Lukas Flippo

The Yale gymnastics team finished second in the Ivy Classic meet hosted by Cornell on Sunday.

Although the Elis — who finished first in 2019 — hoped to retain their title, various individuals still gave strong performances that give reason for optimism as the season nears the halfway point. The Bulldogs posted a score of 193.800 to see off Brown (193.050) and Cornell (192.975), but fell short to a Penn side that had an outstanding day at the meet with a score of 194.850.

Yale’s momentum has taken a slight hit in recent weeks, with the Bulldogs failing to win their last two competitions, compared to their four victories in the opening five meets earlier in the season. The Elis did show their ability to deliver high totals in events like floor exercise, but the accumulation of small mistakes ultimately cost the team their 17th Ivy Classic title.

“This was definitely not the result that we wanted from this weekend,” captain Emma Firmstone ’20 said. “I think we are all a little disappointed, but we are determined to turn this into motivation to keep improving for the rest of the season. Penn had a great meet, and we had some mistakes that we could not afford. Although it wasn’t enough to come out on top, I am extremely proud of how this team fought until the end.”

Yale began its defense of the Ivy Classic title with vault and got off to a solid start with a score of 48.400. Alyssa Firth ’21 and Rebecca Chong ’20 impressed in particular, with both achieving high scores of 9.775. Firth performed an amazing full-twisting yurchenko, while Chong successfully completed a yurchenko half. Anna Jennings ’20, who has been a reliable lead-off for the team this year, could only reach an 8.750, but was followed by Jade Buford ’20 who posted a solid 9.675. Caitlin Henry ’23 and Charlotte Cooperman ’21 also excelled with scores of 9.625 and 9.600, respectively.

The Blue and White then rotated to the uneven bars, but the Elis couldn’t quite match their performances in the previous event and posted a total of 47.300. Firth acted as the lead-off and secured a 9.275. It was a mixed bag for the first years on the team, as Henry underperformed — relative to her vault performance — with an unfortunate 8.325. But Raegan Walker ’23 managed to get her meet underway with an impeccable routine that the judges deemed to be a 9.750, placing her second in the event overall.

Lindsay Chia ’22 also started off her day on bars and exhibited big release moves to record a solid 9.575. Jacey Baldovino ’21 equally impressed with a 9.675 to finish fourth in the event overall, while Buford continued her all-around competition with a 9.025.

After rotating to the balance beam event, the Bulldogs finally found their stride and struck gold, with four of the Yale lineup occupying the top six places overall. Cooperman acted as lead-off in the third event and didn’t disappoint with a huge 9.850 — a new career-high — to set the tone. This score was matched by Baldovino who stuck every skill to also achieve a season-high, while captain Firmstone provided a great anchor to equally stick her set for a 9.850. Buford continued her meet with an impressive routine which garnered a 9.750, and Firth achieved a 9.500. However, it was Chia who blew everyone away with an amazing routine that was near-perfect in execution to achieve a 9.900 and first place overall, taking the Bulldogs’ total for the event to 49.200.

“For beam I was honestly just focusing on doing what I train in the gym and really showing off each skill,” Chia said. “Once I finished, I knew I had hit everything, so the score was the cherry on top of that. I was [also] happy with my bars performance, but it definitely wasn’t my best. I’m ready to get back into the gym and try to work on my consistency and increase my score [for bars].”

The Elis did not lose any of their momentum from bars as they rotated onto floor exercise, with the team achieving one of its highest floor scores of the season to put a strong finish to their day. Cooperman and Baldovino both broke 9.800, with scores of 9.850 and 9.825, respectively. It was Buford, however, who amazed the crowd with an almost flawless routine that received an outstanding 9.925. Firth was the anchor for the final event and posted a solid 9.600 for her hit routine to take the final total score to 48.900.

“[Heading into the next meet] we are working on consistency, staying focused and controlling our landings,” Kendal Toy ’22 said.

The Bulldogs will now set their sights on this Sunday, when they will compete at Maryland for a quad meet, consisting of Temple, Penn and William & Mary, in addition to the hosts. The meet will start at 1 p.m.

Syimyk Kyshtoobaev | syimyk.kyshtoobaev@yale.edu