Saturday was a day of rewriting the school record books for the gymnastics team, as it took home the Don Tonry Invitational title for the first time since its inception.
The Bulldogs, who have hosted the invitational since 2015, brought their A-game in front of a crowd of alumni and other fans. Their score of 194.275 — their season high and the school’s fifth-highest team score ever — edged out runner-up Bridgeport’s score of 194.225. Southern Connecticut State came in third with a score of 191.825 and Springfield College trailed in fourth with a distant 186.000. The meet also saw a couple more broken records from the Elis; Jacey Baldovino ’21 broke the school individual beam record, and the team achieved its highest total beam score in program history.
“I was delighted to win the Don Tonry Invitational,” said coach Barbara Tonry, widow of the late Don Tonry. “The team worked hard on detail and confidence, the elements that have evaded us in some of our past meets. We’re getting better in endurance and confidence, and we just have to continue developing the mental toughness that is so necessary in competition.”
For the second week in a row, the Bulldogs scored over 48.000 in all four of their events. They started off the afternoon on vault, with Baldovino, Rebecca Chong ’20 and Alyssa Firth ’21 all scoring 9.700. This placed them in a tie for fourth place, with Firth performing a full yurchenko for her vault. As a whole, the team scored 48.375.
Yale showcased their consistency by scoring 48.350 in their next event, uneven bars, after scoring 48.475 in the event the previous week. Jessica Wang ’19 continued her stellar rebound season, scoring another 9.800 in bars; she has yet to score under 9.800 this year. Baldovino, who has now won ECAC Rookie of the Week four weeks running, put up a 9.750, and Megan Ryan ’18 scored a 9.725. Roxanne Trachtenberg ’19 added a score of 9.675 and all Yale gymnasts scored over 9.400 on bars.
The third event of the afternoon, balance beam, was the team’s best event of the day and in its history. Charlotte Cooperman started it off for Yale, fulfilling all her requirements and scoring a 9.750, all while nursing an injured hand. Every scoring Bulldog recorded over 9.700 in the event, with Baldovino topping it off with an unprecedented 9.925: the highest beam score by an individual in Yale’s history.
“Jacey did an excellent routine on beam,” Tonry said. “But her teammates before her were scoring high and helped Jacey to score even higher.”
Despite having an incredible meet to that point, Yale was tied with Bridgeport going into the last event, the floor exercise. Baldovino stepped up again, hitting a great routine to score a 9.775. However, two of the team’s gymnasts went out of bounds, leading to automatic deductions that put the Bulldogs behind. Fortunately for the team, the Elis’ last competitor of the meet, Jade Buford ’20, pulled through in the clutch by scoring 9.775 and giving Yale the lead and the victory.
Baldovino, Buford and Emma Firmstone ’20 were once again the all-around competitors for Yale. Baldovino’s score of 39.150 is the fifth-highest all-around score in the team’s history.
The Bulldogs’ score at the Don Tonry Invitational marked an almost 1.5-point improvement from its score last week at Towson. In addition, by moving past the 194-point threshold, they are nearing the 194.600-point total that gave them the victory at last year’s ECACs. With Ivies coming up in two weeks, this puts Yale in a very good position to claim that title.
“The win this weekend makes us confident moving forward that we can score 194 consistently, but also motivates us to keep improving everyday because there were mistakes that were made that can easily be fixed,” Firmstone said. “The past few weeks we have proved to ourselves that we can make our routines, so now we are focusing on small details in practice in order to improve our scores.”
The first Don Tonry Invitational took place in 2015 to honor the life of its namesake, who passed away in 2013. Tonry was a 1960 Olympic gymnast for the U.S. and is responsible for bringing the gymnastics program to Yale, coaching the men’s team until it lost its status as a varsity sport in the 1980s. Even afterward, he remained heavily involved in Yale gymnastics until his death. During his tenure, he led the team to three Ivy League titles.
“It was a very emotional moment for me [to win the Don Tonry Invitational], and I was so proud of what the women accomplished at this meet,” Barbara Tonry said. “Don loved Yale, its students and the sport of gymnastics. He was basically the catalyst for the women’s team forming when women were finally admitted to Yale. It was also great to have alums that were part of the ’70s team for women and men in the stands.”
The Bulldogs will return to action on Saturday when they host William and Mary.
Brian Yeo | firstname.lastname@example.org