The Yale gymnastics team is no longer undefeated.
On Saturday, Jan. 28, Yale lost in its home opener to the defending Ivy League Champions, Penn. The Elis scored 188.350, which could not match Penn’s 191.225. The Bulldogs started out strong on vault and bars but could not carry this momentum to beam, which resulted in the team’s three point loss.
“I thought we started off beautifully … ” head coach Barbara Tonry said, “then we went to beam, and I don’t know what happened.”
During vault, Yale’s first event, no falls were counted towards the team’s overall score. While the team is happy with this outcome, the Elis are still looking to increase the difficulty of tricks attempted in this event, team captain Mia Yabut ’12 said. Right now, most of the girls on the team are competing a Yurchenko layout, a skill that involves doing a roundoff backhandspring onto the vault, then pushing off and completing a black flip in a straight body position. Vaults that include a layout with a twist are considered more difficult and are awarded more points. The Bulldogs did not compete layout twists this weekend, but Yabut said some of the gymnasts are looking to do so in the future.
“Three of the girls on our team have the potential to do half [twists],” Yabut said, “but we’re trying to play it safe for the first part of the season.”
Despite this lack of difficulty, Tara Feld ’13 won the vault event with a 9.750.
As the Bulldogs headed to the uneven bars, they trailed Penn by only 0.850. The team carried its success over to bars, where once again, the Bulldogs counted no falls towards their team score.
Lindsay Andsager ’13 and Joyce Li ’15, who scored a 9.7 and a 9.675 respectively, placed in the top two for the team. At the end of bars, Yale was losing to the defending Ivy League Champions, who had competed bars and then beam, by only 0.65.
But on beam, things began to go south for the Bulldogs. Three of Yale’s top six gymnasts fell, forcing the team to count two falls towards the overall team score.
“Nerves got the best of some of the girls [on beam],” Yabut said. “We also have a high level of difficulty on beam.”
She added that the difficulty level of the routines makes them harder to complete without falls. On beam, Yale competes aerials, or no handed cartwheels, and tumbling that includes various back flips as well as twisting dismounts. The difficulty of these skills, combined with the pressure of competition can get the best of a gymnastics team. The falls on beam widened the scoring gap, and Yale trailed by by 2.375 points at the end of the event.
Floor exercise was a solid event for Yale. The highlight of floor was the last routine, in which Feld won the event with a score of 9.750. Feld’s double back tuck was the last tumbling pass of the meet and a powerful finish for the Elis.
Although Yale lost to Penn by about three points, the Elis dropped to the Quakers last year by more than six points. Team members said they are happy to see improvement against the Ivy Champions, but the team was also disappointed that it did not capitalize on the opportunity to win, Tonry said.
The team is preparing for this weekend’s upcoming meet against Brown and University of New Hampshire at the New Hampshire Invitational. Beam will be the focus of this week’s practice, Tonry said.
“The more hit routines you do in practice, the more confident you are in actual competition.” Tonry said. “[The team members] need to get their confidence back and feel good about what they’re doing.”
The Bulldogs are hopeful that with a strong week of practice, they will make a strong showing at the invitational. New Hampshire, which awards recruits full scholarships in gymnastics, might prove a challenge for the Bulldogs. Tonry said she has yet to see Brown in action this year.
“If we put in the work and everyone’s focused, we have a good shot,” Li said of beating the Bears.
Li took second place in the all-around competition against Penn with a 37.725.
The Bulldogs travel to Durham, N.H., for the Invitational takes place Saturday at 7 p.m.