In a final performance that showcased all the star power — and lingering troubles — of this year’s team, the Yale gymnastics team finished second at the East Coast Athletic Conference championship Saturday in Williamsburg, VA.
The Bulldogs waltzed past Ivy rivals on all sides, and tantalized Ivy champion Cornell with their 193.375 score; the Big Red held on for third place with a 192.575 final effort. Yale even dispensed with James Madison and the University of Vermont, both strong non-Ivy contenders.
But although Yale led the field going into the meet’s final rotation, the Bulldogs finally lost to host squad College of William and Mary, posting .225 points too few to match the Tribe’s 193.600.
“We were all a little upset,” Jamie Green ’04 said. “Such a small final margin means every person on our team could have made the difference between first and second.”
Green came in first in the meet’s all-around competition finishing with 38.875 points over four events. With teammate Kathryn Fong ’05, who placed fifth on the ECAC all-around list, she will represent Yale at the NCAA Regional Championships in the individual competition.
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, their fifth place regional standing will not earn them an invitation to Regionals as a team.
But at ECACs, Yale ended the season strongly. The ever-tough Christine Lacy ’05 bounced back from a stomach flu to win the vault with a 9.800 score. Andrea Wolf ’04 tied Cornell’s Meghan Miller for first in the uneven bars with a 9.825, and Fong took third with a 9.800.
Anyone could see, with just the quickest glance in Yale’s direction, that the Bulldogs were on a track towards one of their strongest scores of the year.
“Yale looked great on bars,” said Mary Lewis, the head coach for William and Mary.
“[Yale] had some outstanding performances, especially with Jamie Green winning the all around and the very close finish,” she said.
Green also partook of a five-way tie for first on the floor exercise, posting an impressive 9.875, and tied for eighth in a very competitive field on the balance beam with a 9.750.
Heading into NCAA Regionals as an individual competitor, Green said she is enticed by the prospect of competing against the country’s best gymnasts.
“Still,” she added, “it’s more fun, and more nerve-wracking, to work for a team.”
Team captain Caroline Pignatelli ’02 added that spring break’s “two solid weeks of no school, just gymnastics” helped her team in ways beyond the purely physical at ECACs.
“Over break, we bonded as a team, and that influenced our performance,” she said. “In our region, we accomplished exactly what we set out to do when we moved ahead of Rutgers, the University of Rhode Island, and other full scholarship schools.”
But Yale’s success in the region did not surprise Brown’s head coach, Tom Miller, who said he sees an Ivy League gymnastics renaissance on the horizon.
“All Ivy League gymnastics teams are strong, and will be better than ever next year,” he said.
Brown finished ahead of Yale at the Ivy Classic, but since that meet Yale has consistently posted better numbers than any other Ivy school.
“It’s frustrating to beat Cornell and Brown a few weeks after the Ivy Classic, but the victory is still equally satisfying,” Pignatelli said.
Green agreed wholeheartedly.
“This meet was our little redemption,” she said.