Courtesy of Air Force

BERKELEY, Calif. – Showing out in front of thousands, freshman gymnast Maggie Slife represented the Air Force Academy on Friday afternoon at the Berkeley Regional finishing with a 38.525 all-around score, completing the round with a seventh-place finish amongst some of the best gymnasts in the country at Haas Pavilion.

Falcon Head Coach Jennifer Green on the atmosphere at Haas Pavilion:
“Maggie had an incredible day. Everyone was so welcoming. Washington made us feel part of the group/team and all of the Denver fans were cheering and chanting Maggie’s name. It really made her day. What wonderful sportsmanship!”

Rotating with Washington and opening with the Huskies on bars, Slife opened the day in convincing fashion with a 9.825.

“Maggie started off with a bang on an incredible bars routine,” Green said. “She nailed handstands and stuck her dismount! You couldn’t ask for more from her, and it was a great start to the day.”

On beam, Slife started strong hitting a huge series and impressive punch front, but was docked for a small adjustment through her leap and a slight step forward on the dismount. Slife ended the event with a 9.750.

“I was proud of her for remembering her back up leaps and jumps to keep her start at a 10.0” Green said. “She stayed level-headed in the moment, and it showed a lot of maturity. A small step on her dismount, but she did great regardless.”

With all eyes on her as the final performer of the third rotation, Slife, beaming with confidence, scored a 9.825 in her floor routine:

“The energy on floor was tremendous,” Green said. Her tumbling was huge, and it showed that she was enjoying herself throughout the whole routine.”

A tough finish on vault capped an otherwise strong regional performance, as Slife came up short on her take off, falling back on her landing to score a 9.075.

“Maggie was disappointed with her vault, and if she wasn’t, then I would be worried. But she’s a competitor. And she represented Air Force extremely well today.”

A culminating moment in the Mountain West Freshman of the Year’s first season as a Falcon, Slife proved on Friday that the moment was not too big for her:

“Maggie told me, ‘I’ve grown up watching some of these athletes, and now I’m here with them. It’s a special moment, getting to be a part of this,'” Green said.

The competition among the four competing teams in Haas Pavilion throughout the day was heated, as scores between the top three teams were within two tenths heading into the final rotation. No. 6 Denver and No. 11 UCLA earned the two qualifying spots for Sunday’s regional final, with the other two teams to be determined in the second session.

“The parity in our sport is amazing,” Green said. “This March madness is extremely exciting. There have been lots of huge upsets across the country.”

Coach on the significance of getting to participate in an NCAA Regional:
“Maggie showed what a true strong woman looks like today in front of the nation. For her and this program, getting to be a part of this reinforces that Air Force is for real.”

Up Next:
The Falcons await results from the second leg of day two and regional finals to determine qualification for the NCAA Championship in Fort Worth on Thursday, Apr. 18.