The Yale gymnastics team added to its season momentum this weekend with a strong showing against fierce Big Ten competition in New Jersey on Saturday.
After setting 11 individual season or career highs at the Don Tonry Invitational meet the weekend before, the Bulldogs added eight more personal records en route to recording a team score of 190.300 in the meet. The performance, led by a season-high total on vault, marked the Bulldogs’ second-consecutive team showing of over 190.000 points. No. 23 Ohio State and hosting school Rutgers finished ahead of Yale with scores of 196.350 and 194.900, respectively.
“The team has come so far over the past few meets,” captain Camilla Opperman ’16 said. “Our team score has gone up, we have gotten more consistent and individuals have upgraded their skills in competition. Beyond this, the team has been performing with so much more confidence than at the beginning of the season.”
The team’s largest success on Saturday came on the vault, with Opperman, Megan Ryan ’18 and Roxanne Trachtenberg ’19 all setting career-high marks. Ryan led the way for Yale on the apparatus with a score of 9.750, which beat her previous career best of 9.600 from just a week earlier.
Though various injuries to team members allowed Yale to compete with just five gymnasts in the event rather than the standard six, the Bulldogs were still able to emerge with a season-best team score of 48.025 on vault.
“This ability to perform well under immense pressure is exactly the kind of determination and mental toughness that a championship-winning team needs to have,” Opperman said.
On balance beam, fellow senior Brittney Sooksengdao ’16 posted a score of 9.700, pacing the team’s cumulative 47.800 total for the event. Additional career highs for Ryan and Trachtenberg followed Sooksengdao’s performance, and Anella Anderson ’17 finished fourth among Bulldogs on beam, contributing to a career-best 38.025 all-around performance for the junior.
Again hampered by injuries, the Bulldogs competed short-handed on the floor exercise, in which Opperman, a floor specialist, secured the team’s best score, a 9.625. With all five scores for Yale counting on the apparatus, the Bulldogs notched a combined team score of 46.800.
In the meet’s fourth event, uneven bars, Yale recorded a total of 47.675 points, 9.725 of which came from a season-high score for Allison Bushman ’18, who led the Bulldogs.
“[Bushman] has put in so much time and numbers into her bars work, and it really showed this weekend,” Tatiana Winkelman ’17 said.
Anderson, Winkelman and Trachtenberg all posted scores above 9.500, and Opperman scored a 9.250 in the event to round out the Bulldogs’ scoring performance.
Despite their incidence of injury this season, Yale’s team nonetheless remains confident in its overall team improvement as the Elis prepare for their final meet of the season and a potential appearance in the USA Gymnastics Collegiate Nationals.
Yale currently owns the last of eight qualifying spots for the national event, which will be held April 8–10 in St. Charles, Missouri. Last year, the team qualified for Nationals as a team for the first time in over 10 years after a 2014–15 season-high score of 193.575.
The Bulldogs will look to solidify their standing with successful performances in several upcoming meets, including the Ivy Classic on Feb. 28 and the ECAC Championships on March 19.
“Those currently in the lineup have performed extremely well and continue to upgrade in order to keep improving their scores,” Sloane Smith ’18 said. “We have definitely been progressing these past two weeks and have shown that we have the ability to make nationals again this year.”
The Bulldogs will host West Chester University and Rhode Island College for their Senior Day meet this Saturday at 1 p.m. as they celebrate Opperman and Sooksengdao’s final home meet of their Yale careers.