Yale gymnastics bounces back, places second

Morgan Traina ’15 was named the ECAC Rookie of the Year last year, while Joyce Li ’15 was named the ECAC Rookie of the Week twice during last season.
Morgan Traina ’15 was named the ECAC Rookie of the Year last year, while Joyce Li ’15 was named the ECAC Rookie of the Week twice during last season. Photo by Joyce Xi.

The Yale gymnastics team did not start its season as it would have liked two weekends ago at Rutgers. Competing in a tri-meet against the host school and Alaska-Anchorage, the Eli squad’s performance featured nervous wobbles and falls en route to a third-place finish.

But the team bounced back at this Sunday’s meet at Southern Connecticut, finishing in second, only 0.525 points behind the host school. While Yale could not snatch the victory in the team competition, the Bulldogs ruled the individual all-around competition, sweeping the first four spots. Joyce Li ’15 won the all-around with an overall score of 38.375.

“This meet this past weekend was a definite improvement over our first meet,” team captain Stephanie Goldstein ’13 said. “We got a lot of the kind of nervous wobbles, nervous falls out, which was good, but I think we definitely still have a lot of room for improvement as the season goes on.”

The Bulldogs dominated two of the four apparatuses. Morgan Traina ’15, Li and Lindsey Andsager ’13 placed first, second and third, respectively, in the uneven parallel bars. On the balance beam, Traina and Li again took the top two spots, while Tara Feld ’13 and Ashley O’Connor ’14 nabbed fourth and fifth, respectively.

Goldstein also noted that Brittney Sooksengdao ’16 had a particularly impressive floor routine, placing ninth in the event.

Despite the team’s better meet, Goldstein said that it needs to improve its performance on the vault.

“[There is] definitely room for improvement on vault, which we’ve been already working hard in practice this week on,” Goldstein said.

In the individual all-around, the story of the meet was the performances of two underclassmen Yale ahtletes, Li and Traina, who finished first and second, respectively.

The sophomores already established themselves as forces with which to be reckoned last year. Traina was named the ECAC Rookie of the Year, while Li was named the ECAC Rookie of the Week twice during the season. Li, however, got the better of Traina on Sunday.

“Joyce Li had a fantastic start in both of our meets,” head coach Barbara Tonry said.

Although Traina won the uneven parallel bars and the balance beam and Li had no first place finishes, Li scored second in those events to keep the competition close. Furthermore, Li bested Traina by only 25 hundreths of a point in the floor exercise.

The real difference in their overall performances was during the vault. Li finished eigth-tenths of a point ahead of Traina on the vault en route to taking second place in the event and first in the all-around.

“Though it’s great if you do well individually, ultimately it’s a team sport,” Li said.

Tonry said that the team has already had to deal with a number of challenges this season, primarily injuries to an already small team.

The gymnastics team continues its season at home against Penn on Sunday.

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