GYMNASTICS | Tough finale for gymnasts

The gymnastics team finished its season in last place at the ECAC Championships.
The gymnastics team finished its season in last place at the ECAC Championships. Photo by Jennifer Cheung.

It wasn’t their best score of the season, but a small, injured gymnastics squad still managed to finish with a good performance in their final meet of the year.

The Bulldogs finished seventh in the ECAC Championship with a score of 186.225, 1.7 points behind home-team Brown. Both teams, however, were too far behind to compete in the contentious battle for first.

Cornell won its first-ever ECAC gymnastics title by 0.5 points over this year’s Ivy League champion, Penn, with a score of 191.675. The margins got slimmer in the middle of the pack, as Towson came in third by 0.1 points, Temple in fourth by 0.075, and William and Mary in fifth by only 0.025. It was the first time this season that Penn had managed to overcome Towson, winner of the past six ECAC titles.

The Bulldogs’ best scores came on the floor exercise, where they had their most complete team effort of the season. Captain Sherry Yang ’11 led the team with a career-high score of 9.800, good for fifth place, and only 0.050 points from first.

“Knowing it was the last time … I definitely felt more energy,” Yang said. “[I was] more concentrated.”

On the uneven parallel bars, Lindsay Andsager ’13 also tied for fifth, with a score of 9.625, only 0.025 points away from placing in the top three. But aside from Andsager, the bars specialist, the rest of the team struggled on the apparatus. Scores were at 9.000 or below, falling in the bottom half of the standings.

On vault the Elis were hurt yet again by the absence of a full 10.000 point start value, despite regaining anchor Tara Feld ’13 just in time for the competition. Even so, there was a silver lining. Mia Yabut ’12, who was kept off the vault all season until the previous week due to a foot injury, scored a career-high 9.500, tying with Stephanie Goldstein’s ’13 own season high for best Yale score, and 25th place overall.

Yabut had stayed off the vault for almost the entire week of practice leading up to the championship.

“I vaulted once in practice and limited my warm-ups at the actual competition so my injured foot could feel as healthy as possible for just one good vault,” Yabut said.

Feld, who more recently recovered from her own injury, a torn muscle in her abdomen, also put forth a solid effort on the floor. Scoring a 9.750, she achieved a season-best, and also tied for 18th. With about one-and-a-half weeks to prepare, Feld had to relearn routines that she had not done in months.

“I had to really push hard … to try and get as many routines back as I could. I relied a lot on my teammates’ support … I had to trust that the work I had put in at the beginning of the season still had an influence on my routines,” Feld said.

For Yang, the lone senior on the young squad, it was her last competition, and the end to four years of training.

She viewed her time with the program as one of rebuilding. The experienced squad of her freshman year — in which the Bulldogs narrowly missed the Ivy League title — shrank dramatically going into the next season, a season she considered to be the worst in Yale history.

She said she thought of this competition, and this season, just one more step in that effort.

“Even though we didn’t do as well as we hoped … I’m very proud of this team … for never giving up, even though the odds were against us,” Yang said.

As for the off-season, Goldstein emphasized the team’s motivation to improve on their performances as they end the semester and look forward to beginning next year.

“We’re going to be working hard…to add difficulty on all our events,” she said. “Hopefully … we’ll be setting ourselves up for a successful 2012 season.”

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