They may have finished second at the Ivy Classic not long ago, but spring break was not particularly kind to Yale’s gymnasts.
The Elis went on a long road trip that started poorly with a fifth-place finish at the Nation’s Capital Cup and ended with a less-than-perfect performance at the ECAC tournament, which host Penn won. The Bulldogs won the Ivies and finished second in the ECAC tournament last year, but beat only two of the eleven teams they have faced since this year’s Ivy Classic.
Kathryn Fong ’05 said that the freshmen’s performance had made a big difference in how the season turned out.
“The way the freshman really stepped up even though it was such a new experience for them was very gratifying to see,” Fong said.
After losing to George Washington, Towson, Pittsburgh, and William & Mary at the Nation’s Capital Cup on March 6, the Bulldogs finished third behind North Carolina State and New Hampshire in Raleigh on March 14 before traveling to Philadelphia for the ECAC tournament. There, on March 20, the Elis took their revenge on William & Mary and beat James Madison, but were bested not only by the seemingly unstoppable Quakers but also by Cornell and Brown, teams that Yale had beaten in the Ivy Classic.
Suchitra Paul ’07 said consistency brought Penn the titles.
“The final scores were all really close,” Paul said. “Making your routine and staying on was the key. The thing about Penn was that they were really consistent.”
The team was plagued by injuries throughout the season, and hopes to use the off-season to recover.
“Hopefully, we can avoid [injuries] next year,” Paul said.
Yale had hoped for some redemption in the selections for the NCAA regional championships. But none came, as neither Jamie Green ’04 nor Fong will be returning to the regionals again.
But Fong said she was okay with how things turned out.
“Keeping all my injuries in mind, I don’t think I could really have done much more in trying to get to regionals,” Fong said. “There was too little time and I had too many injuries. Getting back to regionals is really high on my list of goals for next year, but my personal goals come after the goals that I have for the team. The team comes first.”
The freshmen are enthusiastic about next year.
“As for myself and all the freshmen, we know more of what to expect and how the training works,” Paul said. “So we are more confident going into next season.”
Avnery said senior leadership would be a great help next year.
“We will have five sophomores in a strong class and three strong seniors who will provide a great deal of leadership,” Avnery said. “This was a rebuilding year. Last season, we won the Ivies and once you have such a good year, you think every season will be as successful.”
Both Avnery and Fong cited changes in the team dynamic as a factor in the losses over break.
“There was just such a huge change in team dynamic with six seniors gone and five freshman coming in,” Avnery said.
Fong said the team had important goals for next year.
“We want to win Ivies and we want to win ECACs,” Fong said. “With our talent it is absolutely possible. Everyone needs to recover and stay focused. I have no doubts that the rest of the team is as hungry and focused as I am. We finished second at Ivies, and considering the injuries and the adjustments the freshmen had to make I think that was very good.”