After a year of highs and lows, the Bulldogs finished their season with one of their best meets, even though their ranking may not accurately reflect the seniors’ strong final performances.
Yale’s gymnasts competed at the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Championships this past Saturday at Cornell’s Newman Arena, where they placed sixth out of nine teams with a score of 189.425. The Bulldogs were led by Miki Seltzer ’07, who won the floor event with a career high of 9.85. Towson University dominated the meet (193.65) and Penn placed second, but scores from third to sixth place were all within a point, showing the close competition among the teams.
“Everyone was actually pretty happy and pleased at the end of the meet, even though sixth was not as good as we were hoping for,” captain Sarah Peterson ’07 said. “There were a lot of highlights — a lot of people stepped up, two people qualified for [NCAA] Regionals and all the seniors ended on a really strong note.”
The team started off on a shaky note with its first rotation on beam. Although there were some uncharacteristic falls, Brigitte Kivisto ’10 and Kristen Campbell ’08 posted season highs of 9.775 and 9.625, respectively. Peterson, who has been out for most of the season due to an elbow injury, was able to compete in her last routine by performing only flips that did not require landing on her arms.
“After the first rotation, it was hard to catch up after the disappointing time on beam,” Seltzer said. “It all depends on who makes all their routines that day — it’s a game of consistency, and unfortunately, it wasn’t there on beam.”
But despite the rough start, the team was able put in strong performances in the other three events as the meet progressed. The Bulldogs gained momentum with their strong rotation on floor, headed by Seltzer’s 9.85, which won the event. Alina Liao ’09 finished third with a 9.8 and Suchitra Paul ’07 added a 9.6, along with solid performances in other events.
For Seltzer, a strong performance on this event was crucial since it was her last chance to get a high score for NCAA Regionals qualifications. Her career high was just enough to put her ahead of another competitor for the Regionals spot, although official announcements about qualifications will not be out until tomorrow.
The team continued with a solid lineup on vault, which was led by Jessica Tai ’07, who posted a season high despite being injured. Tai had pulled her hip flexor muscles earlier, and teammates praised her ability to push through the pain and perform well on vault and floor.
“I couldn’t run as fast due to the injury, but it was actually good because I usually over-rotate when I run too fast,” Tai said. “It was really sweet to end my career on such a high note.”
For their last rotation, the team finished up on the uneven bars, which has been a struggle for most of the season, but actually turned out to be one of its higher scores at this meet. The Bulldogs did not have to count any falls and were led by Jessica Blick ’07, who ended her career with one of her best performances. Team members said bars was a definite highlight because the solid routines resulted in a strong finale.
With the season wrapped up for most of the team, the Bulldogs have had a chance to reflect on the past season, and for the seniors, the past four years. Team members cited the various obstacles that they have had to overcome, such as injuries throughout the season and not having a permanent assistant coach until a couple months into the school year, but agreed that given their circumstances, they are all pleased with how the season turned out.
“A major theme of this year was people stepping up and doing things they weren’t expected to,” Seltzer said. “We’ve overcome so many obstacles and may not have won Ivies or placed in the top three at ECACs, but we did the best we could with what we had.”
Although most Bulldogs have finished their seasons, two will likely be competing one more time this season. In addition to Seltzer, Liao, who teammates describe as a “rock” due to her consistently solid performances, will most likely qualify for NCAA Regionals in the all-around competition.
The NCAA Regionals will be held on April 14 in Ann Arbor, Mich.