January 25, 2002

Gymnasts Take on Massachusetts

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The fruits of three hour practices are just starting to come to the Cornell women’s gymnastics team. And with all the sprained ankles and blisters the team has to put up with, a little fruit is well deserved.

With only two meets completed, the Red gymnasts have defeated Ivy rival Penn twice and earned a third place ranking in the ECAC — the team’s highest ranking in the last ten years. The team has also given the people in charge of the history books a little overtime by setting two school records on the bars.

The season may be young, but head coach Paul Beckwith has reason to be pleased.

Without hesitation, Beckwith said, “This is the best season we’ve ever had so far. This is our best team ever.”

These strong statements could be taken as boasts if they were not firmly rooted in results and the dedication he has witnessed in his team.

Some of the tumblers’ early success can be credited to the freshmen. The new blood has strengthened and rejuvenated the team. Freshman Shellen Goltz was named ECAC Rookie of the Week for her efforts in the first week of the season. The balance of youth and experience has worked well thus far. The team is as strong and as healthy as a gymnastics team can hope to be.

When the women of UMass find their way to Ithaca this Saturday, they will be welcomed by two All-Americans making their first starts of the season. Both junior Shannon Weiman (beam) and sophomore Rachael Goldberg (vaulting) will be making their first appearances of the season after early injuries. Beckwith welcomes them back into the mix but knows that UMass will be a worthy opponent.

“It’s going to be a tough one. We had a great practice today. It will be an upset if we win, but we are capable.”

Based on UMass’s recent scores, the Cornell women may need a team record score to secure the win. That is a lot to ask of a team, but senior Mandy Keen is optimistic.

“We are really excited. We think we will do really well and surprise UMass. Our team dynamic is much better this year.”

In a sport that is dictated by the judges, all a team can hope for is to do its best. High spirits are a good way to start.

“It is up to the judges. If we had the same judges every week, it would be different,” Beckwith said. “But, it’s not consistent. All that we can hope for is a no-fall meet.”

The women’s gymnastics team began its season Jan. 12 before a sizable crowd and Coach Beckwith hopes to see the trend continue in the future.

“The crowd is helpful. Our meets only last about an hour and a half. The fans can yell and scream. We appreciate the support.”

In addition to the big meet this Saturday with UMass, the Cornell women hope to see a big turnout for the Big Red Invitational Feb. 9. The Red will welcome Ithaca College, Cortland, and Towson to Teagle Hall. It promises to be one of the most intense meets of the season when tthe team meets its two close rivals and the quality squad from Maryland.

If all goes as planned, the Red gymnasts will set a few more records, gain their highest finish ever in the ECAC, and return to Nationals.

But for now, Beckwith is sticking with the old adage, “We take it one meet at a time.”

Archived article by Adam Matthews