This weekend the Yale gymnastics team placed third at a tri-meet in nearby Bridgeport with a score of 184.600. The Elis, still recovering from several injuries, were bested by the University of New Hampshire and the University of Bridgeport — two bigger programs that proved to be challenging foes.
“We knew it would be a tough meet coming into it,” Micaline Tomeo ’09 said. “Our main goal was just to raise our team score and try and hit more routines.”
Despite the final standings, however, the Bulldogs made strides in their season as they improved their team score by three points and hit five out of five in two events (floor and vault) and four out of five on bars. Alina Liao ’09 placed second in the all-around competition, and Brigitte Kivisto ’10, the only Eli not to fall in the exercise, placed second overall on beam.
“We definitely had a lot of improvement on three events and those were the three we were really focusing on,” Lauren Tatsuno ’09 said. “Beam is always there — we just have to hit in the pressure scenario.”
Beginning competition with the floor exercise, all the Bulldogs posted solid scores above 9.0 with Liao’s 9.675 earning her 6th place in the competition. Tatsuno, just behind Liao, posted a 9.6. Allison Mak ’10, Sherry Yang ’11 and Sarah Hughes ’09 rounded out the five.
As in past weekends, the Elis only posted five gymnasts in each event. Competition allows, and rewards, teams who post the maximum of six players because only the top five scores are counted in the team’s total. Tatsuno explained that the Elis have multiple injuries and illnesses that keep them from slating a full squad. The natural disadvantage, she adds, will most likely continue throughout the season.
“Every person on the team is very valuable,” Yang said. “The schools we were up against had teams of 27 to 30 people; our team is 13 just because we are not a scholarship school. I thought we did a very good job overall. If we keep on moving in this direction I’m sure good things will happen.”
Play continued on the vault where Liao, Tatsuno, Mak, Yang and Tomeo, as in vault, all posted scores higher than a 9.0. Mak was the Elis’ highest scorer — her 9.6 secured her seventh place in the individual competition. Tomeo, who according to Tatsuno was struggling in warm-ups, nailed her Tsukahara tuck under the eyes of the judges.
“It’s been improving every meet this season,” Tomeo said of her vault. The senior, a walk-on last season, is in her first year of collegiate play and “just getting used to being in a competition setting.”
The bars, the Elis’ weakest event, proved another gradual improvement from their first competition. Claude de Jocas ’12 opened the event for the Bulldogs by catching her tkachev release for a score of 8.725 despite still recovering from a preseason injury. Hughes, Mak, Margaret Greenberg ’12 and Liao filled the roster. Liao finished in fifth place with a 9.65.
The beam exercises, usually the Bulldogs’ best event, failed to equal the team’s expectations.
“It was disappointing. We had done really well until then,” Tatsuno said. “We just couldn’t maintain the momentum.”
Kivisto’s high 9.5 beam exercise proved the exception as it earned her second place in the individual competition. But Mak, Yang, Liao and Tatsuno each fell during their routines, thus earning them the obligatory .5-point deduction.
“Brigitte has done a really good job of making things work and pushing through the pain,” Tatsuno said. She added that many of her teammates are dealing with similar pains, but said she wanted to particularly mention Kivisto after her performance Saturday.
Liao, who has won all-around in the Elis’ two previous competition, was bested by Helena Diodati of UNH and Lorraine Galow of Bridgeport, who scored 38.75 and 38.5, respectively. Liao ended with a 37.9 and third place. Mak ended with a 37.1.
Bridgeport will face Yale again next weekend as the Purple Knights travel to New Haven for a dual meet. The meet will begin on Saturday at 1 p.m. in the John J. Lee Amphitheater.