Losses aren’t always seen in a negative light. In fact, the women’s gymnastic team sees its defeat in Sunday’s tournament as a sign that the team is coming along just fine.

Demonstrating that they were able to hang with two schools that give athletic scholarships, the defending Ivy League Champion Bulldogs showed important improvements this weekend. The Elis finished third out of three teams in the Northeast Invitational, with the University of New Hampshire claiming the victory with an overall score of 191.125. University of Rhode Island placed second with 185.0, and Yale followed close behind with 184.9 in the Durham, N.H., competition.

Although the team finished last, members said they were not disappointed by the result. Instead, the Elis said the tournament reflected positively on the progress they made during the training season this fall.

“As a first meet, it was a really good way to start off the season,” said Miki Seltzer ’07, who scored a 9.5 on the vault exercise to earn a sixth-place finish.

Other Bulldogs performed solidly to earn individual recognitions. On the uneven bar, Suchitra Paul ’07 tied for sixth place with her score of 9.425. Jessica Tai ’07 also nabbed a sixth place finish with her performance on the floor exercise.

But it was the freshmen who surged ahead for the Bulldogs. Rookies Kimberley So ’09 and Alina Liao ’09 led the Elis in the all-around competition, claiming fifth and sixth place with scores of 36.850 and 36.775, respectively. A highlight of So’s meet was her third place performance on the beam routine, where she scored a 9.5.

Lauren Tatsuno ’09, who competed in three events, said she was excited to finally compete in a collegiate event after the anticipation she felt all fall. Veteran team members said they expect the four freshman recruits to add substantially to the depth of the team.

“The freshmen handled themselves with composure and stepped up when we needed them to,” Seltzer said. “They are going to be a huge part of the team this year.”

Considering that both UNH and URI are scholarship schools, Seltzer said being able to compete at their high level is testimony to the Bulldogs’ accomplishments thus far. But captain Anne McPherson ’06 said there is still a lot of work to be done until the team reaches its peak.

“I know my endurance isn’t where it should be,” McPherson said. “I wasn’t able to perform as I could have.”

Besides physical fitness, McPherson said consistency is also crucial for having a successful season. But slipping up is a common problem that plagues gymnastic teams at the beginning of the schedule before they have had the adequate time to perfect the routines.

This season, a change in rules will also test the Elis’ determination. Certain skills are not worth as many points, so teams have had to increase the difficulty of the start values of their routines. But McPherson said the Bulldogs have responded to the challenge well. Seltzer said she personally felt good about her performance under the new regulations.

“This meet was a confidence boost for me, as I was nervous about doing harder skills that I had never done in competition before,” she said.

Next Saturday, the Bulldogs’ skills will be put to the test when the team hosts Penn for one of their most important meets of the season. The Quakers have perennially been the Bulldogs’ primary rival, and the team members said they hope they will be ready for the challenge so early in the season.

“We’re defending Ivy League Champions,” McPherson said. “We’d like to beat them again … and especially at home.”