The Yale gymnastics team convincingly won its first home meet of the season on Saturday, showcasing the team’s strong potential and proving that they have what it takes to take back the ECAC title from Temple.

The Bulldogs posted a score of 192.850, finishing well ahead of Rhode Island (176.050), to the delight of the Yale support who generated an electric atmosphere throughout the meet. Yale showed a substantial improvement from the week before.

Despite having expected to perform better at the Bridgeport quad meet, the Elis didn’t let the disappointment of the third-place finish weigh them down. Instead, the Blue and White — buoyed by a raucous support — came straight back to post a new season-high total. In addition, Bulldogs wonderfully executed routines across all four events, clinching all three awards on podium for each event.

“I am so proud of the work the team put in last week,” Anna Jennings ’20 said. “We plan on going into this week with the same mindset: train for the team, keep the energy up and enjoy each day for what it is. We know what needs work, so it will be all about staying focused on our goals each competition.”

Yale began its home meet with vault and dominated the event, winning the top six award placements. Jennings was a reliable starter, placing sixth with a 9.500 and paving the way for the rest of the line up to post equally impressive scores. The seniors continued to lead by example when Jade Buford ’20 produced a great front entry vault, and Rebecca Chong ’20 carried out a fast-paced Yurchenko half to post scores of 9.625 and 9.700, respectively. However, it was first year Aimee Titche ’23 who produced the best performance, sticking a fantastic landing to win the event title with a 9.725. The event total was 48.300.

Yale then managed to secure a 47.425 in bars — almost equaling its highest uneven bars total of the season. Titche kicked off the event with a solid hit routine and a decent landing to post a score of 9.250. Buford then wowed the crowd with an amazing 9.850 — a new career and season high for the senior — and finished the routine with a perfect landing. Although she fell just short of Buford’s score, Jacey Baldovino ’21 equally performed an amazing, fast paced routine, with a near-flawless landing that warranted a 9.775. Lindsay Chia ’22, meanwhile, competed a new bar routine, hitting the full and half dismount landing (9.575).

Despite failing to complete her routine the first time, Caitlin Henry ’23 deserves huge credit for the manner in which she got back up and redeemed the error under pressure, with a landed double-layout dismount, to achieve a respectable 8.400. The way in which the team rallied behind her with such enthusiasm was reflective of the strong chemistry that head coach Barbara Tonry has created.

“Our team is always supportive of one another and we never fail to cheer each other on, even if we do fall during a routine,” Chia said. ”It’s also super understandable to feel nervous and make mistakes, especially at these first few meets, so we will always try to keep the team in good spirits.”

Balance beam then followed with the Elis continuing to impress, breaking the 48.700 target which they had set. Charlotte Cooperman ’21 proved a solid lead-off, performing her routine with no mistakes and achieving a 9.625. Chia then continued the momentum, sticking a perfect landing to post a 9.675. Baldovino and captain Emma Firmstone ’20 amazed with excellent routines that demonstrated their talent, before finishing with great landings, to achieve stunning scores of 9.800 and 9.825. However, it was Buford who really ignited the crowd, when she almost slipped but showed expert skill to stay standing on the 4-inch-wide beam and finished with a flawless landing, warranting a 9.600 from the judges.

The meet concluded with the floor event. The Bulldogs posted yet another high event total — this time a 48.450. Sofia Menemenlis ’20 led the lineup with a solid routine that garnered a 9.550. Meanwhile, Baldovino hugely impressed with a big performance where she stuck all three landings and posted a score of 9.750 — a notable improvement on the 9.350 she received the previous weekend. Cooperman and Chong followed with a strong 9.750 and 9.625, before Alyssa Firth ’21 and Buford closed out the event with equally flawless routines.

“I felt I really improved my floor routine in practice last week, working on clean landings and good form, and it paid off at the meet,” Baldovino said. ”The team also stepped up this past week during practice, concentrating on the little details and making every turn count, which allowed us to win the meet with our season high.”

Yale will be performing at home again next Saturday, when they host the Don Tonry Invitational. Competition is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. in the John J. Lee Amphitheater.

 

Syimyk Kyshtoobaev | syimyk.kyshtoobaev@yale.edu