February 17, 2003

Gymnasts Hit Season High

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Last season, it seemed as if nothing could go wrong for the Cornell gymnastics team. Week after week, the young team set school records on individual events and in the overall score.

Despite the fact that the tumblers have not been able to repeat last year’s phenomenal success this season, the wins have continued to come, as the Red prepares for the Ivy League portion of its season.

Saturday was another example. The Red scored a season-high 187.575 — five points lower than the school record set last March — in winning the Big Red Invitational over Ithaca (185.975), Cortland (184.950), and Syracuse (161.900).

Though the score continues the trend of steadily increasing team totals, head coach Paul Beckwith is not yet satisfied.

“Winning was fine, but we were still off on our performances,” he lamented. “Without all the falls, we should have scored 191.”

Sophomore Shellen Goltz was the Red’s top performer on the meet, claiming first on the uneven bars with a personal best score of 9.725. She also placed fifth in the vault with a 9.200.

Another standout was classmate Larissa Calka, who came in third place on the floor exercise with a score of 9.750 just half an hour after she fell off the uneven bars and landed on her head.

“We were worried that she might have broken her neck,” said Beckwith. “She’s alright, but it was a little scary for a while.”

Junior Debbie George replaced Calka on the balance beam and performed admirably.

Also on the beam, junior Katie Nicklas placed second with a 9.550.

According to Beckwith, the team has much room for improvement before competing against the University of Pennsylvania and then in the Ivy Classic over the next two weeks.

“We’ve had uncharacteristically random falls,” he said. “Every week it’s something different, somebody different. It was disappointing in that we couldn’t hit events.”

While Saturday’s team score was the highest of the season, it would have been the second lowest team score last season. Beckwith attributes this underperformance mostly to the team’s tendency to fall off the equipment.

“For some reason, the kids are really nervous,” Beckwith explained. “I’m not sure what it is, we’re just lacking confidence.”

However, regardless of these errors, Beckwith emphasized the fact that without them, the Red would easily be on par with last year’s performance.

He stated: “We’re still optimistic.”

Archived article by Owen Bochner