At this point in the season, gymnastics isn’t just about hitting routines. Presentation becomes just as important as athletic skill, and having a smile on your face can make the difference between winning and losing.
With these principles in mind, the women’s gymnastics team delivered strong performances across the board in front of an energetic crowd Saturday, beating the University of Rhode Island at John J. Lee Amphitheater. The Elis continued to improve their team score and posted a season-high mark of 190.350, easily surpassing the Rams’ 187.900 points. Alina Liao ’09 earned the highest award in the all-around event with a score of 38.125. The Bulldogs only recorded one fall, which marks their most consistent performance this season.
The Elis took the lead immediately with a strong vault rotation. Miki Seltzer ’07 continued her stream of steady performances and posted the meet’s highest vault score with a 9.725. After a weaker bars rotation, though, the Elis were only ahead by 0.425.
But the team capitalized on its beam and floor exercises to solidify its victory over the Rams. Particularly noteworthy was Seltzer’s performance on the floor, which earned a 9.8, the meet’s highest score in any event. Liao came in second, right behind Seltzer with a 9.725.
Team members said they were particularly pleased with the victory because URI is in the same region as the Elis and ranked only one spot below them. After losing to the Rams earlier in the year, the Bulldogs said they were confident going into the meet that their improvements over the season would clinch them the victory this time around.
“There was a lot of pressure for us to step it up and prove that we could beat them,” Seltzer said. “This time we really put it out there and didn’t hold anything back. And we figured out that that works for us and we need to do it again.”
While some gymnasts said the meet exceeded the Bulldogs’ expectations, not everyone was happy at its close. Captain Anne McPherson ’06 would have been competing in the last home meet of her Yale career, but her hopes were dashed by a recent injury to her knee.
“It was good to end on a high note, but personally, it was sad not to compete,” she said.
McPherson and fellow senior Brynne Kennedy ’06 were honored at the end of the meet.
“It’s definitely bittersweet,” Kennedy said of ending her career at Yale.
But the Bulldogs’ season is not done yet. On the contrary, next weekend’s Ivy Classic at Providence, R.I., will be their most important meet of the season. As the defending champions, team members said they hope to make it two in a row.
“There’s a little bit of pressure,” Kennedy said. “But our team looks better this year than it ever has.”
Kennedy and Seltzer said the Ivy League Championship comes down to tenths of points, so team members will concentrate on perfecting their routines this week in practice.
“Our big goal is to look at the little things — presentation, pointed toes, looking like you’re having fun, basically the little things that make gymnastics look a lot better,” Seltzer said. “That will put us above the rest.”
The Bulldogs said the meet against URI served as a confidence booster for next weekend and that they hope to maintain their momentum to win another Ivy League Championship.