Where is the line between talent and luck when your losses are sealed by less than a point?
This year, the gymnastics team just might be able to tell you. Yale’s luck continues to wobble while its talent runs steady.
Yale finished third with a score of 190.000 at the Towson Invitational in Towson, Maryland this Sunday. George Washington University took the title for the third consecutive year, and posted a season-high overall score of 195.025.
GW beat the Bulldogs in Yale’s strongest event, the floor exercise, by less than half a point, 49.200 to 48.725.
Host team Towson University came in second overall, boasting a score of 193.875.
“It wasn’t the cleanest performance,” Jamie Green ’04 said. “We had a bunch of mistakes that we just have to eliminate.”
Despite a fall on the balance beam, Green contributed generously to Yale’s overall score. She placed fourth on the vault with a 9.775 launch, and sixth overall with 38.425 points out of a possible 40.
But looking ahead to this weekend’s Ivy Classic at Brown, Yale’s gymnasts say they won’t be satisfied with anything less than a brush with perfection.
“What I’m thinking now is that our mentality, as a team, should be very simple,” said Waverly Dolaman ’04, who pitched into Yale’s massive floor exercise effort with a 9.725 at Towson. “At Ivies, and beyond, we just need to go in and hit our routines.”
In general, Yale’s gymnasts feel that perfection is waiting mere inches, mere fractions of a point, beyond the potential they have shown this season.
“It’s a matter of putting together what we know we’re capable of,” Shoshanna Engel ’03 said.
Engel and Green led Yale around and around the uneven bars at Towson, both landing a 9.750.
“We’re confident that we have the talent and the skills to beat all the other teams at Ivies,” agreed Kathryn Fong ’05. “This meet is the Yale-Harvard Game of gymnastics, but the real challenge for us will be mental. All we have to do is pull ourselves together, pull down some big numbers, and hold on to the meet.”
And the prevailing belief of this team is that if Yale’s gymnasts can make good on these minimalist maxims, the Bulldogs will win the Ivy title for the second year in a row.
“It’s ours to have,” said Engel.
She added that Yale just beat the University of Pennsylvania, whom the Bulldogs will see again in Providence this weekend. The Quakers came in fourth at Towson, nearly two full points behind Yale, with a 188.175 showing. Since 1991, Yale or Penn has won every Ivy Classic.
“It’s a wonderful rivalry,” Penn coach Tom Kovic said. “You look at Yale, they’re the defending Ivy League champs. They’re certainly on our minds.”
Jennifer Gold ’03 recalled her freshman year, when Yale narrowly dropped the Ivy Championship to Kovic’s talented Penn team.
“We’re working hard to pull everything together so that doesn’t happen again,” she said.
But Engel was also there for Yale’s slip in 2000, and has since worked out the difference between success and failure in her perfectionist sport.
“It’s the difference between competing and performing,” she said. “We must perform”