Last-minute falls cost gymnasts Ivy title

For the Bulldogs, two falls made the difference between being Ivy League champions and coming in third.

In an extremely close meet at the Ivy Classic, the Yale gymnastics team came in third with 190.55 points, only half a tenth behind second-place Cornell and one point behind host Penn, which won the meet. Although the team broke 190 points and scored a season-high overall total, team members said they were disappointed because they could have won the meet.

Yale gymnast Allison Mak ’10 takes to the balance beam during Yale’s 187.8-187.775 nail-biter against Rhode Island at Lee Amphitheater on Feb. 17.
Gang Chen
Yale gymnast Allison Mak ’10 takes to the balance beam during Yale’s 187.8-187.775 nail-biter against Rhode Island at Lee Amphitheater on Feb. 17.

“If it was any meet other than Ivies, it would have been different,” Jessica Tai ’07 said. “It’s a bummer because we had a really bad last event and that made all the difference.”

The team started on the floor event, rotated through the vault and the uneven bars, and finished off on the beam. Although beam can be its strongest event, the team had to count two falls, which cost it two half-point deductions, lost bonus points and, ultimately, the Ivy title.

Team members attributed the falls to the pressure of competing on the last rotation and knowing that their performances would either make or break the overall results. The momentum from their successes in the previous three events seemed to disappear after the first fall on beam. It became somewhat of a “domino effect,” resulting in falls from the Bulldogs who followed, captain Sarah Peterson ’07 said.

“If everyone hit, we really could have capitalized and taken advantage of that because beam could have been our strongest event,” Tai said. “It’s nerve-wracking though, and beam is [the] hardest event to compete in under a high pressure environment like a close Ivy meet.”

Despite the tough loss, the Bulldogs gave very strong individual performances, turned out a team-best score on the vault and significantly improved on bars. On vault, Yale posted a 48.200, led by a second-place finish from Miki Seltzer ’07. Seltzer’s 9.775 came only behind Brown’s Alicia Sacramone, who won the bronze medal in the same event at the 2005 World Championships.

The team has been struggling to improve its performance on the uneven bars throughout the season, and this weekend its efforts in practice finally paid off. The Elis highlighted their new consistency in the event by improving difficulty levels and giving solid performances in the first five of the six routines.

“We were pretty disappointed by beam, but we’re very happy with the other three events,” Jessica Blick ’07 said. “Vault was especially strong, and we showed lots of improvement on floor and bars, which we normally struggle with.”

The Bulldogs were not able to come away with the Ivy title this year, but they will have another chance to face Penn, Cornell and Brown at the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) championships at the end of March. Although there will be no official rings or titles, the team looks forward for a rematch against their Ancient Eight rivals.

“We want to put Ivies behind us and go back to do better and build towards that title again,” Lauren Tatsuno ’09 said. “All the teams have been really close in scoring, and we know that if we put it all together and hit on the same day, we’ll be able to beat them.”

The Bulldogs will be competing against Brown this Saturday at the John J. Lee Amphitheater, and will hold a ceremony to honor the seniors at the last home meet of their Yale careers.

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