ACC Gymnastics Week 5 Recap: NC State upsets Clemson, Pitt posts season-high 196.525

By Kasey Nelson | February 4, 2024
Pitt's Jah'Liyah Bedminster
© Pitt Athletics

NC State beat Clemson on Friday to become 3-0 in ACC gymnastics, while Pitt showed huge improvement, posting the first 196 of its season and topping North Carolina by nearly two points.

Read on for the highlights from the two ACC matchups in Week 5. 

NC State @ #20 Clemson

Final score: NC State: 196.300 – Clemson: 195.600

The Tigers started their night with a 49.05 on vault, highlighted by Molly Arnold’s 9.85 on her Yurchenko 1.5, which tied her career high. Lauren Rutherford also performed a 1.5 to earn a 9.825, and freshman Maggie Holman debuted vault in the anchor position, posting a 9.85 on her front handspring pike half. The Wolfpack matched that 49.05 on bars, with Katie Harper and Elle Hadrick both notching 9.8s after their stuck dismounts, Alexis Ortega adding a 9.825, and Emily Shepard anchoring to earn a 9.85 and tie for first.

In rotation two, the Wolfpack posted their second 49.05 of the night, this time on vault. Ashley Knight scored a 9.85 for her huge front handspring pike half, Shepard added a 9.8, and Chloe Negrete anchored with a stuck Yurchenko full to earn a 9.875 and secure the event title. Clemson earned a 49.15 on bars with Eve Jackson’s stuck full-twisting double back to earn a 9.85 and tie for first with Shepard and Kaitlin DeGuzman, who stuck her double layout dismount. Lilly Lippeatt added another stuck dismount for a 9.825, and freshman Trinity Webb debuted in the anchor spot, earning a 9.825 after showcasing her beautiful lines and double layout dismount.

Entering rotation three, the Tigers were in the lead by one-tenth. Lippeatt led off on beam, earning a 9.775, and Rebecca Wells highlighted the event with a 9.85 and the beam title. But with Quinn Kuhl’s fall on her triple series, followed by Kielyn McCright’s big wobbles that caused her to miss both of her connections on her tuck jump full to beat jump and side aerial to split jump, the Tigers had to count her 8.9. Freshman Sierra Church made her debut as a Tiger on beam (9.65) due to Brie Clark being out of the beam and floor lineups due to illness. During the Wolfpack’s floor rotation, they posted a season high of 49.35. Hadrick led off with a 9.825, Knight secured a career high of 9.875, showcasing her front double full and Rudi to layout stepout, and Krista Zultevicz notched a 9.85. Shepard and anchor Negrete earned matching 9.9s to close out the rotation.

Entering the final rotation of the night, the Wolfpack were in the lead by 1.375. But the Tigers fired back with a huge 49.525 on floor. Holman led off and earned a career-high 9.9, Jackson added a 9.85, and Arnold secured a 9.95 by showcasing her big full-in and 2.5 to punch front. Rutherford fired a 9.95 to match Arnold’s, and the two tied for first. Sophomore Madison Minner debuted floor, going in for Brie Clark in the anchor spot, and capped off the Tigers’ record-breaking rotation with a 9.875 after showcasing a front double full and Rudi to layout stepout. 

For the Wolfpack, they entered beam needing a steady performance, and that’s what they showed. Freshman Katie Harper made her beam debut for a 9.725, Ortega stuck her switch leap to gainer pike to earn a 9.8, and Shepard also added a 9.8 – the fifth hit beam routine that ultimately secured the win over Clemson. To top it off, Negrete anchored the event with a 9.825, which helped the team achieve a 196.300. Shepard also took home the all-around title with a 39.35. 

Clemson head coach Amy Smith shared her optimism for the season after the team’s first loss.

“This was not exactly what we wanted to do, but some really great things happened, like closing out on floor the way we did. Phenomenal!” Smith said. “And we’ve got spectacular beam workers, so we’ve just got to figure out how to all show up together and bring our best when our best is needed, one through six.”

Wolfpack head coach Kim Landrus spoke on the night’s win and how to continue the momentum after a 3-0 start in the ACC.

“We started on bars and were getting after our landings, and we just built off of each performance,” Landrus said. “The team has big goals for this season, so they have to continue to be gritty and chase after what they want.  Being tight-minded and focusing on the process will be key to achieving that.”

North Carolina @ Pitt

Final score: Pitt: 196.525 – North Carolina: 194.875

The Panthers started their night on a high note, notching a season high on vault of 49.15 and improving more than half a point from last week. Arayah Simons earned a 9.825, Ciara Ward added a 9.875, and Jah’Liyah Bedminster earned a perfect score of 9.95 for her stuck Yurchenko full (9.95 start value) for a career high and the event title. On bars, the Tar Heels had Lali Dekanoidze back in the lineup after a minor injury, and she earned a 9.825 to tie for first, and Kaya Forbes added a 9.775 after a stuck full-in dismount. Isabelle Schaefer had an uncharacteristic fall when her hand slipped on her bail, but the team dropped her score to post a 48.6.

Pitt led going into rotation two and posted a 48.925 on bars. Simons and Jordyn Ewing both scored 9.825s after stuck blind full to double back dismounts to tie for first, and Emily Todd added a 9.8 after sticking her dismount. On vault, UNC’s Dekanoidze led the way for the Tar Heels, earning a 9.825 on her big Yurchenko full. UNC only put up five on the event after taking Schaefer out following her fall on bars.

Pitt held the lead over UNC heading into rotation three and delivered a season high on beam of 49.125, improving their team score by 1.575 from last week’s 47.55. Ewing stuck her gainer full dismount to earn a 9.85, Reyna Garvey entered the lineup after being out due to injury and added a 9.825, and Simons matched that score. Hallie Copperwheat anchored the Panthers, firing a 9.9 with her stuck 1.5 dismount that tied for first. The Tar Heels just missed the 49 mark on floor with a 48.975. Forbes was the highlight of the rotation, firing a 9.9 by showcasing her big full-in, and Julia Knower added a 9.85. 

In the final rotation of the night, UNC’s Jessica Naranjo led off beam with a 9.8 after her stuck 1.5 dismount, and Hallie Thompson also added a 9.8 after showcasing her triple series of a back handspring to back handspring to layout. Knower continued to build with a 9.85 that gave her the all-around title with a 39.150, and Taylor Schulze tied her career high of 9.9. The Panthers finished by posting their third season-high team score of the night with a 49.325 on floor en route to a season-high team score of 196.525. Kaylee Larson and Bedminster notched career highs of 9.9, Copperwheat added a 9.825, and Ewing anchored the Panthers with a high-energy routine to match her career high of 9.925 and take home the event title. 

ACC matchups continue next week as Clemson takes on Pitt at the Fitzgerald Field House on Friday, February 9 at 7 p.m. ET, and North Carolina heads to Reynolds Coliseum to take on NC State on Sunday, February 11 at 4 p.m. ET. Tune in to the ACC Network to watch.