It’s hard to consider a team without a senior as a legitimate contender for an Ivy title.
But the Cornell women’s gymnastics team certainly fits that bill.
“It is a young team, there is no doubt about that. Out of 17 people we have four upperclassmen,” head coach Paul Beckwith said. “But people have been in this sport long enough that I don’t think that being a freshman is a huge disadvantage.”
The Big Red tumblers are led by junior co-captain Andrea Park and the other co-captain, Kristin Kimmel, who is the first ever sophomore to be voted by her teammates to be a captain.
The strength of the team will likely be on the balance beam, where the team set numberous records last year.
“Our beam lineup this year should be amazing,” Beckwith said.
This team is led by junior Cassandre Joseph and sophomore Abby Vedder, who qualified for the the USA Gymnastics Collegiate National Championships on the beam, after setting the school record of 9.825 last year.
The vault should also be another sound event for the Red this year. Junior Laura DeForest posted a 9.350 on the event. Junior Mandy Keen, the other upperclassman, earned a 9.400 on the vault.
“Mandy Keen has a new vault, and if it is ready to go it will probably be the hardest vault in the Ivy League,” Beckwith said.
But the entire rotation must do well because each person gets only one vault, instead of last year’s format of counting the better of two vaults.
On the floor, Beckwith will again be looking for some of his upperclassmen to lead the way. Joseph holds the school record in the event, with a stellar 9.900. However, she sprained her ankle on the first day of practice this fall, and has only started practicing again recently. But because the Red’s first meet is not until Jan. 13, Beckwith hopes she will be ready.
Master posted a 9.800 in the event last year, another impressive number.
Sophomores Shannon Weiman, Meredith Long and Natasha Elkovitch also return to the Red’s lineup, adding depth to Beckwith’s ever-growing army of talented tumblers.
The newcomers will also have a great chance to make a big impact on the team.
“We have very talented freshmen,” the coach said with a grin.
These rookies will be vital in the Red’s toughest event, the uneven bars. Stefanie Daehler, Katie Nicklas, Debbie George, Rachel Goldberg, Denise Hurd, Lauren Kunis and Maia Hunnex will all be valuable additions to the squad, as many of them have big tricks to throw into routines.
All this should help the Red achieve its dream:
“Our biggest goal is to qualify as a team for the USAG Collegiate Nationals. It’s the national championship for all the colleges in the country with six scholarships or less,” Beckwith said.
With this much talent in the lineup, Beckwith could very well get his wish.
Archived article by J.V. Anderton