The Bulldog gymnasts saw individual success and team improvement this past weekend as half the Ancient Eight faced off at the Ivy Classic.
In her final career league performance, Alina Liao ’09 became the Ivy Classic Champion for the third time in her four years at Yale. The gymnastics team placed fourth as a whole with 185.200, while Cornell won the team championship with a score of 190.800.
“I was really happy to end my career like this, finishing on my last leg with a good win,” Liao said. “I just wanted to do what I could for my team — it was pretty exciting to end that way.”
For the first time in several weeks, the team managed to field five gymnasts in each event. In gymnastics, teams are allowed to enter up to six competitors in each event, and the five top scores are counted towards the team total. Yale has had to factor in a zero to its team scores in past weeks, but even with five gymnasts, they are at a disadvantage.
“The Ivies – it’s one of biggest meets of the season in terms of what is at stake,” Lauren Tatsuno ’09 said. “In the past two years we’ve always had a chance of winning it, but the scores this year weren’t as close as they had been.”
She added: “We wanted to do the best we could do. One of the things is not to concentrate on what everyone else is doing but to concentrate on our performance.”
Competition opened on the bars with Margaret Greenberg ’12 earning a 7.95. Sarah Hughes ’09 followed with strong 9.15 and a perfect Tkatchev release move. Claude de Jocas ’12 followed with an 8.65; Allison Mak ’09, a 9.55 and sixth place. Liao, in her first event of the day, scored a 9.7 and third place.
“Allison has been hitting her routines — that’s really helping to boost the bars score,” Greenberg said. “Alina was solid on bars as usual, and Sarah caught her really, really nice routine. If we can just get Claude and me hitting our routines we will be able to raise the score even more.”
Hughes opened on the beam with a career high 9.375. Sherry Yang ’11 (9.175) and Brigitte Kivisto ’10 (8.975) each fell during their routines. Mak and Liao ended the series with a 9.625 and 9.775, respectively. Mak placed third, and Liao took first in a flawless routine.
For only the second weekend this season, Mak began the floor competition with a double pike and earned a 9.2. Yang managed to hold onto a 9.125 despite throwing her hands down on her first tumbling, an automatic 0.5-point deduction. Hughes earned a 9.4, and Kivisto — coming back from injuries — returned with a 9.725 and second place. Liao earned a 9.7 with a routine that was nearly flawless, with the exception of a step out of bounds, an immediate .1-point deduction.
Vault was the fourth and final event of the day. Micaline Tomeo ’09 led off with an 8.95 off a tucked Tsukahara. Yang and Hughes followed with a 9.225 and 8.875, respectively. Each performed a pike Yurchenko. Mak placed sixth with a 9.525 layout Yurchenko, and Liao’s 9.55 took fifth.
“We just want to keep letting everyone take care of bodies and improve hitting routines and getting consistent,” Greenberg added.
Cornell, who successfully defended their 2008 title, took first place in the Ivy Classic. Brown and Penn universities placed second and third, respectively, with a 188.400 and 187.325, respectively. The four teams that competed are the only Ivy League schools with gymnastics teams.
“We were able to be competitive,” Liao said. “We had our best meet yet with really, really incredible performances. Three people up on the podium in the all around and everyone had really great heart.”
Liao took first place with a 38.725. Penn’s Jordan Brewer (38.075) was the runner-up. Mak’s career high of 37.9 placed third. Hughes’s career high of 36.8 earned her sixth place.
“The placement doesn’t reflect how well we did relative to how we’ve been doing,” Tatsuno explained. “Considering what we’ve been through, I think the weekend was a small victory for some people and there were definitely some good things.”
The Bulldogs will continue competition this Saturday against the Towson Tigers, last season’s ECAC champions. The competition starts at 7 p.m in Towson, Md.