The Yale gymnastics team overcame uneven performances to defeat Springfield College in their season opener.
Despite several falls on the beam, the Elis’ floor performances were strong enough to power the team past the Division III Pride last Sunday, 175.875–171.150. The result was similar to the Bulldogs’ matchup against Springfield the previous year in which the Bulldogs also came out on top, 188.925–183.000. Stephanie Goldstein ’13, winner of the all-around competition (35.350), attributed the difference in scoring between years to the early timing of the meet. Last year, the Bulldogs faced the Pride in the middle of their season in February.
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“The team showed great potential; there’s definitely room for improvement,” Tara Feld ’13 said. “But the Springfield meet was a great starting point for the season.”
Due to the early nature of the meet, Goldstein said some routines were “watered-down” and missing requirements that would have given them higher start values. If last year’s team is any indication, that in-competition experience is vital, as the team average rose almost three points between January and March of last season.
But the team scores were still more than ten points below last year’s lowest outing, surprising the team and their coaches. Members of the team attributed the lower score to the harsher standards of the meet’s judges as the margin of victory was consistent with last year.
“Overall, our team is starting off on a much stronger note this year,” Lyndsay Andsager ’13 said. She took first in the uneven parallel bars with a score of 9.350.
Feld, who took the all-around competition against Springfield last year as a freshman, and set a Yale vault record of 9.850 against Penn, saw her numbers dip on the vault in the first outing.
“Coming back from an injury this summer, I wasn’t sure if I would even be able to compete this early in the season,” the two-time ECAC rookie of the week said.
For a team composed of only 11 people, the Elis depended on strong performances from its freshmen as Springfield College fielded a team of 18. Maren Hopkins ’14 was fifth on the vault with 9.050, Nicole Tay ’14 was second on the uneven parallel bars with 8.550, and Tabitha Tay ’14 finished fourth on the floor with 9.225.
“[The] first competition was a completely new experience for me,” said Hopkins, “The biggest difference with college gymnastics is the energy of the meets and the emphasis on the team rather than the individual.”
According to her teammates, they didn’t take much time to adjust.
“All the freshmen really stepped up. Even though they’ve never competed at the college level, they looked experienced. I was impressed with their maturity,” said captain Sherry Yang ’11.
All Yale gymnasts interviewed emphasized that the team has great chemistry this year. Goldstein credited her teammates with providing a more relaxed and supportive atmosphere, improving her consistency. After just one meet this season, Feld also noted the team’s cohesiveness.
“We are definitely starting off on the right foot in terms of team spirit and attitude,” Feld said.
The team will return to competition at Ithaca College this Saturday at 7 p.m.