Gymnasts take second at Ivy Championships

At their biggest meet of the season, the gymnasts settled for second. Cornell won the Ivy League Championship with a 191.8, Yale placed second with a 189.05, and Penn (188.025) and Brown (186.725) brought up the rear in third and fourth place, respectively.

“We’re a little disappointed we couldn’t pull out the Ivy Championship win,” Lauren Tatsuno ’09 said. “But we couldn’t really ask for that much more — despite some mistakes, we definitely did some good things.”

Lauren Tatsuno ’09 competes on the beam during a meet with Penn on Jan. 26. Tatsuno’s teammate, Alina Liao ’09, claimed her second individual Ivy League title in the last three years this past weekend.
Ge Yang
Lauren Tatsuno ’09 competes on the beam during a meet with Penn on Jan. 26. Tatsuno’s teammate, Alina Liao ’09, claimed her second individual Ivy League title in the last three years this past weekend.

Second-place finish aside — with which team members said they were not terribly happy but not too disappointed — the Bulldogs posted excellent scores in several individual performances, highlighted by Alina Liao ’09 winning the Ivy League all-around title for the second time in her college career.

“I wasn’t focusing on regaining the title, because I didn’t know how the other girls were standing, so it was really exciting for me,” Liao said. “The only thing I could control was how I performed, so I wanted to take it one event at a time, and for each event, one move at a time.”

Liao won the Ivy League title during her freshman year, but lost to Brown’s Alicia Sacramone last year. Sacramone, who is the current U.S. National Champion on vault and a seven-time medalist at the World Championships, has gone professional since competing with Brown last year, forfeiting her NCAA eligibility for this season and her remaining years with the Bears.

At this year’s Ivies, Liao also won the floor and beam events, the latter of which was swept by the Yale team. Laura Lombardi ’08 finished second, followed by Allison Mak ’10 and Lauren Tatsuno ’09 tied for third place.

The Bulldogs posted a season-high score as a team on vault, which helped them get off to a strong start. Liao placed third with 9.7, with Mak contributing a career high of 9.65. Brigitte Kivisto ’10 and Tatsuno followed with a 9.575 and 9.525, respectively, and Lombardi posted a season high of 9.325.

But these strong individual performances were not enough to overcome the total numbers put up by Cornell. Team members said the Big Red was favored to win because the team has almost twice as many gymnasts as the other Ivies, but the Bulldogs thought they would be able to come close — and maybe even beat — the larger team.

“We tried to challenge them, and we thought we would have given them more of a run for their money,” Tatsuno said. “Seeing them win by that large of a margin was kind of disappointing.”

“We didn’t expect them to win by that much,” Liao added. “We thought it’d be close overall, but they had a really great meet, and we didn’t have the meet that we wanted.”

The Elis acknowledged that the Big Red had a very good meet in which they hit routines and gave solid performances throughout.

The fact that the Bulldogs were not able to similarly perform at full potential prevented them from taking the title.

“We had two major mistakes on every event except vault, so we had to count a lower score on each of those events,” Tatsuno explained. “That made the difference.”

The Elis were aiming to win, and team members said they knew they would have had the chance to if they had hit all 24 of their routines — six performances on each of the four events. In the past, the team has been able to give six solid performances on different events at different meets, and the challenge of the Ivies was to put it all together for the season’s biggest meet.

The Bulldogs also dealt with numerous injuries, both recent and chronic. But despite the injuries, team members said the Bulldogs were boosted by teammates who stepped up and pushed through injuries, especially Sarah Hughes ’09 and Sherry Yang ’11, who both gave strong performances given their injuries.

“We did very well with what we had, considering the size of the other teams, and the injuries on our team,” Tatsuno said. “We did a lot better than what our expectations were at the beginning of the year, so that was really great.”

Team members said they found it a bit odd that they’ve already competed at their biggest meet of the season with barely half of the season completed, but now the Bulldogs are looking towards another big competition: the East Coast Athletic Conference Championships. There, they will once again compete against Ivy League rivals, along with other schools like Towson University, which has won the competition for the past three years.

“We have another big meet to look forward to, and in the mean time, we’ll take a step back to look at our progress so far and try to keep focused on the big picture to see what we can do to keep improving,” Liao said.

After a break in the upcoming weekend, one that team members said is much-needed after a grueling week of practice before Ivies this past weekend, the Bulldogs will travel to Kingston, R.I., two weeks from now to compete in a tri-meet against Rhode Island and MIT.

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