Bolstered by several outstanding individual performances, including a first-place all-around finish by breakout freshman Jade Buford ’20, the Yale gymnastics team finished in third place at the Ivy Classic on Saturday, ending the day with a score of 192.875.
The Bulldogs hosted the four-team meet, welcoming Cornell, Penn and Brown. Less than a point separated the first- and fourth-place teams, with Cornell claiming its second-straight Ivy championship with a score of 193.325. Penn came in second with 192.925, just 0.050 ahead of the Elis, with Brown rounding out the meet in fourth at 192.400 points. However, it was Buford who stole the show, taking home the Ivy all-around title — only the 14th Yale gymnast to do so and the first since 2010.
“As a team, we are very proud of what we did at the Ivy Classic this weekend,” Meg Ryan ’18 said. “We left it all out on the floor and have no regrets. We overcame obstacles, and in the end, we were able to re-focus and turn it around on the last two events. Overall, it was not the outcome we wanted, but we are very proud of what we accomplished this weekend.”
Buford added to her impressive debut season, netting a career-high all-around score of 39.025 on her way to securing the Ivy League all-around title.
In doing so, she followed up last week’s 9.900 on the floor with a 9.850 at the Classic. Buford rounded out her meet with career highs in the uneven bars and the vault, where she finished fifth with a 9.750 and tied for sixth with a 9.675, respectively.
“To be honest, I was really surprised when my name was called because there were so many good competitors. It was a really humbling experience,” Buford said. “The support from my team and my confidence in my routines enabled me to perform so well. The home crowd made the meet feel like any other home meet and helped ease any nerves I had.”
Ryan also came away with a great day for Yale, winning the uneven bars with a career-high 9.850 on what was the team’s best event of the meet. The Bulldogs earned five of the top six scores on the uneven bars en route to earning a 48.875 team score on the apparatus, the second-highest in program history. In addition to Ryan’s top score, Ella Anderson ’17 tallied a career-high 9.800 to place third, with captain Tatiana Winkelman ’17 on her tail with a 9.775, Buford in fifth and Roxanne Trachtenberg ’19 in sixth.
The Elis also put up a record day on vault, as their 48.575 score was also the second-best in Yale history. Ryan’s instrumental 9.800 second-place finish was the seventh-highest vault ever scored by a Yale gymnast. Rebecca Chong ’20 finished in a tie for fourth, followed career-high fifth-place performance by Anna Jennings ’20. Trachtenberg and Buford tied for sixth with a 9.675.
The Bulldogs continued with great individual scores on the floor exercise, claiming three of the top five spots. Emma Firmstone ’20 put up a high mark of 9.775 to tie for second, trailing Buford, while Kiarra Alleyne ’19 placed fourth with a 9.700.
Though the team suffered four falls on the balance beam, its performance in other events made up for it. Buford placed in fourth in the event with a 9.750, and Winkelman was the other Bulldog in the top 10 with a ninth-place finish, scoring 9.600.
“I’m most proud of our mental toughness, our ability to set aside our trouble on beam and compete in two phenomenal events afterwards,” Winkelman said. “Mentally flipping that switch is very hard to do and doing that is a testament to all 17 girls’ intensity and commitment to this team. If anything, knowing how close we were to that title has fueled our fire and strengthened our resolve to win at ECACs.”
Yale’s score of 192.875 is its third highest this season and marked the fifth time the team surpassed the 192.000 mark. The Elis also finished in third at the Ivy Classic last year.
Though the Bulldogs were not able to come away with the Ivy Championship, they will have another chance to face the same teams at the ECAC Championship at Brown in three weeks. There, Yale will test itself against a lineup that includes all four Ivy competitors plus Temple and William & Mary.
“At the end of the day, we walked out of the meet with our heads held high,” Anderson said. “I think that Yale gymnastics will go into our ECAC competition against these teams with a vengeance.”
Yale will compete next at University of New Haven on March 5.