The Yale gymnastics team lost in a meet against the University of New Hampshire in the John J. Lee Amphitheater this past Sunday, even though the Bulldogs recorded their highest score this season, 194.125. Despite the loss, the Elis were able to improve on the beam, repeating last meet’s stellar performances on floor.
New Hampshire proved hard to beat, outscoring Yale on each of the four events. The Wildcats also secured the top individual score on three of the apparatuses. Although the Elis managed to notch their highest score of the season this past weekend, their performances still suffered from bouts of inconsistency that afflicted both the team as a whole as well as individual gymnasts.
“I think we did really well,” captain Kiarra Alleyne ’19 said. “We obviously have some things we need to improve on, but we’re getting better every meet. We broke 194, which we haven’t done in the past two meets, so that’s super exciting.”
On floor, audiences got a third look at the squad of six that could comprise the floor lineup for the rest of season. Yale’s floor scores have risen continuously since the first meet of the year, and although the team only added 0.025 to earn 48.950 this week, they made noticeable improvements from last week. The Bulldogs showed far more control in their landings this past weekend, and while the floor rotation was not completely perfect, their performances and scores on Sunday ultimately reflected their work in the gym.
Jacey Baldovino ’21, the 2018 ECAC Rookie of the Year, returned to floor exercise as an exhibition routine, competing in the event for the first time since becoming a bars and beam specialist due to a foot injury last year. At her peak last season, she was a staple in the floor lineup, and although she is capable of strong, dynamic and clean routines, the strength of the lineup makes it unlikely to rejoin this year.
While Yale recorded its highest floor score of the season against the Wildcats, the Elis also recorded their lowest vault score of 2019 — a 48.175 total. Vault has been a perennial weakness for the Bulldogs, due in large part to their low difficulty scores. The vast majority of Yale routines on the uneven bars, beam and floor have a start value of 10.0, while Yale’s vaults all start at 9.9 or 9.95.
The biggest issue eating away the Bulldog vault scores are steps on landing. Unlike on floor, where gymnasts are not penalized for taking a controlled lunge on landing, vaults must be stuck for full marks. Largely due to the Elis’ lack of stuck landings, the Wildcats ended up taking the top four individual vault scores of the meet — an enormous advantage given that team scores of each event are calculated as the sum of the five best individual scores.
“Every one of those hops or steps is a deduction,” head coach Barbara Tonry said. “Right now, we just have to keep tweaking. We just have to iron it out, and they’re on their way. I’m very happy with where we are. They’re a very talented group.”
The uneven bars and balance beam were a mixed bag for the Bulldogs. The first Yale gymnast on the uneven bars suffered a fall. Despite this, Roxie Trachtenberg ’19 performed an exquisite routine that earned her a 9.725. Her form throughout the routine was noticeably better than last week. Unfortunately, she took a big lunge back after her high and powerful double layout dismount, which no doubt will be a highlight of the team’s bars rotation once she is more comfortable with the landing.
For the first half of the beam rotation, it seemed that the Bulldogs had erased all memories of their tentative performance last weekend. While some routines suffered from long-standing issues — namely, lack of extension in split positions and small adjustments on dismounts — most displayed impressive confidence, especially on acrobatic elements performed on the beam. A number of gymnasts also stuck their dismounts. Alleyne, Emma Firmstone ’20 and Jessica Wang ’19 recorded the highest beam scores for Yale on Sunday, all 9.750.
“I was proud of my performances today, both on the bars and the beam,” Wang said. “I’m pretty happy with 2nd [on bars] and 3rd [on beam].”
Before the meet against the University of New Hampshire, Jade Buford ’20 was named Gymnast of the Week by the ECAC following the home meet against Penn two weekends ago.
The Bulldogs will host Bridgeport, SCSU and Springfield for the Don Tonry Invitational this Saturday at noon.
Raymond Gao | firstname.lastname@example.org .