GYMNASTICS | Injured Elis fall to Owls

The gymnastics team finished second out of three teams in the Bulldog Invitational.
The gymnastics team finished second out of three teams in the Bulldog Invitational. Photo by Jennifer Cheung.

An injured Yale squad placed second in Saturday’s Bulldog Invitational, finishing ahead of Springfield but behind Temple. The Owls controlled the top spots in each category, finishing with a team score of 191.600, while the Pride fell behind to end at 178.950.

This Saturday’s team score of 184.350 represents a break in the Eli’s upward scoring trend, which saw Yale score 184.975 last week. Still, it was an impressive score considering that all-rounder Tara Feld ’13 sat out the event with an injury.

“We were really crippled going into this meet,” head coach Barbara Tonry said, referencing the loss of all-rounder Feld to an abdominal muscle tear, and Nicole Tay’s ’14 restriction to the bars and beam due to an ankle sprain. Feld revealed that she is extremely limited in practice and, though she does not know when she will return to competition, does feel that the tear is healing. Tay has also been cleared by a doctor to return to tumbling and hopes to return to the floor exercise this Saturday.

“I have to limit any large impact on my ankle,” she said. “In addition, I have to land all my dismounts on softer and thicker mats. My ankle still throbs if I do too much tumbling.”

These injuries meant that the Elis could not fill all of the positions and were in jeopardy of taking a “0,” an unpleasant position Coach Tonry revealed the team was forced into two years ago. Fortunately, this year Lindsay Andsager ’13 and Ashley O’Connor ’14 were available to step up and fill the void left by Feld, Yale’s record-holder on the vault. O’Connor, who is recovering from injury herself, had very little time to devise a routine for the balance beam that would meet all of the requirements.

“Thursday is when I actually got on the beam, and right away had to produce a new beam routine,” O’Connor said. She managed to place in the middle of the competition despite only one full day’s preparation, while Andsager, competing on the floor for the first time in her Yale career, scored an 8.925. “I was so proud of everyone who stepped up to fill in for me. It’s difficult to suddenly be told you are going to compete in an event only a day or two before the competition, but they were able to get themselves ready and did a great job,” Feld said.

Those gymnasts who had more time to prepare included Talis Trevino ’12, who scored a season-high 9.725 in Yale’s best finish of the day, placing second in the floor exercise, and Tabitha Tay ’14 who placed third on the balance beam with 9.525 — a career high. Other scores of note included that of captain Sherry Yang ’11, who had a career high of 9.600 on the floor, and Andsager, whose season-high 9.575 on the uneven parallel bars was good for fourth place.

For all of the last-minute adjustments, only eight gymnasts overall were able to compete for Yale, compared to the 11 of both Springfield and Temple. Of those eight, four were freshman, matched by the four seniors on both the opposing squads. Coach Tonry revealed the main difficulty in having the smallest roster in the Ivies is being unable to rest anyone, which increases the likelihood for injury. Yang said the recent spate of injuries has caused everyone to spend more time in the training room for maintenance, before and after practice.

This Saturday’s meet is the last home competition for the Elis this season, and the last of Yang’s career, the team’s sole senior. “It will be a bittersweet moment … the feeling that everyone is on your side — I’m definitely going to miss that,” Yang said.

SCSU will visit February 19, the meet starting at 1:00 pm in the John J. Lee Amphitheatre in Payne Whitney Gymnasium.

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