Individuals shine at home meet

Swinging is one of the specialties of the women’s gymnastics team, and they definitely got back in the swing of things this week.

After a disappointing showing on bars and a second place finish behind Southern Connecticut in their season opener last week at Springfield College in Mass., the Bulldogs came back and posted a team total of 187.7, defeating both Bridgeport and Southern Conn. — who scored 185.675 and 183.125 respectively — in Sunday’s Nutmeg Classic.

The women's gymnastics team looked strong on the vault, and every other event, in its Saturday victory.
Han Xu
The women's gymnastics team looked strong on the vault, and every other event, in its Saturday victory.

At their first home meet of the season, the Bulldogs swept all four events, with Alina Liao ’09 receiving the all-around title and also winning floor and bars. Lauren Tatsuno ’09 won the vault event and Allison Mak ’10 placed first on beam.

The Bulldogs had a shaky start on bars in Massachusetts on Sunday Jan. 13. The team counted five falls at their last meet, so the Elis focused on strengthening that event in the past weekend’s competition. This Sunday’s success on bars contributed to the two-point increase in their team total. This was a significant improvement given that the Bulldogs lost to SCSU by only six-tenths of a point last weekend. Liao’s 9.55 on bars tied for first, and Sherry Yang ’11 came in third place with a 9.45.

“We definitely improved a lot,” Tatsuno said. “There were lots of problems on bars last week, but we only had to count one fall this weekend — that was the difference, and the big reason why we scored a lot higher this weekend.”

Tatsuno won the vault title with a 9.45, a score she said she was not expecting to be enough for a win.

“The scores weren’t incredibly high on vault, but I guess it’s all relative,” she said.

The team posted strong scores on beam, with Mak performing a new routine introduced this season and winning the event with a 9.775. She scored a 9.65 at Springfield College, in which she also won the beam event.

“I was trying to repeat what happened last weekend,” she said. “I really focused on not falling so that there wouldn’t be more pressure on the last person performing.”

The Elis’ performance on floor was another highlight of the competition for the home team. Liao won the last event with a 9.75, followed by Brigitte Kivisto ’10, who placed second with a 9.675. Kivisto also placed second in the all-around competition with a 38.0, right behind Liao’s winning score of 38.225.

Looking forward, team members said they are using this past weekend’s win to go into their Ivy League opener with confidence. The team said it will focus on cleaning up routines to improve consistency in preparation for their competition against Penn this weekend, the first of League competition.

“It’s really great to start out where we started,” captain Kristen Campbell ’08 said. “[A mid 180’s score] is an okay start and last week, we jumped a full two points, and hopefully, we’ll keep up the momentum and it’ll build up throughout the season.”

Several gymnasts said that in addition to starting Ivy competition, the team is mainly working toward the Ivy League championships at the end of the season. The exposure to other teams in the League throughout the season will prepare the Elis for their most important meet and give them the opportunity to experience their competition.

“The Ivies are a big deal, and the Ivy League meet is our biggest meet, so we’re aiming harder to build up to that point,” Yang said.

In addition, several Bulldogs said their main goal is to stay competitive, as injuries would cut into line-ups.

“We’re a small team so we’re hoping for no injuries this season. It could really put us back,” Mak said.

The team will be competing against Penn at a home meet this Saturday at the John J. Lee Amphitheater.

Campbell said competing at home helped the team perform well this weekend, and she hopes that it will lead to similar results at their next home game this upcoming weekend.

“It’s always nice to compete in front of a home crowd,” she said. “It’s an extra confidence boost to have your friends cheering for you, and being familiar with space is a really great thing.”

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