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Undefeated UNC comes to BG

The Bowling Green State gymnastics team has rhapsodized about how great they want to become.

Now, with last weekend’s loss to Southeast Missouri State tucked into their memory banks and a dual meet with an undefeated North Carolina Tar Heel squad looming tomorrow, the Falcons will be able to see how good they already are.

“We didn’t have a good meet last weekend and I think a lot of that had to do with how young they are,” head coach Dan Connelly said. “This weekend’s meet will tells us a lot about ourselves and I certainly think being able to compete with a team like North Carolina would boost the confidence level.

“On the other hand, if we are able to beat them, then the confidence level will be really high,” he said. “But we know it’s going to be a tough meet.”

BG (1-1, 1-0) posted a 191.425 team score in their last meet compared to an impressive 193.450 score in the season opener. Despite the stark contrast in performances, Connelly said he wants to keep that in perspective and focus more on the teams steady improvement, instead.

The Falcons have been led by co-captain Melissa Popovich, who was named Mid-American Conference Gymnast of the week during both weeks of competition and established new career-highs of 39.225 and 39.275, respectively.

Kristen DiPietro has recorded a second (38.225) and fifth-place (37.125) finish in BG’s first two meets of the season.

“I would say the comeback that Marie-Eve (Boisvert) is making has helped the team…Kari Elste is another individual that has made a big contribution,” Connelly said. “I think everyone has experienced the usual aches and pains, but all of them have to continued to work hard toward getting better.”

Twenty-second year head coach Derek Galvin and his UNC Tar Heels will be competing against the Falcons for the first time since 1998 and making their first trip to Bowling Green.

Galvin said his team is looking forward to experiencing a different type of climate.

“We are headed up there with our eyes wide open and looking forward to an adventure,” he said. “We heard it’s in the teens, but hopefully everyone has enough warm clothing.”

The Tar Heels are coming off of a win against Maryland with a team score of 194.900 on Saturday and a first-place finish at the George Washington Invitational on Jan. 18, where they accounted for a 194.800 team score.

“It has been a good start to the season for us and I think they are competing at a high level right now,” Galvin said. “We have a few injuries, but our main goal is to improve upon our team scores.”

UNC has two gymnasts that qualified for the NCAA Championships last year in Courtney Bumpers and Anna Wilson, but Galvin isn’t underestimating his team’s competition.

“Bowling Green has a very good program and I have a lot of respect for their gymnasts and their coach,” he said. “I think both teams are very evenly matched.”

DiPietro said that BG is excited about the opportunity to compete against one of the best team’s in the country and she believes it will raise the level the Falcons’ performance.

“We just came off a loss and we really want to do good,” DePietro said. “We competed against them before, so I think we’re pumped because the last time we lost and I think we’re ready to beat them.” The meet is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. in Eppler Complex.

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