Although the Yale gymnastics team posted their best overall score of the season at Penn Saturday afternoon, it still fell short of winning.
Penn shut Yale out of the top three spots in the uneven parallel bars and the floor exercise. Tara Feld ’13 took first in the vault with a score of 9.750 and third in the balance beam with 9.350. She led Yale with a 37.800 score in the all-around, good for second place. But it was not enough as the Bulldogs fell 181.000–187.200 to the Quakers.
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This year’s result is the opposite of last season, when Yale defeated Penn in their first match. At that meet, Feld set the school-record on vault with a score of 9.850, but later in the season, the Elis then lost to the Quakers at the Ivy Classic. At the ECAC Championship, they placed immediately behind Penn, who took fifth.
Nonetheless, with their regular Ivy League season under way, the team is taking as many positives out of the match as possible. Members of the team emphasized their continued growth.
“I think this weekend’s performance was a great improvement over the meet at Ithaca, even more than was indicated in the scores,” Stephanie Goldstein ’13 said.
Like in their meet against Ithaca College, team size continued to be an issue against Penn. The Elis only have 10 people on their roster after the departure of Monica Shoji ’12, compared to the Quakers’ roster of 19. Feld said that because of that size discrepancy, it was imperative that everyone hit their routines like they had been in practice.
Nicole Tay ’14, who contributed in every event in the previous two matches, was limited to just the uneven parallel bars at Penn, due to a tweaked ankle that she suffered in practice.
“We aren’t a huge team, and we want to save gymnasts for more important meets later in the season,” captain Sherry Yang ’11 said.
She mentioned the Ivy League and ECAC Championships as those important meets, the success of which determines the tenor of their off-season training and recruiting.
Ashley O’Connor ’14 helped share the load and competed in her first collegiate competition after coming back from injury and surgery. O’Connor scored 8.325 on the balance beam, placing tenth out of twelve competitors in an event that may have been a point of contention between the Elis and the judges. Goldstein said that the judging in the event was harsh.
“The judges were conservative, assuming mistakes that, when we reviewed the tape frame by frame, we could not see,” Yang explained.
She added that the mistakes the judges saw may have been slight wobbles on the landings, affecting the perceived number of connections on the beam, and decreasing the value of their scores.
Despite the loss, the team has been steadily improving their overall score, 175.875 to 179.500 to 181.000. They hope to continue that trend coming into February, when they will have a stretch of three home competitions back-to-back. The team expressed their excitement at the prospect of competing at home.
“Just knowing that all of your friends and family are watching and cheering you on makes the meet that much more fun,” Feld said. “We get to use our own equipment at home meets … so we should all feel more comfortable doing our routines.”
The home stretch begins this Sunday at 2 p.m., when Rutgers and Ithaca College visit Payne Whitney.