With a combined average of only 182.907 points, the four opponents in this weekend’s Big Red Invitational do not seem like a huge challenge for the talented Red. Bridgeport, Brockport, Cortland, and Ithaca will travel to Teagle Hall for a 1 p.m. meet tomorrow to try and top a Cornell squad that has averaged 189.125 points in its five meets this year. While one may be quick to dismiss the matchup as a mere warm-up for the heart of the Ivy League season, head coach Paul Beckwith places a special importance on the meet.
“[It’s the] New York State Championship,” he explains. “It’s all the teams in New York, plus one more.”
Bridgeport will be traveling from Connecticut, but Cornell and the other three teams represent all New York has to offer in terms of gymnastics squads. The chance to finally compete at home is more important to the Red than the chance to be crowned the theoretical state champion.
“We always have a good time at the invitationals,” said Beckwith. “Every time Ithaca comes, there is a big crowd.”
“It’s going to be an awesome meet,” added senior Debbie George.
George is one of the many gymnasts who have new skills that should aid the team as the season progresses. Debuting a new vault at Pittsburgh last Saturday, George obliterated her career high of 9.350 with a 9.625 in the event. For a senior to make such a considerable improvement speaks to how the freshmen-laden Red pushes all of the gymnasts to new heights.
“I’m going to keep doing it and making it better,” said George. “Hopefully my best one will be this weekend.”
The only factor that might stop the Red from winning this weekend is the injuries that have been plaguing the team all year. While most of the gymnasts are in the process of getting healthier, a few key injuries remain. Freshman Randi Bisbano, who was named ECAC co-Gymnast of the Week, is currently bothered by a knee injury. Without the full capabilities of its number one all-arounder, the Red will need to pick up the slack to maintain the high scores it has achieved all year.
“She will not vault, but may be able to compete on the other events,” said Beckwith. “Until we know exactly what is wrong with her knee, we are not going to take any chances.”
Starting tomorrow, the Red will be home for almost an entire month, until its Mar. 14 contest at Temple. After spending almost half a season on the road, the gymnasts all look forward to a bit of relaxation, or at least a break from traveling. After the Big Red Invitational, the Red will play host to rival Penn and then hold the Ivy Classic, which is the unofficial Ivy League championship for gymnastics.
“What’s so good about four weeks at home is the momentum,” said Beckwith. “We can build on our success and be comfortable here for an entire month, which is great.”
Archived article by Dan Carroll