vault, where the highlight was once again Bedminster, who earned 9.825 for her Yurchenko full. On bars, NC State earned a season-high 49.175, marked by junior Peyton Childs 9.85, followed by Katie Harper’s matching score after sticking her double layout dismount. Graduate Alexis Ortega added a 9.825, and Shepard anchored the event, showcasing her beautiful lines and sticking her dismount to match her career high with a 9.925 and take home the event title.

In the second half of the meet, NC State just missed the 49 mark on beam, with Ortega and junior Macy Jennings leading the way for the second week in a row, tying for a first place finish with 9.825s. On floor, Pitt put up a season high 49.2, with junior Hallie Copperwheat posting a 9.85 after showcasing a front tuck thru to double pike and double tuck, both with controlled landings. Sophomore Kennedy Duke showed off a huge double back to earn her a 9.825, Bedminster added a 9.875,, and junior Jordyn Ewing anchored the event with 9.85.

In the final rotation, the Panthers struggled on beam, with falls from sophomore Carla Ferzoco and Madsoe, which forced them to count the latter’s 9.05. Ewing also had big wobbles for a 9.475 that had to count. Copperwheat anchored and earned a 9.8 after showing a clean routine with a side somi, side aerial, and back handspring to layout, which earned the second highest beam score of the night. 

The Wolfpack ended their night with a season-high 49.275 on floor. Freshman Elle Hadrick earned a career-high 9.85, and senior Krista Zultevicz added a 9.875 with a big 2.5 to punch front and double tuck. Then graduates Shepard and Negrete commanded the floor with their captivating tumbling and dance, firing back-to-back 9.925s to tie for first on the event and help the Wolfpack earn their best score of the season (196.500). Shepard also took the all-around title with a 39.475.

Wolfpack head coach Kim Landrus was impressed by the team’s performance in their home opener: 

“One of our big goals every single competition is 1% better, one day better. And in this meet, we had a little dip on beam and had to grind a bit on floor after a leadoff fall and really work until the end. They fought and we came out with our season high, so I couldn’t be more proud of them.”