North Carolina is gearing up for its largest competition of the year as the East Atlantic Gymnastics League championship returns to Carmichael Arena Saturday at 2 p.m.
In attendance will be all eight EAGL members: UNC, George Washington, Maryland, New Hampshire, NC State, Pittsburgh, Rutgers and Towson. The reigning conference champions, the West Virginia Mountaineers, left the EAGL at the conclusion of the 2012 season to become a member of the Big 12.
This year, head coach Derek Galvin sees the conference title as anyone's for the taking.
"It's going to be a great gymnastics competition," said Galvin. "Of the eight teams, I think there are seven that could win the championship. It's going to come down to whichever team competes the most complete meet."
The rotation order for the competition was determined through a random selection process at an EAGL meeting prior to the start of the season. The Tar Heels will begin the meet on the uneven bars then rotate through the balance beam, floor exercise and vault with a bye after each event.
While Galvin admitted that he would prefer to be pushing through the very last rotation, he is familiar with the position Carolina will be in Saturday.
"You want to be out there competing," said Galvin. "But in 2011 when we won the EAGL, we had the same rotation we have this weekend. We ended on a bye, and it was a nail biter not knowing how those teams still competing were going to finish."
UNC (13-7) finished the regular season third in the conference behind Maryland (18-3-1) and NC State (11-9-1), respectively. Heading into the championship, the Tar Heels are only separated by .090 from the Wolfpack.
Galvin expects the tight standings to fuel both the crowd and the gymnasts.
"People will have the opportunity to see a very competitive meet," said Galvin. "With the rivalries that we have within the league and the ACC, it's a chance for fans to really get into it."
The Tar Heels last hosted the EAGL championship in 2001 when the team took fifth place. The meet was also scheduled to be held at UNC in 2009, but renovations to Carmichael detoured the championship to NC State.
Now, the anticipated competition has arrived, and the Tar Heels expect to put forth their best performance of the season.
"We are proud of our arena," said Galvin. "I think the other teams will enjoy competing here, and we are glad to show off what our team can do."