Slips on beam prove costly for gymnasts

Carrying a sizable lead going into the final event of the day, the gymnastics team lost its balance.

The Elis lost several points due to six team falls on the beam, barely losing their season opener 178.475-178.450 to Springfield College Saturday at Blake Arena.

“Springfield stayed on the beam, and we didn’t,” Seltzer said. “If we had stayed on the beam, we would’ve won by a huge margin.”

Despite a 1-2 finish in all-around competition by Miki Seltzer ’07 and Christine Lacy ’05, a team-leading performance on bars from Suchitra Paul ’07 and a victory on floor from captain Jamie Green ’04, the Elis’ best efforts collapsed.

Yale coach Barbara Tonry called the meet an abnormal performance citing the six falls from the beam as part of an unusually high number of errors. She added that the team’s “very high skills” in the floor exercise were negated when required elements were not completed. Tonry also pointed out that the team is missing several key contributors — Kathryn Fong ’05 and Green, who both competed at the 2003 NCAA Regionals, are still recovering from off-season wrist surgeries. The Bulldogs’ lineup is also lamenting the loss to injury of highly touted all-around competitor Jessica Tai ’07, to whom a bar skill — “the Tai” — is now attributed.

“[There are] four freshmen in [the lineup], and they have to take the brunt of the team total on their shoulders,” Tonry said. “Freshmen are not prepared for competition right after winter break.”

In addition to the injuries plaguing the Bulldogs, exam week and winter vacation offset the momentum built during preseason training. “Coming back from winter break was difficult, especially because we weren’t able to train hard during reading week or finals week, and then we had almost two weeks off,” Seltzer said.

With only a week of practice going into the meet, the repetitions needed for a successful outcome were in short supply, Brynne Kennedy ’06 said.

Although the team was disappointed with the outcome, the performances by freshmen Seltzer and Paul provided a bright spot. Seltzer said Paul’s strong routine on the bar was extremely important because it gave the Elis a strong start on their first event of the day. Tonry considers this season one of rebuilding, as the team also lost six seniors to graduation, but is confident about the direction of the team.

“We definitely have the talent … we’re on the road; as we go along we’ll get kids back into the lineup from injuries,” she said.

This week in practice, the Bulldogs were committed to shifting the season’s course in a positive direction, looking forward to this weekend’s competition against Towson University and Rutgers University at the Towson Center Arena. Tonry said that although the loss to Springfield was a shock to the entire team, it was nothing that could not be fixed.

“This week we really had to pick it up in practice, build endurance,” said Anne McPherson ’06, whose score of 9.025 on beam led the team.

The top priority is to increase consistency, Seltzer said.

“We have all the skills, we just need to make them cleaner; if somebody hadn’t taken a step on a landing, we would have won.”

Towson, which is coming off a win against Rhode Island in its first meet last Sunday, presents a challenge for the Bulldogs.

“[The team] is looking forward to their performances at Towson,” Tonry said. “We’re going to show them a whole different team.”

A Yale gymnast performs an aerial move during a floor routine at the ECAC tournament in March 2003. The team lost a close meet against Springfield after several poor performances on the beam, the last event of the day, Saturday at Blake Arena.
Cory Needle
A Yale gymnast performs an aerial move during a floor routine at the ECAC tournament in March 2003. The team lost a close meet against Springfield after several poor performances on the beam, the last event of the day, Saturday at Blake Arena.

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