This past Saturday, Yale gymnasts Jade Buford ’20 and Jessica Wang ’19 traveled to Penn State to compete as individual qualifiers in the NCAA Regionals. Buford competed in the all-around, securing 10th place with a score of 38.775. Wang, meanwhile, competed solely in uneven bars, scoring 9.075 to finish in 40th place in the event.
Although three Bulldogs initially qualified for the competition, Jacey Baldovino ’21 was unable to compete due to a foot injury. In her absence, Buford and Wang represented Yale, marking Yale’s first appearance at regionals since 2005. However, neither Eli will be able to advance onward to the national championships in two weeks as their final results did not allow them to qualify. Instead, they will close their season at the USA Gymnastics College Championship next weekend.
“It was such an honor to qualify to NCAA Regionals and represent Yale Gymnastics at such a large competition,” Buford said. “The University of Florida and Washington gymnastics teams perform at such a competitive level, and competing amongst those talented athletes was one of the highlights of my season.”
Buford entered regionals coming off a crucial performance at ECACs, helping lead Yale to its second consecutive title with her 39.150 in the all-around. The ECAC Athlete of the Year has been averaging around a 38.700 this season with a season-best of 39.250.
On Saturday, Buford scored highest in the floor exercise, nailing a 9.775 to tie for 25th among all competitors. On the balance beam, her second-highest scoring event, she scored 9.750, which tied her for 22nd place. She also earned a score of 9.700 on uneven bars, placing in the top 30 in the event. In her fourth event, the vault, Buford scored 9.550.
“My goal going into regionals was to hit four [out of] four routines, and I accomplished my goal. I am looking forward to competing with my full team again this weekend at USAG Nationals,” Buford said.
Overall, out of 15 competitors in the all-around, which includes six individual qualifiers who did not compete with their teams, Buford placed 10th. Alex McMurtry of the University of Florida finished the competition with the highest mark of 39.725.
Wang competed as a specialist in bars, an event in which she has dominated all season. She has consistently been the team’s highest scorer in the event, notching a career best of 9.900 twice. At regionals, however, Wang struggled with a score of 9.075, by far her lowest mark of the year. Her previous low score was 9.575 at Bridgeport.
Florida won regionals with a team score of 197.725, with Washington narrowly trailing in second at 196.275. Those two teams will advance to nationals on April 20.
Though only Buford and Wang competed this week, the rest of the team will swing back into action at the USAG National Championships this Friday.
Brian Yeo | email@example.com