Gymnastics is all about the details — a few thousandths of a point, a few inches to the right or left, and everything changes. And while the Red put together one of its strongest performances of the year at the USAG national championships yesterday, small mistakes kept the team out of the final round.
“Overall, we had a really good day,” said assistant coach Melanie Dillipane. “I think we were pretty happy with our performance … collectively, as a group, they did extremely well.”
The Red competed against UC-Davis, Seattle Pacific, Rutgers, Texas Women’s, Centenary, Air Force, and Alaska-Anchorage yesterday in the team and individual preliminaries. UC-Davis won the preliminary round with a team score of 193.550, taking first or second place in all four events. Seattle Pacific, Rutgers, and Texas Women’s finished second, third, and fourth, respectively, to claim the remaining spots in the final round. Cornell finished in sixth place with a score of 190 even, missing the final round by a margin of .450.
“It was definitely better than last year,” said sophomore Randi Bisbano. “In comparison [to the rest of the season], this was a pretty good meet for us. If anything, our scores on floor were just a little lower, but we did just as well. As a whole, I think this was one of our best meets.”
Three different women earned All-American honors and qualified for individual finals for the Red. Junior Cathy Schnell finished in a tie for eighth place on the bars with a score of 9.725, and freshman Megan Gilbert and Bisbano tied for seventh place on the beam with a 9.700 mark. Bisbano also made All-American in the all-around, finishing in seventh place with a cumulative score of 37.575. It was her first entry in this event since suffering an injury in the first meet of the season.
The eight teams were divided into two groups, with each group taking turns working through a rotation in each event. Cornell started the afternoon on the vault. Freshman Colleen Davis had the highest finish for the Red, scoring 9.575 for thirteenth place.
The next event — the bars — has been a recurring trouble spot for the Red.
“On our bars team we have an incredible amount of talent, but it seems like we’re hot and cold,” said head coach Paul Beckwith.
While Schnell was on, hitting each move of her routine and advancing to the finals, the small mistakes that can be so costly created some problems for the Red. Senior Meghan Miller — who holds the school record in bars with a 9.900 — mixed up her hand placement midway through her routine, making it impossible to deliver the moves she had planned. She finished with a 9.375. Senior Shellen Goltz, whose career-high on the bars is a 9.800, put her hands down on the dismount, dropping her to a 9.225.
On the beam, the Red met with more heartbreak.
“[Sophomore] Christine [Baez] was having the routine of her life, and right at the end fell off,” Beckwith said. “She hit all the hard stuff.”
Miller narrowly missed finals on the beam, finishing .050 behind the last qualifier. Sophomore Hayley Gutman — who is tied for the school record of 9.850 on the beam — fell sideways during a back flip, and although she managed to hang onto the beam and stay off the floor, she still lost points and finished with an 8.950. Senior Danielle Inwald finished her career with an 18th place finish with a score of 9.525.
Heading into the final round, the Red was in fifth place, looking to break into the top four and make its first trip to the final round in program history. The last event for the Red was the floor — and as has been the pattern all year, the team struggled with the new scoring system.
“The floor scores were the tightest we’ve seen all year,” Beckwith said. “We usually would score … at least two-tenths higher for every single kid.”
The confusion with the scoring system was especially noticeable after Schnell’s routine, when the two judges gave scores of 9.250 and 9.700. In an event when the top-8 finishers were within .075 of each other, this kind of discrepancy in scoring came as a shock to the team.
“[Senior Larissa Calka] hit the routine of her life [in floor],” Beckwith said. “Starts from a 10, had beautiful dance, ends up with a 9.600. That’s one of the lowest scores she’s had all year. We were just floored. They killed us.”
Bisbano was the Red’s highest finisher on the floor, grabbing 14th place with a mark of 9.650.
Despite some disappointment, the Red was happy with the results.
“I felt like we did pretty good,” Bisbano said. “What I saw [from the other teams] was pretty good, but it wasn’t anything our team couldn’t do. It was just a matter of hitting or not, whoever does the best with what they have.”
And even with the small mistakes, Beckwith felt that Cornell came out of the meet with a success story.
“There’s a lot of people here. To make the top eight is like the top one out of each rotation,” Beckwith said. “If you look at it that way, boy, that’s a tough call. We had a couple All-Americans and a chance for the championship for some of them … I asked them — where were we seeded coming in? Below last. We’ve had a great season. We came out higher than we came in, and we’ve done that every year at this meet.”
The final rounds for the team competition will be held in Newman Arena today, with the men’s competition starting at 1 p.m. and the women’s at 7 p.m. Both the men and women will compete for individual championships tomorrow, beginning at 2 p.m.
Archived article by Olivia Dwyer
Sun Assistant Sports Editor