Yale gymnastics started its season strong with a second place finish at its first meet of the season on Sunday at the University of Rhode Island.
The University of New Hampshire won the event with 190.125 points, while Yale had 185.900 and URI trailed with 184.100. In the four-event meet, gymnasts competed in the vault, uneven bars, beam and floor exercises. Each school can enter up to six gymnasts in each event, but only the top five results are added to the team’s cumulative score.
Yale’s strong suits were the vault and the bars in the meet, where no gymnast scored lower than 9.200 and 9.125, respectively. While UNH consistently had the high score in each event, the Wildcats’ dominance did not ruin the Bulldogs’ day.
“I’m really happy with our performance,” said team captain Christine Lacy ’05.
Lacy holds the school record on the vault with a 9.800 and was a member of the 2003 Ivy Classic-winning team. She said the team felt doubly satisfied in beating the Rams because URI offers full scholarships to athletes, while Yale does not.
Lacy mentioned that the freshmen on the team contributed heavily to the Elis’ success.
“It is great to have some really talented freshmen, and it’s always a test at the first meet to see how they compete,” she said. “They’ve really impressed us, but the nerves are definitely there.”
Yale started two freshmen in the event, Kristin Campbell and Cynthia Leung. Campbell led the Bulldogs in two out of the four events on the way to earning third place individually with a score of 37.300.
“I think I did pretty well,” Campbell said, adding that it is still early in the season. “I’m hoping to continue to improve — these are pretty good scores for the start of season.”
Head coach Barbara Tonry said the transition between pre-college meets and collegiate meets can be a rocky one. In college, teams travel to meets every weekend, as opposed to once or twice a month for clubs, she said. Tonry also noted that collegiate gymnastics places a heavier emphasis on consistency, as the team scores from the six best meets count toward qualifying for the Eastern College Athletic Conference championships. Club gymnasts need only one good meet all season to qualify for regionals or nationals.
“They did an excellent job for us,” Tonry said of the freshmen. “For their first competition, they did well.”
Tonry was also impressed with the rest of the team’s performance.
“The team didn’t feel quite ready, but they did a darn good job considering that,” she said. “It shows me that we have the talent to have an exceptional year — I’m just hoping that we can maintain.”
One thing the Elis will have to hold out against is injury. Ankles and knees are the focal points for the torque of the spins and jumps that define gymnastics, so sprains are common, Tonry said. Already, the Bulldogs have lost a gymnast to a season-ending ankle injury.
Lacy said that this aspect of the sport heightens the team’s cohesion.
“Everyone has to be ready at every event,” she said. “We never know who is going to get injured.”
The Bulldogs are already looking forward to the Ivy League Championsips.
“Right now our main focus is on Ivy League,” Tonry said. “I have faith that this team will be one of the best contenders for the Ivy title.”
She stressed the importance of the confidence in achieving that goal.
“I have to make them believe that they are that good,” she said, “and they are starting to understand that.”