Fans filled the stands of the John J. Lee Amphitheater on Saturday to bid Yale’s senior gymnasts goodbye in their last home meet of the regular season.
Captain Alina Liao ’09 finished first in the all-around competition (38.750), but the team fell to Southern Connecticut State 186.60 to 164.025, mainly due to the numerous injuries that still plague the team’s younger members. Despite a shorter line-up — seven gymnasts competing compared to SCSU’s 11 — the Bulldogs carried first in two of the four events.
“Obviously, Alina had a phenomenal meet — she’s been doing so well this season and constantly getting better each week,” Lauren Tatsuno ’09 said.
Tatsuno, who was injured in the last of her pre-meet warm-ups, would have competed for the Elis in the all-around for the first time in her career.
In two events, floor and vault, the Elis only posted four competitors, and on beam and bars they posted five. The Owls, with a deeper line-up, posted six gymnasts in all four events, thus allowing them to drop their lowest score in each category for the calculation of the team’s score. Yale was unable to drop any score, and when they posted only four players, they had to accept zeros for the fifth score needed for the total.
“Overall, I thought we looked really strong and competitive,” Liao said. “Looking at individuals, even after we fell, we went back and finished really strongly. This meet, even the falls show great improvement on how we carry ourselves.”
According to Liao, Allison Mak ’09 had her strongest bars routine of the season, Sarah Hughes ’09 successfully competed in the all-around for the second time, and Sherry Yang ’11 finished her beam routine strongly after a single fall.
“Her routine was solid and beautiful,” Liao said.
After several weeks of slips, beam regained its place at the heart of Yale’s routines. Liao took first with a strong 9.7, and Allison Mak ’09 and Brigitte Kivisto ’10 tied with 9.3s and fifth place. Yang, recently recovered from a bilateral fracture that kept her from competing in the previous tournament, took eighth (9.150). Hughes finished in ninth with an 8.850.
“[My fractures] don’t really heal that fast — they’re not that terrible,” Yang said. “I’ve cut back on [practice routine] numbers so I can save my body and not hurt so badly. Other than that it’s a lot of ibuprofen.”
Kivisto, who suffered from a hand injury, was unable to perform her usual beam routine and instead had to modify it to compensate for her injury.
“Brigitte did a whole beam routine with no hands because she jammed her hand,” Yang said. “She did a whole routine without touching the beam with her hand.”
The team continues to improve on bars. Liao took second with a 9.7, and Mak finished fourth with a 9.425. Hughes, Claude de Jocas ’12 and Margaret Greenberg ’12 finished in ninth, tenth and eleventh places, respectively.
Floor brought about the Elis highest scores. Liao, with a 9.85, took first. Hughes scored a 9.4 and took fifth. With a newly added double-back tumbling pass, Mak took seventh with a 9.075. Yang took eighth with a 9.0.
As on floor, the Elis only competed four gymnasts on vault. The gymnasts that did compete, however, performed well. Mak and Liao each earned a 9.5, tied for second place — .025 points behind SCSU’s Justine Basley. Yang’s 9.1 earned her seventh place and Hughes came in tenth with an 8.1.
The competition ended with the usual awards announcements as well as a ceremony saluting the seniors. Liao, Tatsuno, Micaline Tomeo ’09 and Hughes received flowers in honor of their time at Yale. The group posed for pictures with Boola the Bulldog and finished the afternoon by signing autographs for all their fans.
“It didn’t go as planned,” Tatsuno added. “It was very unfortunate that half the senior class couldn’t compete on Senior Day. There were good things and bad things, and we all had different feelings about it, but it was good to have that closing end to our Yale career.”
Next weekend, the Elis will remain in New Haven for the Ivy Classic. Competition will begin at 1 p.m. on Saturday in the John J. Lee Amphitheater.