Pitt’s Rachel Dugan named EAGL Rookie of the Week


Pitt first-year gymnast Rachel Dugan picked up EAGL Rookie of the Week honors Wednesday. Jeff Ahearn | Senior Staff Photograp

By Steve Rotstein | Sports Editor

The season may not have started the way the Pitt gymnastics team wanted, but the Panthers turned things around in their second match with a razor-thin victory over the No. 21 West Virginia Mountaineers.

Pitt has a pair of newcomers — Rachel Dugan and Alecia Petrikis — to thank for its solid start, and the Eastern Atlantic Gymnastics League is recognizing the first-year Panthers for their success. Dugan received EAGL Rookie of the Week honors on Wednesday for her performance on the bars against WVU, one week after the EAGL named Petrikis its first Rookie of the Week of 2017 for her floor routine against Ohio State.

“The EAGL Rookie of the Week award is a huge honor to receive,” Dugan said. “It’s always nice to be recognized for the hard work put in during practice.”

At her debut meet against Ohio State, Dugan posted a respectable score of 9.700 on the bars to take home fourth place. Petrikis, meanwhile, posted a score of 9.825 on the floor exercise to tie Pitt senior Tracey Pearson for second place at the event.

“Wasn’t that pretty?” Pitt head coach Debbie Yohman said in a press release about Petrikis’ first meet with the Panthers. “[Floor] is her best event, and she just shone.”

But Petrikis’ effort wasn’t enough to defeat the Buckeyes, as the Panthers fell 194.375-192.800. But it did give the first-year gymnasts reason to believe they could compete at the NCAA level — confidence that carried over to the team’s next meet.

“I was proud of how I competed at the Ohio State meet. It was my first actual competition in college so there were obviously nerves present, but I think I handled the pressure pretty well,” Dugan said. “There are always places to improve, though, so I tried to take things I learned from the Ohio State meet and work to fix them in practice.”

Those improvements paid off Friday against the Mountaineers, a team that had won the last 51 meetings with Pitt dating back to 1991. Thanks in part to the newcomers, that streak is now a thing of the past.

Petrikis’ score dipped to 9.600 on the floor exercise, but Dugan improved her 9.700 from the season opener to a score of 9.850, good for a first-place finish on the bars. The Panthers needed every bit of that spectacular performance, as they just barely escaped with a 194.025-193.875 victory over WVU.

“It was awesome,” Dugan said about the meet. “We’ve been practicing so hard and it was nice to have that pay off, not only in my bars performance, but through the whole meet as a team. An individual win so early on was exciting, but the team win was even sweeter.”

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