Lukas Flippo

The Yale gymnastics team convincingly saw off Brockport on Sunday, securing their senior class the perfect send off for the final home meet of their Yale careers.

The senior class — Jade Buford ’20, Rebecca Chong ’20, Emma Firmstone ’20, Carly Israel ’20, Anna Jennings ’20 and Sofia Menemenlis ’20 — have been an integral part of Yale gymnastics and a major reason for the team’s recent successes. These have included the program’s first ever Eastern College Athletic Conference championship, before going on to win it a second time, as well as Yale’s 15th and 16th Ivy Classic team titles.

Having recorded a season-high the week before, the Elis raised the bar yet again to post a new season-high of 194.175. It was evident that the Blue and White were determined to keep up the incredible momentum that it had generated this season and the squad certainly delivered in front of a galvanized home crowd. Sunday’s win now means that the Bulldogs have won four out of five meets in 2020, including the last three in a row.

“Overall we were really happy with our vault and bar,” assistant coach Andy Leis said. “We had season-highs in both events so we were really excited about that and we’ve been working really hard in the gym to improve. We had some minor mistakes in beam and floor but we know now that if we put it all together we can achieve all the goals we wanted.”

Yale began its final home meet of the season with vault and got off to the best possible start with a season-high of 48.725. Aimee Titche ’23 and Alyssa Firth ’21 impressed in particular, with both achieving an astronomical 9.800 — even higher than the 9.750 and 9.775 they posted in the previous meet. Jennings continued to be a reliable lead-off for the team, as she performed a solid routine and received a 9.675. Fellow seniors Buford and Chong continued the momentum and posted scores of 9.725 and 9.700, respectively, sandwiching the well-executed 9.700 routine performed by Charlotte Cooperman ’21.

After rotating to the uneven bars, the Elis continued to amaze the home crowd and posted yet another season-high at the meet, receiving a total of 48.700 for the event. The first years in the team proved their reliability as Titche and Caitlin Henry ’23 — the opening two in the lineup — posted scores of 9.475 and 9.075, respectively. Raegan Walker ’23 also made a mark with a routine that garnered a 9.725. Lindsay Chia ’22 then followed with a flawless routine and stuck a perfect landing to receive a staggering 9.825 — a score matched by Jacey Baldovino ’21 who equally impressed. But it was Buford who stood out from the rest with an amazing 9.850 routine, a fitting performance for the senior’s final home meet.

“I was really happy with my bars performance,” Chia said. “I’ve been a lot more consistent in the gym and being able to show it off in a routine in competition was really amazing. In terms of how everybody is doing, we’ve honestly been looking a lot better in the gym, and really working hard and showing off. I’m really excited because we’re trying to hit a 195 [meet total] and I think it’s going to come soon.”

The Bulldogs then rotated to the balance beam event, but failed to match the two season-highs set in the previous two events. However, the team would still have been satisfied with a solid event score of 48.250. Cooperman took the role of lead-off for this meet and duly delivered with a 9.675. Chia then followed and continued her supreme performances at the meet with yet another 9.825, to the delight of the crowd. Unfortunately, Firth couldn’t quite match the score of the sophomore but would have been satisfied with her own 9.075. Captain Firmstone and Buford seemed unfazed by the emotional significance of the meet and went on to post great scores of 9.350 and 9.650. Baldovino was another notable performer, with her own routine receiving a stunning 9.750.

The Blue and White then concluded its rotations for the day with floor exercise. The seniors once again delivered some of the best performances with Firmstone leading off with an amazing 9.700, before Buford and Chong recorded scores of 9.725 and 9.625. Considering her impressive performance the week before receiving a 9.725, Baldovino would have been disappointed with her 8.900, but the encouragement from her teammates showed that they were fully behind her and was reflective of the strong chemistry within the team. Fellow junior Cooperman impressed the judges, with her performance garnering a 9.625. Firth rounded off the event with a top-class performance, as she dazzled the crowd with her strong routine and received a 9.775.

“I was happy to be a solid lead off for the team [for floor],” captain Firmstone said. “I just want to get back to the gym and keep on working to improve my score. I think today showed all the potential that we have because we got our season-high on vault and bars and even though we had some little mistakes on beam and floor, we still got our season-high [meet total] so I think that shows a lot of promise for us this season.”

The Bulldogs will now set their sights on their next meet against Pittsburgh and Towson on Feb. 15, with the meet kicking off at 2 p.m.

Syimyk Kyshtoobaev | syimyk.kyshtoobaev@yale.edu