Sam Rubin

The Yale gymnastics team’s winning streak came to an end on Sunday, as it finished third in a tough meet involving host Pittsburgh and Towson University.

The Bulldogs went strong until they lost some of their momentum in the last event, to eventually finish with a score of 193.050. They narrowly trailed second-placed Towson (193.200), but were outclassed by a Panthers side (194.700) that was invigorated by a strong home crowd.

Recording a season high the week before, the Elis were eager to raise the bar yet again. But after winning three on the bounce, a fourth victory in a row proved too much for coach Barbara Tonry’s squad. Despite the setback, the team can take positives from its consistently strong performances in the first three events, demonstrating its ability to perform against top-tier opponents.

“We definitely had a lot of great moments this weekend,” captain Emma Firmstone ’20 said. “There were highlights on every event, and even several career highs throughout the meet. We weren’t able to put it all together the way we wanted to, but we know we have a job to finish this weekend and are going to work harder than ever in the gym this week in order to accomplish our goals.”

Yale got off to a good start on the balance beam, an event where the Bulldogs are ranked 47th nationally. The lead-off for the event was Charlotte Cooperman ’21, who didn’t disappoint with a hit set that garnered a 9.675. Lindsay Chia ’22 then followed with an exquisite routine that received a highly impressive score of 9.825. Jacey Baldovino ’21 — making her three-event debut at the tri-meet — equally impressed with a 9.800. Seniors Jade Buford ’20 and Firmstone showed their experience to record solid scores of 9.750 and 9.775, respectively. With Alyssa Firth ’21 earning a 9.425, the Blue and White’s beam lineup concluded with a huge total of 48.825.

The hot momentum exhibited on beam continued onto the floor exercise, with every single one of the lineup earning a 9.650 or higher. Buford and Firmstone led by example yet again, with scores of 9.700 and 9.650, while fellow senior Rebecca Chong ’20 wowed the crowd with an excellent routine to post a colossal 9.800. Meanwhile, Cooperman also excelled and earned a 9.775, before Baldovino came away with a solid score of 9.675. Firth rounded out the event with an equally valuable score of 9.775 to take the team total to 48.700, proving why the Bulldogs are ranked 49th in the country on the floor event.

The Elis sustained their impressive, high-scoring routines once they rotated onto vault — another event in which the Bulldogs are ranked nationally (58th). Once again, the more experienced members of the team had great showings to keep the Bulldogs in contention with Pittsburgh and Towson. Firth concluded her stellar day by posting the top score for the team, recording a 9.800 with her yurchenko full. Meanwhile, Anna Jennings ’20 made an important impact with her first routine of the day, earning a 9.625 with a yurchenko tuck-full. Cooperman and Chong had strong performances to get scores of 9.700 and 9.675, respectively. Aimee Titche ’23 continued her promising debut season with a routine that received a 9.400, before all-rounder Buford performed a front-entry vault (9.550) to take Yale’s event total to 48.350.

Despite a near-flawless showing for the first three events, the Bulldogs devastatingly fell at the final hurdle — the uneven bars. Up until then, Yale had a two-tenth lead over Towson, demonstrating how fine the margins of victory were in this highly competitive meet. Titche would have been disappointed with her two-fall 8.150, which was uncharacteristic of the talented youngster. Fellow first year Caitlin Henry ’23 put Yale back on course with a clean routine to post a 9.675, while Raegan Walker ’23 scored a 9.150, with only a fall on dismount preventing her from gaining a higher total. Chia — who earned an ECAC weekly award for her career high on bars in the last meet — would also have been frustrated, as a rare fall on her routine meant she could only reach an 8.900. However, Baldovino and Buford made sure that the Bulldogs finished strong, with each posting a great score of 9.725 to take the bars total to 47.175.

Although the Bulldogs had hoped to come away with a victory, they would have been happy with Buford earning first place in the all-around competition, with her four routines totaling a score of 38.725. Overall, Yale is now ranked 53rd in the nation, averaging a highly respectable total of 192.615 for the season.

“I was very happy with my vault, but definitely had mistakes on beam and floor that I was disappointed about,” Firth said. “As a team, we know we did not have our best meet too but are now more determined than ever to get back into the gym with positive attitudes and focus on confidence in our gymnastics and consistency.”

Yale will now set its sights on the next meet at Cornell for the Ivy Classic Championships on Feb. 23.

 

Syimyk Kyshtoobaev | syimyk.kyshtoobaev@yale.edu