March 25, 2002

Gymnasts Place Third at ECACs

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It was a record-breaking weekend for the gymnastics team as it scored a school-record 192.575, which was good enough for third place in the ECAC Championships. Cornell had never finished higher than sixth in the event before Saturday. The record score obliterated the previous school record of 190.800, which was set Mar. 10 against Vermont.

“This was absolutely the best meet in the history of the school,” beamed head coach Paul Beckwith, who was named the ECAC Coach of the Year.

Leading the way for the Red was freshman Meghan Miller, who tied for first in the uneven bars with a personal best score of 9.825. Overall, Cornell placed third on the apparatus, behind William and Mary and Yale.

On the vault, sophomore Rachel Goldberg placed fifth with a personal-best score of 9.725, leading the Red to a school-record mark of 48.125.

Junior Shannon Weiman also placed in the top-five in an event, scoring a 9.775 on the balance beam, which was good enough for fifth.

That the tumblers were able to place so highly despite having only three top-five finishers in individual events speaks to the tremendous depth of the team. Cornell finished third as a team in the uneven bars, balance beam, and floor exercise. The Red placed fourth in the vault, just half a point behind third-place Penn.

The Red was also well-represented in the post-season awards. In addition to Beckwith’s award, Miller was named ECAC Rookie of the Year, Weiman nabbed Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors, and assistant coach Melanie Dilliplane received the Assistant Coach of the Year nod.

“It was unexpected,” remarked Beckwith on his Coach of the Year award. “I think it reflects on how well we’ve done this year. It’s a real honor.”

Saturday’s meet allowed the Red to rebound from a disappointing loss last Sunday Mar. 17 at the hands of Temple. In that, the season’s final dual meet, Cornell fell to the Owls 190.250-190.075 after leading through the first three events. The final event of the day for Cornell was the balance beam, while host Temple finished on the floor exercise. Cornell, though, was victimized by tough judging on the beam.

“I don’t like to blame the judges,” said Beckwith, “but the judging was horrible. Those were some of our best performances [on balance beam] but our worst scores.”

Despite the stringent marks by judges, freshman Larissa Calka was able to post a 9.675 to place first. Miller’s 9.650 was good for second place. On the uneven bars, Miller came in first with a 9.825, just .025 short of a school record.

Despite the last-event decline, the tumblers were still pleased with the meet at Temple.

“It was a very good meet,” admitted Beckwith, “it probably made us a little hungrier to go out and prove something at ECACs.”

On April 14, the Red will compete in the USA Gymnastics Collegiate Nationals, an invitational tournament to which the top eight schools with fewer than six scholarships are invited. Last year, eight-seed Cornell placed fifth. This year, the Red will enter the meet seeded fifth.

Said Beckwith: “We’re hoping to finish even higher.”

A strong finish at Nationals would top an already stellar year for the gymnastics team. With a roster comprised primarily of freshmen and sophomores, it seems that more good things are yet to come.

“Next year, we should have a team that will be able to compete with anyone in the country,” predicted Beckwith.

Archived article by Owen Bochner