While most Cornell undergrads were sleeping in over the break, the women of the gymnastics team were flipping in Maryland, splitting in Washington D.C., and back-hand-springing in Pennsylvania before finally landing back in Ithaca. The team earned a second-place finish to start the season before consecutive fourth-place finishes to close the break.
After tying Bridgeport for the 2009 National Championship, the Red was once again pitted against the Purple Knights in its season opening meet hosted by Maryland.
Cornell finished second behind Maryland –– the only team to break 190 points with 194.250. Cornell’s 189.375 was good enough to beat out both Temple (188.025) and Bridgeport (187.350) and set the Red on the right track to start the year.
“It was a great start to the season,” said junior captain Maddie Pearsall. “We were thrilled with how that meet went.”
Pearsall led the Red on bars with a 9.650, but Cornell’s best event proved to be the vault with junior Emily Santoro’s 9.800 and freshman McKenna Archer’s 9.725, contributing to a total of 48.225. Melanie Standridge also surpassed the 9.7 mark with a 9.725 on the beam, while senior Brittany Howse’s 9.625 on the floor was a high for the Red.
Despite a strong match in Maryland, Cornell finished just fourth out of six teams at the George Washington Invite. The Red followed up its season-opening 189.375 with a 186.800, good enough to beat out William & Mary (183.575) and Penn (179.55) –– Cornell’s first Ivy League opponent of the season.
“Any time we go to a meet and Ivies are there, it’s important,” Pearsall said. “We don’t see them all that often until … February and March. Any time we see an Ivy or ECAC opponent before then, it’s important.”
“We didn’t have as strong a meet at G.W. as at Maryland,” Pearsall said. “We scored high points [individually] in a lot [of events] … but as a team we didn’t do as well.”
With the break opening up the womens’ schedule, they participated in three meets in just eight days, atypical from the one or two weeks off between most meets. The George Washington Invitational was just two days after the meet in Maryland.
“No one wants to make excuses, but it was the second meet of the weekend” Pearsall said. “Coming out and opening with two meets was a little trying. We try to build with every meet, but unfortunately we took a step back at G.W.”
The Red’s struggles continued at Penn State, where Iowa and Yale joined the competition. Finishing last among the four teams with a season-low 185.750, Cornell suffered its first loss to an Ivy League team, as Yale inched by the Red with a 186.125. Penn State and Iowa put up impressive scores of 195.325 and 192.175, respectively.
The star of the meet was Penn State senior Brandi Personett, who earned the Ann Carr award with a 10.000 on vault –– the first 10 for a Nittany Lion on vault since 2003. For the Red, however, the story of the meet was looking forward to a chance to get back on top.
“A lot of little things went wrong –– not finishing things and not going all the way through the routine,” Pearsall said. “Sometimes things go wrong and you can fake it, but too many little things added up. We need to focus on pushing through the routines.”
Original Author: John Forman