Gymnastics scores high at UNH

When your competition emerges from a different league each week, your success can only be measured in raw numbers.

Recovering from its last error-prone performance, the Yale gymnastics team scored more points at this weekend’s New Hampshire Invitational than current Ivy champion Cornell did at last weekend’s Ivy Classic. But Yale’s 192.100 score, up from a disappointing 188.000 at Ivies, would not be enough to keep the Bulldogs out of last place among the four teams competing in New Hampshire.

Still, even though the University of New Hampshire pulled down a season-high 195.275 score to win the meet, the remaining team results came back fiercely close.

West Virginia came in second with 193.075 points, less than a point in front of Yale. Pittsburgh finished third with a 192.575 score, ahead of Yale by less than half a point.

“This was an important meet for us after a dismal performance at Ivies,” Kathryn Fong ’05 said. “We came out with our second highest team score of the season against some big schools.”

Fong placed 6th overall in the meet against some of the country’s most accomplished gymnasts. Her final 38.475 out of 40 possible points included a powerhouse floor exercise that earned her a 9.825 score.

“When I glanced over now and then, Yale was doing an excellent job,” New Hampshire head coach Gail Goodspeed said. “I have always enjoyed watching Kathryn Fong — I watched her floor routine and loved it.”

Yale head coach Barbara Tonry, who was generally enthusiastic about Yale’s performance, also singled out the team’s “outstanding” floor exercise for special mention.

“After the first rotation on the floor we were in first place,” Tonry said. “The other teams stood up and took notice.”

Yale similarly shone on uneven bars, finishing second. Fong, Jamie Green ’04, Shoshanna Engel ’03 and Andrea Wolf ’03 all brought home a 9.725 or higher in the event.

“We hit bars cold,” said Tonry. “We gave a beautiful [performance].”

Yale gymnasts took this meet’s success as a sign that their mental form was finally coming into line with their consistent physical confidence.

“We need to focus on routines rather scoring or winning,” Fong said. “That’s what we did in this meet. We put less pressure on ourselves, and it worked.”

Engel agreed that the team’s step-by-step method helped take some of the pressure off in New Hampshire.

“Our motivation going into this meet was to just perform at a consistent level with how we perform in training,” she said. “We have been training really well, lately.”

The team has two more invitational meets in which to gather still higher scores before qualifying for the NCAA Regionals becomes an issue. The last spot is still up for grabs, and the competition for it is down to three teams.

“Either Yale, [the University of] Rhode Island, or Rutgers will go to Regionals,” said Yale team captain Caroline Pignatelli ’02.

Coach Tonry, who was baffled by the team’s failure to win at Ivies, said her faith in Yale’s immense potential was reaffirmed in this meet. She added that Yale’s chances at making Regionals are good and getting better.

“When we don’t have nerves going, we can get into a groove,” Tonry said. “We had a late start building confidence this year, but we’ve got it now.”

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