On Monday, after it was announced that the ECAC Championships were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Owls gymnastics was awarded the championship by the conference.
They were awarded the title by way of having the highest National Qualifying Score in the ECAC with 194.520 points. Yale had the second highest score with 193.965 and Penn came in third with 193.375. This conference championship is their second in team history and also their second consecutive title.
Although their season was ended abruptly, the Owls gymnastics team has a lot to be proud of. The team scored at least 194 points five times this season. In three of those instances, they scored over 195 points, with a season high score of 195.575 vs Ursinus on Senior Day, which turned out to be their final meet of the season. Although the Owls struggled on the road (1-5) and were average in neutral site meets (6-6) they dominated at home, posting a 7-1 record in McGonigle Hall.
Sophomore Ariana Castrence, who was last year’s Rookie of the Year in the conference continues her momentum as this year’s ECAC Athlete of the Year. Castrence has consistently been at the forefront for the Owls this season, competing in the all-around for every meet this season. The highlight of her season came in the home opener vs SUNY Cortland & South Connecticut State, where she scored a program record 39.275 in the all-around. Castrence expresses her thoughts on her achievements, “I’ve been able to hone in on perfecting my gymnastics, and I’ve made so much progress from the beginning of the season until now. It’s just so rewarding to see that it pays off in the end.”
Castrence wasn’t the only Owl to shine this season, Temple nearly swept the ECAC’s major awards list. Freshman Madi Brooks earned Co-Rookie of the Year honors for the ECAC. Senior Jaylene Everett earned one of the four Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors. And Josh Nilson earned his second consecutive Head Coach of the Year award in as many years with the Owls. Outside of the gym however, the Owls were just as impressive. At the time the season was abruptly ended, the team had an average GPA score of 3.58. Twelve Owls earned their way onto the ECAC All-Academic Team, accumlating a GPA of 3.2 or higher.
Although the team was down about not being able to finish their season on their terms, Coach Nilson reassured them on their accomplishments stating, “we didn’t get to prove that we were worthy of the championship at one meet, but we proved it through out the season at 12 different meets.” Those were very uplifting words to say the least, but it’s still a disappointing way to end a season. The NCAA still has not decided whether to extend eligibility to seniors in spring athletics or not, but these seniors at the very least deserve to have the option to finish their college careers on their terms on top.
What we do know for sure, is that Tori Edwards and Delaney Garin will be back as seniors. Ariana Castrence and Taylor Newland will be back as juniors with the now two-time Coach of the Year Josh Nilson at the helm. This team is in good hands as they look for a three peat in the ECAC.