Yale Athletics

Another week resulted in another season-best score for the Yale gymnastics team.

After the team wrote a few new marks in the school record books at last week’s Don Tonry Invitational, the Bulldogs decided they were not ready to close the book just yet when they hosted William & Mary on Saturday. In the seniors’ final home competition, Yale came away victorious with a score of 194.700, supplanting its own score from last year’s ECACs as the third-highest team score in program history.

To their credit, the Griffins put up a competitive effort, notching a mark of 193.000 on the day, which would have been enough to top the Elis in their first four matches of the year. But Yale put up incredible performances across the board, with a 48.375 on vault coming in as the squad’s lowest score. The hosts also put up matching 48.825s on balance beam and the floor exercise, their highest event scores of the year in both. Their dominance led to an improvement of 0.425 points in their overall score from last Saturday’s invitational.

“I would [attribute] our repeated success to the support each person gives to the team. Regardless of how each of us are feeling or if we are injured, we give 100 percent effort in the gym and that allows us to keep improving every week,” Sloane Smith ’18 said. “We also have been trying to train smart at practice. Our amazing trainer, Jenny Conrad, has helped us stay healthy so we have a full lineup for each competition.”

The Bulldogs relied on their first years and sophomores during their first event of the night, the vault. First-year phenoms Alyssa Firth ’21 and Jacey Baldovino ’21 posted scores of 9.750, the highest scores for the team and a career-high total for Firth. Rebecca Chong ’20 came in right behind them, sticking her vault to earn a 9.725.

Yale picked up steam in its next event, scoring a season-best 48.675 on the uneven bars. Emma Firmstone ’20 and Jade Buford ’20, both competing in the all-around for Yale, started strongly, scoring 9.400 and 9.800, respectively. That score was a career high for Buford. Baldovino added to her all-around score with a 9.800 as well as she stuck her dismount on the routine. Megan Ryan ’21 showed off in front of the home crowd for her last time, scoring a 9.775. The highlight of the event came from Jessica Wang ’19, who earned a career-high 9.900 on a spectacular routine.

“It felt awesome for the seniors to come out of their last home meet with such a memorable win. Our performance is a result of the hard work that we put in during preseason and our ability to overcome the obstacles that came our way,” Buford said. “We achieved such a great performance because we had confidence in our own abilities and in each other.”

With balance beam came one of the Elis’ two top scores of the meet. Baldovino once again came through with a strong performance, scoring a meet and career-high 9.875 on her third event of the competition. Just as on bars, Wang and Buford also bolstered Yale’s score, earning 9.800s for their beam routines. The team’s score of 48.825 on beam is the second-highest in Yale history.

The Bulldogs capped off the night with another 48.825 on the floor exercise, finishing on a high note. The all-arounders Buford and Baldovino, as they did all throughout the meet, lifted the team with identical 9.825 scores. Firth put up her own very respectable 9.750, and Kiarra Alleyne ’19 posted a 9.700 on her second event of the meet. Smith closed out her home career with a 9.725 on the floor exercise.

“It’s pretty surreal that this past weekend was the last time I’ll compete in [the John J. Lee Amphitheater],” Smith said. “That being said however, hitting another high score made my senior meet much more exciting and fulfilling than the normal senior farewell.”

This was Yale’s third and final home meet of the year, providing a chance for the home crowd to see the seniors compete for the last time in the auditorium. It was also the team’s last meet before the upcoming Ivy Classic at Brown this weekend.

The Elis will be in good shape for that contest if they can recreate their scores from the past couple weeks. The 194.700 they scored against William & Mary this past weekend already surpasses any of their scores from last year and is the program’s highest since 2003. No other Ivy League team has surpassed 194.000 this season.

“We have already put in so much work during practice, that all we need to do in competition to succeed is have great energy and confidence in each other, which is exactly what we did this weekend,” Alleyne said. “Everyone is really excited to break more records going into next weekend, but I think the most important thing for our team is to be calm and trust in all of our training.”

Yale will continue its record-breaking season at 1 p.m. on Sunday at Brown.

Brian Yeo | brian.yeo@yale.edu