Yale’s gymnastics team captured the Ivy League championship Saturday before a large home crowd at Payne Whitney’s John J. Lee Amphitheater. Not only did the Bulldogs put to rest any questions about who rules the Ivies, they did so in style, breaking both the school and league records for all-around team score as well as several individual records.
With a lineup depleted by injury, the Elis still handled their archrival, the University of Pennsylvania, for a second time in 2001, 193.250-190.475. Cornell and Brown tied for third with scores of 189.475.
After a grueling day of competition the week before, in which the Bulldogs were edged by regional foe University of Massachusetts, there were doubts whether Yale would be able to compete blow-for-blow with the revenge-seeking Quakers. In the third rotation at Massachusetts, the Elis suffered a tremendous loss when standout gymnast Shann Engel ’03 suffered a serious knee injury.
That the Bulldogs were able to bounce back just one week later and dominate the Ivy field in spite of such an emotionally draining loss made the scene in the Lee Amphitheater even more gripping.
“Records fell everywhere, but most importantly each and every member of the team stepped up and did their job,” Engel said from her home in Kentucky, where she will undergo the first of two surgeries today. “I am honored to be a part of the team that won in such a fashion.”
Her teammates said the hardships of a week before galvanized their determination to bring home the Ivy title.
“I wanted to do the best vault that I possibly could in this competition because I knew how much it meant to all of us [to win],” said Lauren Stephens ’04, who posted a personal-best 9.750 in that event.
Along with several personal bests, Eli athletes set several school and league records Saturday.
Andrea Wolf ’03 posted a 9.900 on the bars, which was a new Yale mark. Wolf and Jamie Green ’04 both broke Yale’s all-around individual records, Wolf with an overall score of 39.175 and Green with 39.200 points.
“We all came together and really put forth our best effort,” team captain Lisa Crowley ’01 said.
The day was a double pleasure for Crowley, whose longtime boyfriend Jon Stevens proposed to her after the Bulldog victory. Fortunately for the groom-to-be, he also went home victorious Saturday.
Now, only one serious issue remains for the surging Eli squad as it heads into the home stretch of its season — will it continue to score high enough to earn a bid to the NCAA Regional tournament in April.
“From here, we want to focus on getting some more high team scores,” Crowley said. “We want to pull up our season average so we can make it to Regionals.”
The Elis next chance to turn in a big performance will be in front of another packed house at the Wolfpack Invitational at North Carolina State University March 3.
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