ACC Gymnastics Week 7 Recap: Emily Shepard leads NC State to regular season title

By Kasey Nelson | February 20, 2024
NC State's Emily Shepard
© NC State Athletics

NC State clinched the 2024 ACC Gymnastics Regular Season Championships in Raleigh on Saturday night after dominating against Clemson and increasing their conference record to 5-0. The Wolfpacks’ 197.575 was also their second-highest team score in school history. And down the road in Chapel Hill, North Carolina catapulted to a 196.650 against Pitt to grab their first ACC win.

Read on for the highlights from the two ACC gymnastics matchups in Week 7. 

#22 Clemson @ NC State

Final score: NC State: 197.575 – Clemson: 196.000

The Wolfpack set the tone for the night with a season-high 49.250 on vault. Krista Zultevicz registered a 9.85, and Ashley Knight added a 9.875 for her front handspring pike half. Emily Shepard stuck her Yurchenko full to grab her first 9.9 of the day, and Chloe Negrete anchored with a 9.85. The Tigers also started strong with a 49.375 on bars — a season-high team score. Rebecca Wells led off with a 9.8, Eve Jackson built with a 9.875 for her stuck full-out dismount, and Lilly Lippeatt notched a 9.9 after her blind full to stuck double back. Kaitlin DeGuzman added a 9.85 while Lauren Rutherford and Trinity Brown earned matching 9.875s with stuck double layouts to finish their first rotation. 

Going into the second rotation, Clemson led NC State by 0.125. On vault for the Tigers, Wells led off with a 9.9 for her stuck Yurchenko full, and Jackson added a 9.825. Molly Arnold continued the sticks with her Yurchenko 1.5 to earn a 9.925 and the event title. But after back-to-back falls by Madison Minner and Maggie Holman, the Tigers had to count Minner’s 9.35. Brown anchored the rotation with a 9.8. The Wolfpack followed up with another season-high 49.450 on bars. Kailee Adomaites led off with a 9.875 after her stuck double back dismount. Peyton Childs fell on her Jaeger, but Madeline Reid got the Wolfpack back on track with a 9.85 after she stuck her full-twisting double back. Katie Harper built with a 9.9 after a stuck double layout, and Alexis Ortega added a 9.85. Anchor Emily Shepard highlighted the rotation with a stunning routine, capped off with a stuck dismount to earn a career-high 9.975 and the event title. 

With a 0.525 lead, the Wolfpack moved to beam to post a 49.375. Meg Adler led off with a 9.85, Macy Jennings fell on her triple series, but Harper got the team back on track, earning a career-high 9.85. Ortega added a 9.825, and Shepard stuck her side aerial to 1.5 dismount to fire a career-high 9.95, tying for first and earning her third 9.9+ of the day. Negrete closed out the rotation with a 9.9. The Tigers bounced back on floor with a 49.2. Jackson scored a 9.875 for her huge full-out and front tuck through to double tuck, and Arnold matched her score after her full-in and 2.5 to punch front. Wells notched her second 9.9 of the day after a big full-in, and Brie Clark added in another 9.875. Brown anchored but had an error on her first pass of front tuck through to double back, but the team was able to drop her score. (She landed squatted on the front tuck and only had enough power to do a back tuck, resulting in a lower start value.)

After three rotations, NC State held the lead over Clemson by seven-tenths. The Tigers finished off on beam, with Lippeatt leading off and earning her second 9.9 of the day after a stuck front gainer full. Clark added a 9.875 after her stuck front full dismount. Quinn Kuhl had a fall on her triple series, but Wells fired back with a 9.95 to tie for the event title and her third 9.9+ of the day. Kielyn McCright fell on her side aerial, so the Tigers had to count a fall for the second event of the night. Sierra Church anchored the team with a 9.825. For the Wolfpack, they ended with another season-high event score, posting a 49.5 on floor to capture a season team-high of 197.575. Maddie Hall led off with a 9.875, Knight built with a 9.9 after her front double full and Rudi to layout stepout. Zultevicz added a 9.85, and Katya Edwards scored a 9.825. Shepard earned a 9.925 and her fourth 9.9+ of the day. Negrete anchored with a powerful routine of 9.95 after her double pike, front full to front layout, and double back to win the event and help the team remain undefeated in ACC action.

Shepard won the all-around with a 39.750, which is a new program record for NC State. She also became the first Wolfpack gymnast to earn 9.9+ on every event in a single meet. Wells went 39.550 in the all-around as well.

Head coach Kim Landrus spoke on her team’s performance that clinched the ACC regular season title, saying, “They have worked so hard for this moment. From newcomers to veterans, this was a total team effort, and I’m super proud of them.”

Upcoming matchups: 

Pitt @ North Carolina

Final score: North Carolina: 196.650 – Pitt: 196.125

The Tar Heels got right to work in their home meet with a 49.1 on vault. Cory Shinohara stuck her Yurchenko full for a 9.85, and Julia Knower earned a 9.9 and the event title after her stuck full. Lali Dekanoidze kept the sticks alive and anchored with a 9.85. On bars, the Panthers answered with a 49.050. Reyna Garvey returned to the bar lineup to earn a 9.825, and Jordyn Ewing stuck her blind full to double back to score a 9.85. Emily Todd added a 9.825, and Jah’Liyah Bedminster scored a 9.8.

After the first rotation, UNC led by less than a tenth. On vault, the Panthers earned a 49.125 on vault with solid performances from the lineup. Kennedy Duke scored a 9.8, Julie Madso added a 9.825 from her stuck vault, and Shruthi Anand matched that score. Bedminster anchored with a stuck Yurchenko full to earn a 9.85. The Tar Heels scored a season-high of 49.3 on bars, highlighted by three 9.9 + routines. Gwen Fink stuck her dismount for a 9.9, Isabelle Schaefer stuck her full-twisting double back to fire a 9.925 and take the event title, and Dekanoidze anchored with a 9.9.

After two rotations, UNC increased their lead to 0.225 over Pitt. The Tar Heels moved to beam to score a season-high 49.025. Hallie Thompson posted a 9.8, and Camryn Rueda and Fink added matching 9.825s. Knower notched a 9.85 to tie for first, and while anchor Taylor Schulze fell on her dismount, the team was able to drop that score. On floor, Pitt posted a 49.225. Ciara Ward led off with a 9.85, Todd earned a career-high of 9.875 with her double pike and double tuck, and Bedminster stuck her double back to notch a 9.9. Hallie Copperwheat fell on her last pass, but the team dropped her score after Ewing anchored with a 9.85.

Heading into the final rotation of the night, UNC had only a slim lead over Pitt by 0.025, but the Panthers ended on beam and posted a 48.725. Duke scored a 9.8, but when Ewing fell, Pitt had to count Todd’s 9.5. Garvey and Copperwheat got the team back on target after matching 9.85s to tie for first. For the Tar Heels, they capped off their night on floor with a 49.225 —another season high. Amy Wozniak led off with a 9.825, and Schulze bounced back with a 9.875. Rueda landed low on her last pass, but her score was dropped after Kaya Forbes added a 9.875 with her full-in and Knower anchored with a 9.925. With that performance, she grabbed the event title and helped secure the season-high win of 196.650.  

Knower also won the all-around with a 39.425.

Head coach Danna Durante discussed her squad’s season-high performance: “The team is so good at what they do and was having an absolute blast. And the by-product of that — the cherry on top — was they had their best meet of the season.”

Upcoming matchups: