November 25, 2002

Breaking Into the History Books

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Every once in a while, a team can find itself in the position to break a record. Sometimes it’s an individual mark, or a team mark. In either case, though, it’s a rare and exceptional accomplishment. For the gymnastics team, the days without a broken record are now uncommon.

Within the last two years, the gymnasts have been raising individual and team scores on practically every event and apparatus to bring the program to heights it has never seen.

“We’re off to the races not just in terms of the skill level, but in terms of our team,” said head coach Paul Beckwith.

Beckwith can’t stop smiling when he thinks of what his 2001-02 squad accomplish. The team won the Ivy League tournament (it isn’t a championship because only four teams compete), placed third in the ECAC championships, and sixth at the USAG nationals in its second straight appearance.

In the meantime, the team obliterated the old team records, surpassing the 190.0 overall mark with a combined score of 192.575 at the ECACs.

In between, there were several individual accomplishments such as ECAC Rookie of the Year and All-America on the bars, sophomore Meghan Miller, Verizon Academic All-America and All-America on the vault, junior Rachel Goldberg. Junior captain Stephanie Daehler broke records on the floor, senior Shannon Weiman is the record holder on the beam, and sophomore Shellen Goltz has Cornell’s all-around record.

“Last year, we broke new ground, got to a new plateau. This is the year to solidify in our minds, the coaches’ minds, the gymnasts’ minds that that wasn’t a fluke. Now, this is us,” Beckwith said.

With only two graduations from last year’s squad, the Red is looking to better its 2001-02 performance, although finding the room for improvement is becoming a much harder task for the team.

“We want to go up a little bit more because we’re getting to the point where a 190 is a 9.5 average for everybody on every event, and you just can’t go up a lot. We’re getting pretty picky, we’re trying to shave off a half a tenth,” Beckwith said.

Despite mandates on practices from the Ivy League’s new seven-week rule, the team has been pushing itself to raise the bar. Many gymnasts are competing harder routines and many will enter more events.

“It’s really exciting because our team is constantly improving. Everyone is learning new things and trying to upgrade,” Goldberg said.

Miller is expected to be the Red’s top performer on bars again this year, after averaging a score of 9.8 last season. She may also compete in the all-around this year. Goldberg will be expected to contribute on the bars and her specialty, the vault. Goltz is likely to be in the all-around with sophomore Larrissa Calka and freshman Cathy Shnell. With more gymnasts participating in all four events, fewer women may compete regularly for the Red, but it will improve the team’s depth.

Junior Denise Hurd performed on the vault and floor exercises all last year, while classmate Katie Nicklas chipped in strong scores on the beam and bars. Sophomores Andrea Mavro, Alison Betof Danielle Inwald will also be integral parts of the team’s success.

While Beckwith praises the individual talents of the gymnasts, he attributes much of the success to the camaraderie of the team — a facet of gymnastics that often goes overlooked in what is often considered an individual sport.

“This team is just so much fun to work with. When we’re in the gym everybody works together really hard. It makes all the difference in the world when you’re practicing,” he said.

And while the competition within the team drives the individuals to work harder, the main goals are team goals and another trip to nationals.

Archived article by Amanda Angel