Gymnasts vault to Ivy title

For the seniors on the women’s gymnastics team, Saturday provided fitting closure.

In the final home meet of the season, Yale defeated Brown, Cornell and Penn with a season-high 191.525 points to claim its second Ivy Classic title in three years, a welcome gift to the team’s departing members.

In addition, the Bulldogs won the individual all-around competition, with Anne McPherson ’06 taking first for the fourth time this season with a score of 38.675. McPherson beat out Brown’s Amber Smith by 1.3 points, more than tripling her winning margin of .4 over Smith from their first meeting Jan. 29.

McPherson was able to hit on all cylinders to garner the victory.

“Everything finally came together, and I hit everything really well,” McPherson said. “I just had a really good day. I was ‘on’ on everything.”

The rest of the team followed McPherson’s example. Yale had the high score in every event except vault and swept first through fifth in floor. With a significant 2.45 point gap between them and second-place Cornell, the Elis added another accolade to an already successful season — to date, Yale has a 5-1 record and the third-highest team score average in the Eastern College Athletic Conference.

Since Penn has a similar season average to Yale, many Bulldog gymnasts expected the meet to be a closer decision.

“We thought it was going to come down to only a few tenths,” said team captain Christine Lacy ’05. “To win so decisively made it that much better. We had our best meet by far.”

According to Lacy, who posted a 9.7 in floor and a 9.5 on vault, the toughest parts of the meet for Yale were the beam and uneven bars at the beginning.

“Bars and beam are more nerve-wracking than floor and vault,” she said.

In the uneven bars, all five scores were above 9.5, with Kathryn Fong ’05 winning the event for the third time in a row with a 9.85. The Bulldogs ran into trouble on the balance beam, as the first two Eli gymnasts fell during their routines. However, the next four gymnasts hit, sparking a strong performance in vault, led by a 9.6 performance by Miki Seltzer ’07, and utter dominance on the floor exercise.

Many Elis cited the home crowd as an inspiration.

“We don’t normally get huge crowds, but a home crowd like in any other sport is great and always an advantage,” said Fong. “I got the sense that the crowd was very excited. I think it was a huge help.”

Along with team alumni, many of the gymnasts’ parents were present for the meet. The gymnasts said experiencing the win in front of this crowd made the victory sweeter.

“Winning an Ivy Championship is a feeling unlike anything else in the world — something you’ll never forget,” said Fong. “Being able to experience that in front of family, friends and alumni made it so much more special to end it at home.”

Starting next weekend, the Bulldogs will close their season with trips to invitationals in Maryland, the District of Columbia and Florida. In each of these meets, the Bulldogs expect stiff competition. The Elis said they feel that winning the Ivy title has helped prepare them for the challenges ahead.

“[Winning the title] just improves our gymnastics even more,” said McPherson. “It makes you want to go in and work even harder.”

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