Morgan Lane couldn’t have come up with a much better way to end nearly two decades of gymnastics.

The Columbus North graduate and North Carolina senior will compete in the NCAA championships April 20 in St. Louis. This will be her first trip to the NCAA meet.

“This is something that I’ve wanted to do all four years, and it hasn’t happened,” Lane said. “I definitely wanted to make it, but you can’t really think about it too much because you would too much pressure on yourself. Knowing that this is my last chance makes it extremely special.”

Lane is one of 12 gymnasts to qualify in the all-around competition. She was the top individual in Raleigh Regional who was not on one of the two advancing teams.

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The Tar Heels had other individuals compete in the regional, but they were not in the same rotation as Lane. Instead, she competed in a rotation with LSU, and the Tigers basically adopted her like one of their teammates.

“I think what makes this year even more impressive is that she was not competing with her entire team at the regional, so to achieve what she achieved this year without the rest of her team in the same rotation is very impressive,” North Carolina coach Derek Galvin said. “The way that entire (LSU) team embraced her, they were very gracious and very welcoming to her, and I think that made her experience even richer.”

Making it to the NCAA meet has been a redemption for Lane. She missed qualifying last year by one spot.

This year has been Lane’s most productive. She has scored above a 39 in the all-around all 10 times she has competed and had a career-high 39.55, which ranks fourth in school history. She scored 9.95 twice on the beam, which ranks third in school history, and a 9.925 three times on the floor, which ranks 10th in school history.

“She’s had a fantastic season,” Galvin said. “Her entire career has been exceptional. Last year was a great year. I think in terms of the quality of her routines, this was one of her best years, if not the best. She just continued to get stronger as the year progressed. She’s achieved a level of performance and consistency that we’ve rarely seen in the history of our program.”

As stellar as Lane has been in gymnastics, she’s been just as sound in the classroom. The chemistry major and biology minor, who carries a 3.864 GPA, has been named East Atlantic Gymnastics League Scholar of the Year.

A Phi Beta Kappa inductee, Lane is one of four Carolina senior student athletes who have been selected for the Weaver-James-Corrigan ACC postgraduate scholarship.

“Both my parents remind me that my gymnastics won’t last forever, but you need your academics for the rest of your life,” Lane said. “That’s one of the reasons I came to North Carolina — for that component, as well as the gymnastics.”

Lane, who has been doing gymnastics since “probably the day that I started walking,” plans to take a gap year next year and work with Athletes In Action at UNC. She plans apply this summer to medical school, which she would begin in the fall of 2019.

Next week’s NCAA meet will be Lane’s last gymnastics competition.

“I’m just going to go and really have the time of my life and enjoy every minute,” Lane said. “God gave me this talent, and I’m so happy to use it. Of course, it would be awesome to place, but that’s not even in my mind right now.”

Galvin called Lane an exceptional person, student and athlete.

“She’s one of those rare individuals that pursues excellence in everything she does,” Galvin said. “If I had three or four Morgans on the team, we’d probably be competing as a team and be one of the top seeds in the country. When Morgan graduates and leaves Chapel Hill, it’s going to be a sad day for all of us that are still here, but a happy day for her.”

Morgan Lane

Name: Morgan Lane

High school: Columbus North

College: North Carolina

Year: Senior

Major: Chemistry

Minor: Biology

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Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.