Spending spring break practicing in New Haven and facing a grueling series of away meets against strong teams took their toll on the Yale gymnastics team, as the Bulldogs went 2-6 over break, dropping to 10-8 overall.
Although losses and low scores have doomed Yale’s hopes for the NCAA tournament, the 2003 Ivy League champion Elis, who won the 27th Ivy Classic March 2, will host the ECAC tournament for the first time in their history this Saturday at the John J. Lee Amphitheater.
They are hoping for more success than they had over break.
Shoshanna Engel ’03, the team captain, said the spring break meets were difficult ones.
“Our big road trip to Penn State and URI proved to be one of the bigger challenges of this year,” Engel said. “It was kind of rough, and reminded us that we were still in the thick of the season and we had a lot to do in these last few weeks. Now, I think we’ve done that work.”
The Bulldogs faced No. 30 Michigan State, Rutgers, and Brown at the Rutgers Invitational March 8, beating only Brown and losing to Rutgers, the second place finisher, by almost two points.
The Elis then traveled to Penn State, where they lost to Temple, No. 28 Penn State, and No. 8 Florida on March 14.
A trip to the University of Rhode Island March 16 brought a little more success — despite losing to New Hampshire, the Bulldogs beat URI for only the second time in Yale gymnastics history. The first time Yale beat URI was at home earlier this year.
Andrea Wolf ’03 said that beating the Rams was a good source of momentum for the Elis heading into ECAC’s.
“It was good to go into Rhode Island because it sort of sucks to be in New Haven over spring break,” Wolf said. “We went to Rhode Island and beat them in their house for the first time.”
Still, Wolf said, the Bulldogs made a few mistakes on the road.
“We had some rough times on bars and beam in some of the meets, with multiple falls,” Wolf said. “That shouldn’t be happening this late in the season,”
Yale will go into the ECAC tournament Saturday seeded second, trailing top-ranked William and Mary, which is in the hunt for its third straight ECAC title.
Yale, despite being a 13-time Ivy League champion, has never won the ECAC tournament.
Engel said that the Bulldogs have their sights set on William and Mary and the ECAC crown.
“We really want to win ECACs,” Engel said. “The last two years we’ve come in second to William and Mary, and by very close margins both years. We want to walk away with the victory, which would be Yale’s first ECAC [gymnastics] title. It’s our last meet and its at home and we want to walk away champions.”
The tournament is Saturday, March 29 at 1:00 in the John J. Lee Amphitheater. Brown, Cornell, James Madison, Pennsylvania, William & Mary and Yale will all be present.
Meanwhile, Yale’s spring break losses to top-ranked teams like New Hampshire, Michigan, Penn State, and Rutgers have all but eliminated any possibility of an NCAA tournament appearance for the Elis, as Yale remains ranked sixth in the Northeast, two spots shy of where they need to be to qualify for regionals.
In gymnastics, the regional qualifying score, or RQS, is used to determine rankings and eligibility for the NCAA regional and national championships. The RQS is determined by taking the top six total meet scores for each team, three of which must be away. The high score is then dropped, and the remaining five scores are averaged together. Yale’s RQS is too low to qualify for regionals.
Engel said the Bulldogs’ low RQS is not at the forefront of their thoughts.
“It’s a little bit disappointing,” Engel said, “But I look back at my freshman year, and I think we’ve come a long way. We’re thinking about this weekend, so our thoughts aren’t monopolized by [failing to qualify].”