GYMNASTICS | Bulldogs fall to fourth

A fourth-place finish is not what the Yale gymnastics team had in mind heading into last weekend’s competition.

The Bulldogs failed to capture the Ivy League title last Sunday at the Ivy League Championships hosted by Cornell in Ithaca, N.Y. Mistakes on bars caused the team to place fourth with a score of 190.725, behind Penn (192.65), Cornell (191.875) and Brown (191.075). The standout individual of the meet was Morgan Traina ’15, who placed third all-around and first on beam.

“No one really said anything [after the meet],” Mia Yabut ’12, the team captain said, “We all knew how everyone was feeling and how disappointed we were.”

The team goal since the beginning of the season was to win Ivy League Championships, so their lack of improvement upon last year’s results was a letdown. But despite their lack of movement in the standings, the two-point difference between first and fourth was much closer this year than last year’s 6.4-point spread. The small margin meant the Bulldogs would have been competitive for the title if they had they minimized their mistakes, Yabut said.

The first event, vault, was well executed, with Tara Feld ’13 leading the squad with a 9.750. Tabitha Tay ’14 was asked to compete on vault only minutes before the competition began, when teammate Brianna Chrisman ’15 hurt her knee in warmups. Feld said it is difficult mentally to make the switch from not competing to competing in a matter of minutes, but she made the switch successfully, contributing a solid 9.375 to the team’s score.

Bars was the biggest disappointment of the day, even though it has been the team’s strongest event for the past couple of meets. Last weekend, however, it was the team’s worst event, as the Elis finished with a score of 46.850. Two falls were counted against the team’s overall bars score. Those mistakes, levied on skills ranging from release moves to dismounts and pirouettes, proved too great for the team to overcome. Team members said they were unsure what caused the problems on bars: Traina said the team had been performing strong bar routines both in practice and in competition — so Sunday may just have been an uncharacteristically bad day for the team, she added.

The Elis were able to put their bars performance behind them and rally on beam. The team posted its highest score of the season on beam (48.125) and only counted one fall toward its team score. With a back handspring layout step out series and a side aerial, Traina took first place on beam with a 9.825, her highest score ever.

“I’m proud of how everybody handled the rest of the meet,” Feld said. “We kept our spirits up throughout the meet, which is a big deal.”

The team finished the meet with a good floor rotation, but it was not enough to move the team out of fourth place. Top Eli finishers on the floor event were Stephanie Goldstein ’13 (9.725), Joyce Li ’15 (9.675) and Feld (9.650).

The team now has its sights set on the ECAC meet, which is a championship meet that includes all Ivy League teams and a few other schools such as Towson University and Temple. The ECAC meet is slightly more important than the Ivy League Championships because teams as well as individuals have the opportunity to qualify for NCAA regionals, Traina said. Also, since all the Ivy League teams will be at ECAC’s, Feld said it is the team’s chance for redemption.

The team’s next meet is on March 2, against Towson and William and Mary, at Towson.

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