A last-place finish at the first competition of the season is almost never a promising sign. But despite a seemingly poor finish at last Friday’s meet, the gymnastics team was pleased with its results and hopes to recapture the Ivy League title that it lost to Cornell last season.

The Bulldogs were at an immediate disadvantage in the four-team field that included Rutgers, New Hampshire and the University of Rhode Island, because Yale is the only school that did not award athletic scholarships to its gymnasts. Because of the strength of their competition, the Elis used the first meet as an opportunity to concentrate on their own individual performances.

[ydn-legacy-photo-inline id=”14626″ ]

“I am not at all disappointed with our first meet,” Allison Mak ’10 said. “We did the best that we could, [we] started off with a strong base, and each [of us] saw points in our routines that can be improved upon for our next meet.”

The meet consisted of four individual events: vault, uneven bars, beam and floor. Miki Seltzer ’07, coming off an impressive performance at last year’s NCAA regional championships, finished first in the floor competition with a score of 9.625. As a whole, the Bulldogs scored a combined 185.325 and were barely edged out by host Rhode Island for third place.

“The first meet is always a little rough, but I was really impressed with the way the team pulled together,” Seltzer said. “Of course there’s work to be done, but this weekend was a really great starting point.”

The gymnastics program has been remarkably successful. The Elis won the Ivy League title in 2003 and 2005 and have finished in the top four in inter-conference competition every year since 1977.

“Our goal for the year is to take back the Ivy League title,” Jessica Blick ’07 said. “We won in 2005, and that is a very feasible goal for our team this year.”

To recapture the title from rival Cornell, the Elis will be relying on the continued improvement of many returning team members and solid performances from the two new freshmen on the roster. The URI meet allowed the Bulldogs to see what areas needed the most improvement.

“The most important thing we need to improve on from this meet, and throughout the season, will be consistency,” Seltzer said. “We’ll also need to clean up our routines — things like sticking landings and keeping perfect form.”

The Elis will be focusing on improving their execution in the vault, bars and floor events and on continuing their solid showing on the beam. The team’s overall score at the URI meet was 0.425 points higher than the team’s finish at the first meet last year, leaving the Bulldogs optimistic about their performance.

“We were really excited about Miki winning floor, and both freshmen competed very well at their first collegiate meet,” Blick said. “Beam was a strong point.”

The Elis will get their first taste of Ivy League competition against the University of Pennsylvania at this Saturday’s meet in Philadelphia.