Steve Musco

This Sunday, the Yale gymnastics team took an early lead to defeat Ivy rival Brown in a dual meet at John J. Lee Amphitheater. The Bulldogs, largely buoyed by a massive floor score of 48.925, edged out the Bears by a margin of 193.775–191.950, showing their dominance heading into next weekend’s Ivy Classic at Penn.

Sunday’s competition was the team’s last home meet of the season and thus served as senior night for the class of 2019. Captain Kiarra Alleyne ’19, Sarah Caldwell ’19, MC Fletcher ’19, Roxie Trachtenberg ’19 and Jessica Wang ’19 were honored for their contributions and dedication to their squad.

“As our motto [has been] for the whole season, we have built such a legacy,” Alleyne said. “Realizing that we’ve come so far from our first home meet to our last home meet, I’m really proud of my team.”

The Bulldogs began the meet on vault, where the trio of Jade Buford ’20, Alyssa Firth ’21 and Wang each recorded scores of 9.675 to contribute to a team vault total of 48.325, the Elis’ third highest of the season so far. This earned the gymnasts a three-way tie for second place on vault among all competitors. Leadoff Anna Jennings ’20 and anchor Rebecca Chong ’20 trailed closely behind with scores of 9.650 — Jennings for her tidy Yurchenko tuck full vault and Chong for her Yurchenko layout half.

Next, the Elis moved to the uneven bars, where team inconsistency overshadowed the brilliance of the individual routines. Buford led her teammates as the first Bulldog competitor on bars, notching a score of 9.750 for a clean routine which included a lofty full-in double tuck dismount and a stuck landing. Buford’s high score was well-deserved. Her swing on the bars was effortless and natural as she expertly maintained the rhythm of her routine through complex and difficult combinations.

Athletes later in the lineup further boosted the team score. Jacey Baldovino ’21 contributed an impressive performance for the Bulldogs, catching her piked jaeger release element with no trouble and showing a combination dismount to earn a score of 9.825. Lineup anchor Wang displayed the prowess which earned her the USA Gymnastics Collegiate national title on the event last year, scoring a 9.875 for her Sunday showing.

For their efforts on bars, the Elis scored a team total of 48.600. This was one of the team’s higher scores this season, but it still did not reflect Yale’s full potential on the event. While the individual gymnasts in the lineup have all proven that they are capable of clean, high-scoring routines, the Bulldogs have yet to achieve a bars rotation with all six routines free of major errors.

“On bars, some of [the gymnasts] had excellent routines and some of them had problems,” head coach Barbara Tonry said. “We have to get it together where we don’t have any problems. Overall, I was pleased with them. The seniors did a good job today.”

On the balance beam, the consistency issues which plagued the Elis early in the season returned once again, and they were forced to include a fall within the five routines that counted for the team total. Yale’s total score on beam was 47.925, only the second time this season the team was unable to break 48.000 on the event. Nonetheless, the beam rotation included several solid performances, which eventually earned Yale the top three scores of the entire competition. First, second and third went to Baldovino, Lindsay Chia ’22 and Charlotte Cooperman ’21, respectively. Chia’s confident acrobatics and elegant choreography continued to be a highlight of the Bulldog beam rotation, and she demonstrated the presence and confidence of a veteran despite it being just her second week in the beam lineup.

The Bulldogs finished the meet on floor exercise, where their consistency was key to achieving a high score that ultimately sealed the victory for Yale. Alleyne, Chong, Cooperman, and Emma Firmstone ’20 each scored 9.800, the highest floor score of the entire meet. The Elis notched a team total of 48.925 thanks to the efforts of those four as well as Buford and Firth. Buford’s performance showed her tumbling prowess, with her double pike skill as high and clean as any other — she was the only one to perform the tumble straight from a roundoff skill, omitting an intermediary back handspring skill that gymnasts typically use to gain more power.

“The energy is getting better. They’re rallying,” assistant coach Jason Collins said. “When things go bad, they’re able to get rally and not get down, which is hard in an individual sport. I wish we would have hit a little better on beam, but we did our job.”

Next weekend, the Bulldogs will take on Brown, Penn and Cornell at the Ivy Classic hosted by the Quakers.

Raymond Gao | raymond.gao@yale.edu