The Yale gymnastics team left Maryland this weekend as the fifth-place finisher in a five-team meet. The only number that truly mattered, however, was not fifth, but 192.275: a season-high score for the Bulldogs that brought them ever closer to a qualifying score for the USAG National Collegiate Championships.
In a meet that pitted Yale against four top programs, including No. 22 George Washington, the Bulldogs achieved the result thanks to consistent performances on all four apparatuses. The 192.275 improved Yale’s regional qualifying score from 190.885 to 191.400, less than five tenths below the 191.885 RQS that qualified the 2015 Bulldogs for the USAG National Collegiate Championships. Many gymnasts nabbed career highs during their rotations, including Anella Anderson ’17, whose cumulative score in four events was a career high for all-around.
“Notoriously, we are a lower team compared to the teams we competed against,” Kiarra Alleyne ’19 said. “But when we went in, we were really proud of how we competed. We belonged in that competition with them.”
Yale started on uneven parallel bars, where the Bulldogs scored a 47.950. Though this was the team’s second-strongest performance of the day, it fell below season highs amassed at competitions over the past several weekends, making it the team’s third-lowest bars score of the season. Allison Bushman ’18 led Yale’s scores with a 9.700, followed by Tatiana Winkelman ’17 with a 9.675. Jessica Wang ’19, who has led the Bulldogs on the apparatus with some consistency this year, scored a 9.600, while Anderson began her day with a 9.500.
Yale then scored a 47.800 in its beam rotation, which was the team’s lowest score of the day despite multiple strong individual performances. Wang led the Bulldogs with a 9.775, tying her career high, while Winkelman scored a new career mark of 9.725. Anderson continued all-around competition with a 9.600, while Roxanne Trachtenberg ’19 posted a 9.500 and a fall from Megan Ryan ’18 resulted in a score of 9.200.
“We tied our season high [overall] score which was really exciting, and we got that score with counting a fall on beam,” captain Camilla Opperman ’16 said. “The last time we got this score, everyone hit their routines. This time, we were counting a fall on beam, which means that we are getting better overall.”
Floor was the highlight of the Bulldogs’ day, with their 48.675 putting them in third behind George Washington and Maryland. Because Yale lacked a sixth competitor, the Bulldogs were unable to drop their lowest score, but this did not end up mattering: Every Bulldog managed a career- or season-high score, with the exception of Opperman, who still led the team with a 9.850. Alleyne tied this score, which for her was a career high, and Ryan rebounded from beam to tie a career high of 9.750.
The Bulldogs finished on vault with a 47.850, where Opperman again led Yale with a 9.675, while Trachtenberg scored a career-high 9.650. Wang, who had not yet competed on vault during her Yale career, debuted with a 9.500, and Anderson concluded her all-around competition with a 9.425. Anderson finished with a career-high 38.175 all-around score, which placed eighth out of nine for the day, followed by Yale’s other all-arounder Ryan, who scored a 38.000.
“Generally beam and bar are our strongest events, but we really stepped up our game on floor and vault,” Opperman said. “We felt that our scores were more reflective of our performances this week. We have been focusing on detailing our floor and vault performances, which showed at this meet.”
Trachtenberg added that the team is still working to combine the strong beam and bars performances from previous weeks with the successful vault and floor performances from this past weekend. Detailing and mental toughness are being emphasized in practice along with keeping energy high, she said.
George Washington won the meet with a 195.725, and the Bulldogs’ performance, though tying a season best, was more than a point below fourth-place Pittsburgh, which posted a 193.475.
This coming weekend, Yale will compete in two competitions. The first meet will take place at Bridgeport on March 10, before Yale again faces George Washington on the road on March 13.