Strong beam and floor performances not enough for Eli win

At their last home meet of the season, the women’s gymnastics team lost a close competition to Rutgers this past weekend on Senior Day.

Despite a strong Eli performance at the end, the Scarlet Knights narrowly won the meet, 188.25 to 188.20. Team members said they were disappointed with the loss especially because of the close margin. In addition, Rutgers had been ranked above Yale in previous years, but coming into this meet, the Bulldogs have been ranked above the Scarlet Knights. The Elis were disappointed that they had the potential to beat their rivals, but ended up losing so closely, team members said.

Despite the disappointing loss, the final score still gave the Bulldogs confidence, Allison Mak ’10 said.

“It was a tough loss, but it just goes to show that we’re comparable to Rutgers because we were able to come so close,” she explained. “Compared to our rankings from last season, it’s really good for us to be at this level going into Ivies.”

Contributing to the tough loss was the team’s performance on bars. The event has been a struggle for the Bulldogs throughout the season, but the team had consistently been improving on the bars over the past few weeks. But after lineup changes this weekend due to injuries, the team had to count two falls, which made it particularly tough for the Elis to bounce back against the visitors.

“We were counting falls at our early meets, but we started stepping up and looking stronger,” Mak said. “The lineup changes threw us off a little bit, but we have more depth on bars at this point in this season than we did earlier — we were able to replace people rather than competing short.”

Contributing to that depth was Sarah Hughes ’09, who stepped up and competed on bars for the first time at Yale, adding a performance that impressed her teammates. In addition, Brigitte Kivisto ’10 scored a fourth place 9.525, while Alina Liao ’09 gave a strong performance as well, winning the event with a 9.725.

After a shaky start on bars and vault, which are the team’s weaker events, the Bulldogs knew they had to bring it back with their best on beam and floor.

“We were down by a couple points after the first half, which is expected because those are our weaker events, but bars was a struggle so we knew we had to do even better than we usually do and perform what we’re capable of,” Lauren Tatsuno ’09 said.

With the added pressure of depending on the latter two events to pull them through, the home team did well on beam and floor. The Elis excelled on beam, hitting all six of their routines without major mistakes, contributing their top five scores to the point total. Mak earned a 9.55, while Kivisto and Laura Lombardi ’08 added a 9.625 and 9.65, respectively. Tatsuno’s 9.675 and Liao’s 9.725 led the Bulldogs’ score, placing them in fourth and second, respectively.

Tatsuno said beam is an unusual event for a team to have as their best performance, and having the event to depend on was an added bonus.

“We know that beam is our strongest when we put it together and hit our routines, and as long as we do that, we know we can score pretty high,” she said. “The best thing about hitting six for six is that we can keep the momentum going throughout the entire lineup, and there’s no chance for momentum to be broken with falls.”

The team continued the momentum from beam and also ended on a strong note on the floor event. Captain Kristin Campbell ’08 earned a 9.575, while Kivisto’s 9.675 and Tatsuno’s 9.65 put the Bulldogs into first and second place on their last event.

This weekend’s meet was also Senior Day, marking the seniors’ last meet at John J. Lee Amphitheater. Many family members and friends were in the stands to support the team, and a large group of children in the crowd cheered on the Elis as part of Youth Day, adding a new energy to the home crowd atmosphere.

“It was bittersweet because it was our last meet at home, but it was also really great because a lot of people came out to support the seniors,” said Cynthia Leung ’08, who competed on bars.

Going into this season, the Bulldogs thought the small size of their team would pose challenges, but Tatsuno said the season has gone surprisingly well.

“We came in wanting to do the best we can with what we had, but from the beginning, we’ve done a lot better than we expected, which has given us a lot of confidence,” she said.

The Bulldogs hope this confidence will add to their skill level so that they will be able to perform at full potential this weekend at the Ivy League Classic, their biggest meet of the season. Team members said they will be focusing on consistency in practice this weekend, in addition to resting injuries so the team can perform at full potential next weekend.

“By focusing on being consistent and going in a lot of confidence, we’ll be able to perform well because we know we have the skill level to win Ivies, so it’s just a matter of hitting every routine that day,” Tatsuno said.

“We really have a shot at winning this season if we can pull everything together. We’ve come close to, but haven’t actually performed at our absolute best,” she added. “There have been a couple mistakes at every meet, but they’re things we can fix, so we know we can score even higher than our season high at last home meet.”

Mak said the team considered this weekend’s meet as a step on the way towards the Ivies next weekend. For the Bulldogs, this weekend was an opportunity for the team to figure out lineups and analyze start values one last time before the upcoming meet.

The Bulldogs will travel to Cornell to compete in the Ivy League Classic this Sunday.

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