Coming off three consecutive second-place finishes in the ECAC tournament, the gymnastics team faced high expectations at the beginning of this year. But the Elis are still seeking their first win of the season after last weekend’s loss to the University of Pennsylvania. Following a loss at the season opener to Springfield College Jan. 10th, Yale fell to Penn Saturday by a score of 188.650-190.050. Six slips on the beam proved costly for Springfield, but this time it was mistakes on the bar that cost Yale the match.

“The bar was our toughest event at this meet,” captain Jamie Green ’04 said. “We were fairly close to Penn with several important people unable to compete, so that only shows what we will be able to do when everyone is healthy. The girls who competed really tried to rally and pull through, but there were some mistakes that cost us on that event.”

The current string of injuries has put a great deal of pressure on the Bulldogs. Many girls were forced to compete in unfamiliar events because of the shortage of healthy gymnasts.

“We were dealing with a makeshift lineup,” Kathyrn Fong ’05 said. “I think that some girls were not quite as prepared because of this.”

Yale is also reeling from the loss of last year’s graduating class.

“The loss of six strong seniors resulted in a rebuilding year,” head coach Barbara Tonry said. “That would have been challenging enough, but then we encountered these injuries. I do not remember ever having this many injuries in one season.”

As a result, some gymnasts have had to rush back into action before they were fully healed. Christine Lacy ’05, still recovering from an injury, gave Yale a clutch vault on Saturday.

“Christine had not vaulted all week in practice because of the injury, but she came in and did a great one because she knew we needed her,” Tonry explained.

Other bright spots from this weekend included standout performances from Green, Fong and Suchitra Paul ’07. Green placed first in the floor exercise with a score of 9.850, Fong led the field with a 9.750 on the uneven bars, and Paul won the beam and came in second in the overall competition with a score of 38.150. “[Suchitra] Paul is a freshman we’ve been putting a lot of pressure on,” Tonry said. “She’s been doing four events almost every meet, and she’s been doing a great job with that.”

However, these excellent individual showings did not translate into a win on Saturday.

“No one person can carry a team the way gymnastics scoring works,” Fong said. “You can have a phenomenal score, but if the others aren’t good, it doesn’t add up. Everybody needs to pull their weight.”

Yale’s next meet is this Saturday. The Elis will face three teams, including Penn State, which is currently ranked 18th in the country. Yale is 67th.

Tonry emphasized the importance of not being intimidated.

“Penn State is an excellent team,” she said. “We just have to go back into the gym and do a lot of routines and repetitions of skills to become more consistent.”

The Bulldogs remain optimistic about the rest of the season.

“Even though we’re off to a slow start, we have the talent to win the Ivy and the ECAC championships,” Fong said. “It just comes down to a lot of hard work.”

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