February 15, 2002

Vying for First in N.Y.

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After competing on the East Hill last weekend, the Cornell women’s gymnastics team is heading to its crosstown rival’s turf this Sunday to compete in the Ithaca Invitational on South Hill.

Last Saturday, the Red benefited from the contributions of several key team members to place second in a field of four at the seventh annual Big Red Invitational in Teagle Gymnasium.

Cornell’s victory in the floor event, along with second place team finishes on the vault, uneven bars, and beam, helped the squad record its third-highest overall score of the season.

The Red was bested by a tough Towson University force in a bid for the tournament title, with Ithaca College and SUNY Cortland placing third and fourth, respectively.

Cornell had a strong showing from freshman Larissa Calka, who used a third-place finish in the floor exercise and a fifth place finish on the beam to walk away third in the all-around.

Sophomore Denise Hurd had the highest individual finish of the afternoon after equaling her season-best 9.550 on the vault to place second. The Red also used the two fifth place finishes from freshman Andrea Mavro in the vault and uneven bars to make a run for the title.

While Cornell saw success in all four events, it was ultimately not enough to overtake the Towson squad. The Tigers were led by junior Kristen Presutti, who recorded wins in the vault, beam and floor exercise on her way to winning the all-around. Presutti, who was named first team All-EAGL (East Atlantic Gymnastics League) and Towson’s female athlete of the year in 2001, had taken home a first, second, and third place finish in the all-around prior to last weekend’s competition.

This weekend, Cornell will battle four other squads in the Harriet Marranca Memorial Invitational, with all the schools in the state with gymnastics squads competing. The Red has a history of success, as it has won this meet for the past four years.

“We are expecting to do the same,” Beckwith said in reference to keeping team’s streak alive. “We will do really well.”

Host Ithaca College has yet to record a first place finish on the season. In its opening competition, the Bombers placed third out of five, dropped a dual meet against West Chester and again versus Cortland last Tuesday. Last weekend, they placed third behind Cornell. Despite these losses, Ithaca is still ranked fifth in the nation amongst Division III schools.

Leading the Bombers is senior Jocelyn Genoa, who has won two all-around titles and placed a team-best fourth in the Brockport Invitational at the beginning of the season.

The Red will also meet Cortland, Wilson College, and Rhode Island College in the Invitational.

Cortland has recorded three wins this season, two second place finishes, a loss against West Chester, and the fourth place showing last weekend. Sophomore Danin Squires leads the Dragons and has placed second in the all-around in three meets this season. In the Big Red Invitational, Squires recorded the highest finish in any event for the team with a third place showing on the beam.

Wilson College has yet to post a victory. In seven meets to date, it has two seconds, two thirds, and three fourth-place finishes. Rookie Lisa Summers is the squad’s powerhouse, as she has finished with the highest all-around score in six of the team’s meets.

Rhode Island College has also been plagued with a series of losses, as it has fallen in all seven of its dual meets, placed fourth out of a field of five in a tournament in mid-January, and placed second out of four in late-January. Junior captain Shannon Hughey has been averaging the highest all-around score on the squad this season and will look to improve on that.

Having only to travel to South Hill for the event will be advantageous to a Cornell squad which is preparing for the Ivy Championships.

“We always have this meet the weekend before the Ivies, so it is really nice that it is held nearby. It almost feels like a home meet,” Beckwith said. “We really look forward to this meet because it’s a lot of fun and a warm up for the Ivies.”

Archived article by Katherine Granish