Gymnastics rolls past Conn. rivals

Despite a series of unfortunate incidents last week, the Bulldogs turned their luck around and emerged victorious from a competition with two local teams.

With a final score of 187.075, the gymnastics team triumphed against host Southern Connecticut (183.5) and Bridgeport (179.325) at a tri-meet this Saturday. Last week, the team dealt with multiple setbacks, including captain Sarah Peterson’s serious elbow injury and lack of practice due to a breakdown of the uneven bars apparatus. The team’s impressive overall performance this week was a result of each individual giving her strongest performance of the season, team members said.

“It was very nice to win, and we improved our team score a lot compared to last week,” Jessica Blick ’07 said. “Bars was definitely our biggest improvement — we got two more points on just that event alone, so that was really great.”

The vault, balance beam and floor events showed the depth of the Bulldogs’ talent, with sweeps across the board in those events. Miki Seltzer ’07 won the vault event, while Jessica Tai ’07 and Lauren Tatsuno ’09 followed close behind in second and third place, respectively. Seltzer also won the floor event with an impressive score of 9.825. Alina Liao ’09 won the all-around competition by placing in the top three on the uneven bars, beam, and floor events.

The competition was not as tough as usual since Bridgeport and Southern Connecticut do not field Division I programs, but the Elis saw this meet as an opportunity to work on their individual performances.

“The meet wasn’t really important in that they weren’t Ivy teams, but it was a great chance for us to gain experience at competing,” Tai said. “We want to use each meet as a stepping stone, so that we can improve at each one and see what needs to be fixed.”

A fall during practice the day before the competition caused some difficulties in the lineups. Brigitte Kivisto ’10 injured her neck and was unable to compete this weekend, leading other team members to perform routines in events in which they usually do not compete.

Though they were concerned about maintaining a deep lineup, team members said that each individual picked up the slack and was able to add to a strong overall team performance.

“We pulled it together after not having the best last week or two, and it felt great to have a win under our belts,” Tai said. “It’s great to have that momentum, and hopefully we can keep that up for the weeks leading up to Ivies.”

This meet also featured a reunion between the Bulldogs and Byron Knox, the head coach of the Bridgeport team. Earlier in the season, Knox had stepped in as a temporary coach to the Yale team after its assistant coach had to leave due to health problems. Team members said they were happy to see Knox.

“Byron is a really nice guy and good coach, so it was just friendly interaction between us,” Seltzer said. “We wished each other luck, and he even gave pointers to some of the girls.”

The team will focus on perfecting the details of its routines in order to strengthen its performance and improve consistency. In the uneven bars event, team members said they will be adding skills to their routines in order to increase difficulty, resulting in higher start values and hopefully better overall scores.

The Bulldogs will be competing against Pittsburgh and Brockport at Rutgers this weekend.

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