Securing its second-best score of the season at 194.050, the Yale gymnastics team took third place in a quad meet hosted by George Washington this past Friday.
The home team narrowly edged out silver medalist New Hampshire with a final score of 195.400–194.925. William and Mary took fourth place with 189.925. In a previous dual meet hosted at home, Yale took second to New Hampshire.
“The team edged itself closer to a united belief in their abilities,” assistant coach Jason Collins said. “We had more career highs again this weekend and broke four school records while keeping our score above 194. [The gymnasts] are starting to believe in themselves, and I am looking forward to seeing them unite as ‘Yale Gymnastics’ this weekend.”
The Bulldogs started the meet on floor, where they suffered slightly compared to their performances in previous weeks. While all Yale gymnasts scored above a 9.500 — with the highest score of 9.750 coming from Alyssa Firth ’21 — there was a lack of high scores in the 9.800–9.900 range that have largely buoyed Yale’s total floor scores during this season thus far. As a result, the Elis tallied just 48.475 for their efforts on floor exercise on Friday, nearly half a point below the Yale score from the Don Tonry Invitational at home last Sunday.
Yale next moved to the vault, where the gymnasts put up one of their stronger showings this season. The Elis earned a total score of 48.350. In an interesting development, Jacey Baldovino ’21 re-entered into the lineup. Baldovino became a specialist on bars and beam in the middle of last season after suffering an injury to her plantar fascia, and she only recently returned to floor exercise last Sunday. Her performance of a difficult Yurchenko full twist vault was good for a score of 9.550, and strongly signals her possible return to the all-around later this season. On vault, Firth once again notched the Bulldogs’ top score, as well as a season best for herself, with a 9.750. Rebecca Chong ’20 achieved the same score with a tidy Yurchenko half twist vault.
On the uneven bars, the Elis suffered two falls, one of which counted in the team, total, bringing the Bulldogs overall score down to 48.200 from 48.675 the previous weekend. Yale’s uneven bar lineup featured two of the first years on the team, Lindsay Chia ’22 and Kendal Toy ’22, both of whom scored 9.675 for their efforts. While Chia has been a consistent performer for the Bulldogs for the past several weeks, Toy entered the competition for the first time on Friday after showing stronger routines each week in exhibition.
“I’m really excited that I made lineup and hit my routine,” Toy said. “I’m excited to see the improvement from last week to this upcoming meet, not only individually but as a team as well.”
Veteran Baldovino showed no struggles with her piked jaeger skill — which she fell on last Sunday — additionally sticking her double back dismount to score a 9.800, the fourth highest bars score in the entire competition. Furthermore, Jessica Wang ’19, the reigning USA Gymnastics Collegiate National Champion on the uneven bars, did not disappoint in her role as the lineup anchor. Wang’s expert showing earned her a 9.875, the highest bars score of the meet.
On the Elis’ final event, the balance beam, the Bulldogs finally showed their potential after facing consistency issues over the past few weeks. The gymnasts scored a team total of 49.025, just 0.025 off from the highest beam score in program history, demonstrating just how formidable the Bulldogs can be when they perform to their abilities. Chia made a splash in her first weekend in the beam lineup, receiving a score of 9.850, including a 9.900 from one judge — good for third in the entire meet.
“It was super exciting to actually be in the beam lineup this meet,” Chia said. “There was a lot of pressure especially since one of my teammates fell before I had to go, and beam was our last event. I just told myself to breathe and focus on my routine and not anything else.”
A longstanding pillar in the beam lineup, Charlotte Cooperman ’21 set a career record with a 9.825 for her tidy beam set, which included a stuck dismount. She kicked off the beam rotation confidently and passed that momentum onto her teammates. Additionally, Baldovino, who set the school record on balance beam with a 9.925 last season, pulled close to her record mark by scoring a 9.900 on Friday -— which landed her second among all balance beam competitors while setting a season high for both herself and the team.
The results from the meet dropped Yale one spot from No. 45 to No. 46 in the NCAA rankings. This coming Sunday at 1 p.m., the Bulldogs face Ivy rival Brown at home in John J. Lee Amphitheater.
“I hope the arena is full and people come and watch artists as athletes,” said Collins.
Raymond Gao | email@example.com