Without the support of their fellow Elis, the four members of the women’s gymnastics team competing at the NCAA Northeast Regional Championships could have had a tough time this weekend. But Kimberley So ’09, Alina Liao ’09, Lauren Tatsuno ’09 and Miki Seltzer ’07 excelled even without the encouragement of their teammates and left Ann Arbor, Mich., pleased with their performances.
And they have every right to be. In the all-around competition, So finished in 10th place with a score of 38.375, one of her highest this year. The highlight of So’s performance was her balance beam routine, which earned a 9.650. Liao, who also competed in the all-around, placed 15th with a score of 37.575. She mirrored So’s strong routine on the balance beam, posting a 9.75, along with a 9.70 in the floor exercise.
Tatsuno continued the Bulldogs’ strong balance beam performances by scoring a 9.70 to finish in the top 15 for the event. Seltzer posted a 9.735 in the vault, which earned her a top-10 finish, and she also competed in the floor exercise. Her score of 9.650 was good for a top-15 finish in that event.
Competing against the top gymnastics schools in the country, including Utah and Michigan, team members said the NCAA Regionals could have been a letdown. The gymnasts’ final team showing, a fourth-place finish at the ECAC Championships on March 25, proved a disappointing end to the Bulldogs’ season.
But team members said the NCAA Regionals gave them a chance to prove their worth to the highest tier of gymnastics competition.
“A lot of schools discount Yale gymnastics and assume we’re not competitive with all the scholarship schools,” Tatsuno said. “Our goal was just to go there and represent Yale well, and we did our job.”
Since the Bulldogs were competing individually, each gymnast joined another school’s rotation and competed as its seventh person. Yale head coach Barbara Tonry said competing after some of the best gymnasts could have been detrimental for the Elis’ confidence, but the Bulldogs showed their true colors and matched the high level of competition. Seltzer said the atmosphere and energy at Crisler Arena, a University of Michigan facility, fueled their performances.
“Being with that type of gymnastics and that high caliber of teams, it was more motivating than intimidating,” Seltzer said.
Tatsuno also said she did not feel the same pressure that she had during the regular season meets because the Bulldogs did not have a chance to advance to the NCAA finals.
Team members said the other schools were very supportive when they performed.
“All the teams were very gracious and comforting,” Tonry said.
Echoing Tonry’s sentiments, Seltzer, who joined the University of New Hampshire’s rotation, said she felt by the end of the meet as if she had become a part of the Wildcats’ team. Seltzer also said comparing her own gymnastics to the high-caliber routines performed at Regionals made her more confident in her team’s ability in the future.
“I was looking at all their skills, and to be honest, their skills are not more difficult than ours,” she said. “Realizing that our talent is up there is really motivating for us.”
With their season complete, the Bulldogs have much to look forward to next season, with all four of the NCAA Regionals attendees returning next winter. But next time, the foursome looks to bring its teammates along.