Courtesy of Sam Rubin ’95

The Yale gymnastics team took its second consecutive Ivy Classic title this past Sunday and its 16th of all time. The Bulldogs dominated their rivals in the Ancient Eight, recording a team total of 195.100 against second-place Cornell’s score of 193.925. Penn ranked a close third with 193.100, and Brown rounded out the quad meet in fourth place.

The Elis’ team total of 195.100 was the second highest score in team history and the Bulldogs’ first score above 195 this season. This high score was well-deserved for a performance that showed just what the Bulldogs are capable of when they overcome the consistency issues that dogged them earlier in the season. In addition to notching a near-record overall score, the Bulldogs also achieved a school-record beam total of 49.125 and the second highest vault total in program history, a 48.750.

“Over the last couple weeks, the coaches have definitely geared practices toward working on our consistency,” captain Kiarra Alleyne ’19 said. “Furthermore, they’ve emphasized the importance of focusing on the little details within our routines. Everyone stepped up [on Sunday], had each other’s back and did their job, so everything else fell into place. It was a really amazing meet, and I’m so proud of the team.”

Yale started its competition on floor exercise, which is usually the Elis’ best event but proved to be uncharacteristically shaky on the day. The Bulldogs tallied 48.475 for their efforts on the apparatus, a drop of nearly five tenths from their score of 48.925 at their senior meet two weekends ago. Despite having a couple of mishaps, the Yale floor lineup included several highlights as well. Emma Firmstone ’20 was the first Eli to perform, earning a 9.700 for her routine, which included a well-rotated double pike to open and a Rudi — a front somersault in straight-body position with 1.5 twists — connected directly to a high split jump.

Alleyne and Alyssa Firth ’21 were the last two Bulldog competitors to perform on floor and recorded scores of 9.825 and 9.800, respectively — the third and fourth highest floor scores of the entire meet. Firth showed an impressive front layout double twist to punch front tuck, performing the difficult combination with ease and sticking the landing. And Alleyne anchored the Bulldog lineup, showing off her tidy tumbling and bringing life to her unique, expressive choreography.

“Floor is always difficult to start on, [and] it was minor areas that added to an unusually rough start,” assistant coach Jason Collins said. “However, [the gymnasts] have been working hard as a unit to show up for each other as a team, and that work is now becoming evident, as we saw on bars and obviously on beam as well.”

Yale rotated next to the vault, where the team posted its second-highest score of all time, a 48.750. Lead-off Anna Jennings ’20 set a season-high of 9.750 with a Yurchenko tucked full vault, adjusting her landing with just a tiny hop. Firth was the last vaulter to perform for Yale, showing a tidy Yurchenko layout full with good body position in the air. She recorded a season high of 9.775, which Charlotte Cooperman ’21 matched. The two tied for third place among all vault competitors.

After vault, the Bulldogs moved to the uneven bars, where they tied their vault total of 48.750 to overtake the Big Red, who had opened an early lead over the Elis with strong performances on vault and bars. Jade Buford ’20, who had represented the Bulldogs on floor and vault, continued her all-around competition with a 9.600 on bars, sticking her lofty full-in double tuck dismount. The trio of Lindsay Chia ’22, Jacey Baldovino ’21 and Jessica Wang ’19 pushed the team total even higher, with each scoring in the 9.8 range to apply further pressure to Yale’s Ivy rivals.

Chia was troubled by her reverse grip pirouette combination two weekends ago, but she performed it effortlessly on Sunday, earning a 9.800 for her work, which tied her for fourth among all competitors. Baldovino earned the highest bars score of the entire meet, which was well-deserved by her clean giant full to double tuck dismount combination.

Entering the final rotation, the Elis led second-place Penn by 0.450, a sizeable margin. However, Yale would end the competition on balance beam, an especially unpredictable event — the beam is less than four inches wide. The Bulldogs toughened up under pressure, and all six gymnasts hit their routines without falls, the first time Yale has produced a perfect beam rotation in six weeks. The team recorded its highest beam total of all time, with a 49.125.

Chia set a new career high score on beam with a 9.875, working the apparatus aggressively with confident acrobatics and a stuck cat leap to side aerial to layout full dismount combination. Wang tied Chia’s score with an impressive routine of her own, showing no signs of tentativeness in her impressive tumbling sequences. The pair of 9.875’s from Chia and Wang were good for first place in the entire meet.

“I was super proud of myself for getting a 9.800 on bars and a new career high of 9.875 on beam to tie with [Wang] as Ivy Classic beam champion,” Chia said. “It was such a great atmosphere; we were definitely the loudest and most fun team out there dancing and laughing the whole time.”

This past weekend, the Bulldogs showed what they are capable of on a perfect day, despite the minor issues that occurred during the earlier rotations. Maintaining this consistency will be key as they travel over the next few weeks to face nationally-ranked teams, and eventually their conference rivals at the ECAC Championships in late March.

Next weekend, the No. 49 Elis travel to No. 27 Penn State for a quad meet, where they will face No. 56 Cornell, No. 21 Arizona State and the Nittany Lions.

Raymond Gao |