The Yale gymnastics team headed to Maryland this past Friday to face off against Towson, also attended by North Carolina and Ursinus. The Bulldogs showed promise in their season’s third meet by posting a score of 192.050, their highest total so far this year, as they finished in third place.
Season highs were plentiful on the day for the Eli gymnasts as they demonstrated their improvement from last week’s meet against Penn. Scoring over 48.000 in three of the competition’s four events, the Bulldogs were especially impressive on vault and uneven bars where they were awarded scores of 48.400 and 48.700. Though a couple mistakes on beam — where they scored 46.875 — hurt their standing, the team improved on every other event from last week. That was enough to top fourth-place finisher Ursinus by almost five points. Ahead of Yale, the Tar Heels took the victory with a high score of 194.600 and the hosting Tigers trailed in second, scoring 194.275.
“[We have] so much potential that hasn’t been fulfilled and the team is excited for the rest of the season and to see that potential come to fruition,” Sloane Smith ’18 said. “As for the negatives, it’s sometimes hard to have fluke mistakes happen after all the hard work we have put in, but it is part of the sport.”
The Bulldogs started their competition off on the beam, with Jacey Baldovino ’21 continuing her great start to her collegiate career by scoring a 9.600 and placing ninth at the event. Five other team members also delivered routines for the event, all scoring between 9.450 and 9.200. Towson achieved the meet high score of 48.700.
After a rocky start to the night, the Elis bounced back on the floor exercise, earning a 48.000. Jade Buford ’20, competing in the all-around, nailed her routine to earn a spot on the podium in a tie for second place. She scored a 9.800, just 0.250 below first-place finisher Khazia Hislop of UNC. Baldovino, joining Buford in the all-around, also placed in the top ten with a 9.750, her first career high on the night. Both Emma Firmstone ’20 and Smith impressed as well, earning matching scores of 9.700.
“We are a really close and competitive team,” Firmstone said, “so we’re able to rely on ourselves and each other to stay motivated and keep working hard.”
Yale carried its momentum into the vault competition, posting a 48.400 which is a season high and the sixth-highest vault score in school history. Rebecca Chong ’20 contributed the team’s best score, as her 9.750 was good enough to land her in the top five. Buford continued adding to her night by posting a 9.725 to finish a spot below Chong. Her fellow all-arounder Baldovino earned herself another career high with 9.675 to capture 10th place. Alyssa Firth ’21, Roxanne Trachtenberg ’19 and Firmstone all made significant contributions to the team’s score as well, with no one scoring below a 9.525.
The last event of the night gave the Elis an opportunity to finish the meet strong. They scored a season-high 48.700 on the bars, which was second best at the meet. Jessica Wang ’19 and Baldovino, once again setting a career high, dominated the event with matching 9.800s to share the second spot on the podium. Wang also scored a 9.800 against Penn, demonstrating her consistency. Megan Ryan ’18, with a 9.750, and Trachtenberg, who scored 9.700, both entered the top 10 while Buford trailed with a 9.650.
“Some of the key factors were keeping the energy up during the meet and maintaining a high motivation to keep competing strong with each and every routine,” Wang said.
Baldovino had a great night all-around, earning a combined score of 38.825, as did Buford, who posted a similar score of 38.625. They were fourth and fifth out of the all-around competitors, respectively.
The Bulldogs, who had a similar improvement ahead of their meet last year, are showing consistent development. They are inching closer to their score of 194.600 from the ECAC Championships, though they are still two months out from their title defense bid.
Yale will have its next opportunity to better its score this Friday as it travels to take on Iowa State, West Virginia and Northern Illinois. The next chance to see the Bulldogs at home will come the following week during the Don Tonry Invitational.
“This team is so talented, and we are all confident that we can defend our ECAC title,” Smith said. “Some key things moving forward [are] developing lineups that really build on each other and keep our scores going up. In addition, we need to recognize certain skills or events that we might be less confident in, and realize how to build that confidence to reach a new record score that we all know is possible.”
Brian Yeo | firstname.lastname@example.org