After Falling Short at Regionals, North Carolina Looks Towards the Future

North Carolina competed in round one of the Denver regional on Thursday. After two rotations, the Tar Heels trailed Arizona by the slimmest possible margin: 97.725 to 97.700. But when North Carolina went to floor, it had two falls and a routine with two out-of-bounds deductions. Even though the meet was pretty much over, the Tar Heels still had to finish up on beam. Head coach Danna Durante had no problem getting her team ready for beam.

“I just know how good they are on beam, and you can’t take one event to the next,” said Durante. “I just said, hey, let’s fight through the end.” And the Tar Heels did, in fact, fight through to the end, scoring a 49.000 on beam to finish off the afternoon. 

Since North Carolina didn’t advance to round two of regionals as a team, it’s time to start looking toward the future, beginning with Lali Dekanoidze. Dekanoidze will compete in the all around in round two of regionals. 

“It’ll definitely be harder without having my team on the floor with me because I do it for them, and just having them right next to me when I compete is so exciting,” said Dekanoidze. “But they’ll be in the stands, so I’ll still hear them for sure.” Dekanoidze is ranked eighth nationally on bars with an NQS of 9.955. 

But the Tar Heels have big goals that extend beyond this season. Next year the ACC will start sponsoring women’s gymnastics, which brings a lot of excitement. 

“It’s incredible. The ACC, the last power five, is going to sponsor gymnastics women’s gymnastics. I think that’s incredible for our sport,” said Durante. She said that right now, they don’t quite feel like the rest of the school knows what the gymnastics team is all about. “It’s a little bit like when we’re not a part of the ACC, and the rest of our colleagues are.” 

While being a true member of the ACC is exciting, Durante and her staff ultimately aim for their team to be a true competitor nationwide. “Our staff wants to be that program that is not on the play-in, that we’re into regionals every year and ultimately, at some point down the road, that we are in the national conversation,” said Durante. “We want to just keep getting better every year.”

Article by Emily Lockard

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