Though the Yale gymnastics team took third in this weekend’s four-team Ivy Classic hosted by Cornell, Yale bested the competition in uneven parallel bars and showcased strong individual performances en route to the team’s second-highest score of the season.
The Classic is an annual competition between Yale, Cornell, Brown and Penn, the four Ancient Eight schools that compete in varsity gymnastics. Yale competed against Brown and Penn earlier this year, falling to Brown at last week’s meet in New Haven and to Penn on Jan. 24, but this was the Bulldogs’ first time facing Cornell this season. Yale scored a 191.650, landing third to Cornell and Brown, both of which tied for first with scores of 193.325. The Bulldogs defeated last year’s Ivy Classic winner, Penn, which scored a 191.050, allowing Yale to avenge its earlier loss to the Quakers.
The meet serves as the midway point of the season, which will ultimately conclude with the ECAC Championships and potentially the USAG National Collegiate Championships.
“For me, overall we can walk away from the meet really proud of how we did,” Brittney Sooksengdao ’16 said. “It definitely was heartbreaking to lose. Obviously we really wanted to win, and it’s tough to lose, but at the end of the day we put everything we had out there and had a really great meet and are proud of what we did.”
Yale started the day on vault, where the Bulldogs earned a 47.025, putting the team in fourth place in the event as well as after the first rotation. Captain Camilla Opperman ’16 led Yale’s vault performance with a 9.475, followed by Allison Bushman ’18, who tied her previous career high of 9.450 and Megan Ryan ’18 with a 9.425. Though Opperman was the highest scoring Eli on vault, she did not break the top 10 overall, landing in 13th place for the day. Bushman and Ryan finished in 14th and 15th, respectively, while the top team score went to Cornell’s Malia Mackey with a 9.775.
On uneven parallel bars, Yale not only had its best performance of the 2016 campaign with a 48.675, but also tied the team’s 2012 bar score, which was the highest since 2001. This performance landed Yale first place for the event. Tatiana Winkelman ’17 tied for third overall with a career-high 9.825, while Bushman notched her second career-high of the day with a 9.800, putting her in a three-way tie for fifth with gymnasts from Brown and Cornell. Ryan placed eighth with a 9.750 for yet another Bulldog career-high.
“Bars was a highlight of the meet,” Bushman said. “It was our highest bar score of the season, but everyone did incredibly well. There were a lot of little corrections that we have made throughout the week, and a lot of stuck landings too.”
The third rotation saw Yale compete on beam, where the Bulldogs placed third in the event with a 48.250. In first for Yale was Sooksengdao, whose season-high of 9.750 put her in fourth overall. Roxanne Trachtenberg ’19 and Jessica Wang ’19 were the next-highest scoring Elis with a 9.650 each, tying them for 11th with two other competitors from Cornell and Penn — the score matched Trachtenberg’s career-high while it was a new best for Wang.
The day concluded on floor, where Yale placed fourth with a 47.700. Ryan was the Bulldogs’ top scorer with a 9.750; this was her second career-high of the day, landing her in a tie for second place overall. Kiarra Alleyne ’19 scored 9.725, which was matched by gymnasts from Cornell and Brown, resulting in another three-way tie for fourth. Opperman, whose 9.650 was the next highest Bulldog score, finished in 13th. The result was an anomaly for the captain, as she has excelled on floor all season long, including a pair of podium finishes each of the past two weekends, highlighted by a top score of 9.825 at home on Feb. 13.
“On floor we kept the energy up, which was nice even though the judges were being very hard and not giving us the scores we wanted or felt like we deserved,” Bushman said. “It was exciting to see all of my teammates being so happy for everyone that was competing.”
Anella Anderson ’17 and Ryan were two of five all-around competitors at the meet, with Ryan placing second by scoring a 38.525, a mere 0.025 points out of first place. Anderson placed fifth with a 37.450.
Though the team understands the subjectivity of the sport, Bushman said, the Bulldogs expressed a belief that some of the judges’ scoring did not seem to match the team’s level of execution. Wang said the floor and vault events seemed somewhat underscored, and Bushman added that beam felt underscored as well.
“We definitely had some really shining performances and had a really great day,” Sooksengdao said. “There is nothing on our side that didn’t go well; it felt like some of the scores on vault and on floor were not reflective of how great our vault and floor were today, so that was hard to take. That was the only thing that was a negative.”
Sooksengdao added that this weekend will “add fuel to [the team’s] fire,” and inspire the gymnasts to “come back with a vengeance” throughout the remainder of the season.
The Bulldogs have three meets against non-Ivy competition between now and the ECACs, which take place on March 19.