Gymnasts falter, end up third at Classic

Sometimes things just don’t go as planned.

Vying for their second straight Ivy Classic title, the women’s gymnastics team fell short on Sunday, finishing in third place with 187.675. Cornell took home the championship with a score of 188.25, just nudging out Penn’s 188.05. Brown, who hosted the meet, finished fourth with a score of 185.5. The Bulldogs have won four of the last six Ivy Classics and 14 in the event’s 30-year history, but lost this time around due to a combination of mistakes and dubious judging, several team members said.

While several Elis said they were disappointed with the team results, the Bulldogs did excel individually. Alina Liao ’09 nabbed first place in the important all-around competition with a 38.075 and teammate Kimberley So ’09 followed close behind in third. Miki Seltzer ’07 continued her string of excellent performances, earning a first-place finish on the floor with a score of 9.7 and a second place on the vault. Sarah Peterson ’07 posted a 9.55 on the uneven bars, good for third place.

But despite continuing to improve their performances and overall team scores throughout the season, the Bulldogs could not maintain their momentum this weekend, and some team members said they were taken by surprise.

“Going in, we’ve been consistently scoring higher than these teams,” said captain Anne McPherson ’06, who was all-around champion at the 2005 Ivy Classic. “We figured we would perform like that again.”

The Bulldogs had a rough start, though, beginning the meet with the most challenging event — the balance beam.

“Normally, we have momentum going into the beam, but it was harder today,” Seltzer said. “Starting on the hardest event is not a good way to start the meet.”

After the struggle on the beam, the Bulldogs picked up their intensity on floor and vault, hitting all their routines. Heading into their last event, the bars, the Elis still had a chance to make it two championships in a row.

“If we hit, we could have won,” Seltzer said. “We were only behind .575 points from Cornell.”

But the Bulldogs were unable to capitalize on the uneven bars rotation. Suchitra Paul ’07 and Laura Lombardi ’08 had to take extra swings after losing too much momentum during their routines, and McPherson fell on her turn, although the Elis did not count her score.

Lauren Tatsuno ’09 said a combination of factors led to her team’s unfavorable finish, including evaluations that she said she considered questionable.

“The judging was sketchy, so that wasn’t really a confidence boost,” she said.

Liao echoed Tatsuno’s complaint, but said that if the Bulldogs had had cleaner routines to begin with, there would have been less for the judges to criticize.

“We got lower scores for better routines compared to other teams, but we need to get rid of mistakes so it’s not possible for judges to rip us off,” Liao said.

The Bulldogs will return to Rhode Island next Friday to face the University of Rhode Island and Temple, and said they hope to produce better results then.

Looking even further ahead, the ECAC championships on March 26 will give the Bulldogs a chance for revenge. Many of the Ivy League teams will be there, including both teams that topped the Elis this weekend.

“Our goal is to redeem ourselves from Ivies,” Tatsuno said.

Alina Liao ’09 competes in the floor exercise Feb. 18. Liao won the all-around competition at the Ivy Classic this weekend, but the Elis only managed third.
Robin Swartout
Alina Liao ’09 competes in the floor exercise Feb. 18. Liao won the all-around competition at the Ivy Classic this weekend, but the Elis only managed third.

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