At this very moment, while most Cornell students are hurriedly preparing for prelims, a small dedicated group of athletes is preparing for an examination on the national level. A week from Thursday, the women’s gymnastics team will travel to compete at the USAG Collegiate Nationals in Springfield, Mass.
Seeded sixth in the meet, Cornell will compete on both a team and individual basis against tough competition. Texas Women’s University, Southern Connecticut, UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara, Centenary, Seattle Pacific and Air Force — the 2001 U.S.A. Collegiate Gymnastics Champions — will all be vying for top honors. Adding to the challenge is the fact that some opponents carry a loaded squad of up to six scholarship athletes, whereas Cornell — due to Ivy League regulations — will enter competition with none.
The meet will begin with 120 competitors from eight teams. The final round will involve the top four teams and the top eight individuals from each event.
“We’re absolutely psyched,” proclaimed head coach Paul Beckwith in regards to the upcoming meet.
Why shouldn’t they be? The Red finished just one place shy of the final round last year, and with the record smashing season it has had, the finals are clearly in sight.
“Our goal is to make the top four,” added Beckwith.
Besides the possibility of a national championship, the squad also has many strong athletes looking for individual titles. Leading the squad on the beam is 2001 All-American junior Shannon Weiman. Already placing fifth at this year’s ECAC championship, Weiman is set to take a top eight finish and a chance at a repeating her 2001 title.
“We have a good chance at making finals this year,” expressed Weiman. Noting that fine tuning and details were her focus now, the 2002 ECAC Scholar-Athlete also shared that things can get tough between practice and academics. “Luckily this year I don’t have any prelims while I’ll be away,” Weiman added.
Holding both the Ivy and ECAC champion title on the uneven bars, freshman Megan Miller is another top contender for All-American honors.
“If she hits her routine she can probably score a 9.9,” commented Beckwith of Miller’s abilities. Beckwith went on to state that besides breaking a school record, such a score should also guarantee Miller her third major and first national champion title in the uneven bars.
Other team members in the hunt for individual honors are 2001 All-American Rachel Goldberg on vault, Stefanie Daehler with her floor routine, and Larissa Calka on the beam.
After the ECAC championships the team had only a few days to rest before getting right back to work on routines. Though now that the team only needs polish, Beckwith is more concerned with keeping on task.
“It’s hard to maintain focus when the regular season is done,” Beckwith said.
Still, with the dedication Beckwith’s team has to their academic and athletic endeavors this season, that shouldn’t be a problem.
Archived article by Matt Janiga