February 16, 2004

Gymnastics Wins Own Invite

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New York State champions.

While such a title would be a big deal for most sports teams in the country, the gymnastics team took the championship as a warm-up for the upcoming clash against Penn next week, and the Ivy League Classic the following week. In competition against Bridgeport, Brockport, Cortland, and Ithaca, the Red fended off three new team score records set by its opponents to win the Big Red Invitational on Saturday.

All five teams scored above their yearly averages, the Red’s score of 190.200 was enough to beat second-place Ithaca (188.850), which was one of the three teams to set a school record.

Going into the final event, the Red needed a strong performance on the floor exercise as they trailed Ithaca by half a point. Armed with matching 9.775’s by senior Stefi Daehler and junior Larissa Calka, Cornell flourished while the Bombers faltered on the uneven bars.

“We just did really well on floor,” said head coach Paul Beckwith. “We knew we had to in order to win this.”

The Red’s performance is even more amazing considering it came without the help of its number one all-around gymnast, freshman Randi Bisbano. She was going to perform on the balance beam, but a nagging pain in her knee forced a change in plans. With the Ivy championship season approaching, taking chances with young talent is the last thing Beckwith wants to do.

“It was just hurting too much,” he said. “We’ll get an MRI on Tuesday, and find out what’s wrong.”

Along with Bisbano, junior Shellen Goltz sat out again on Saturday. The all-American was hoping to make her return on bars. Goltz’s routine, however, was a little too risky to try after being out of competition for so long. As Goltz works on a brand new routine, Beckwith is confident that she can make her season debut this Saturday.

“She’s got the most unique dismount combination in the country, and we’re not quite ready,” Beckwith said, “[but] Shellen should be in the meet next week against Penn.”

The highlight of the meet came when junior Meghan Miller scored a 9.800 on bars, giving her first place in the event and the highest score of the meet. Freshman Hayley Gutman claimed her own title on beam with a 9.700.

Aiming to help make up for the absence of Bisbano, Calka relished the opportunity to compete in front of the large crowd, continuing her steady all-around season with a 37.550, good enough for fifth place. Cortland’s Danin Squires won the all-around with a 38.075.

“We had a big crowd here, and it was fun performing for them,” said Calka. “Usually it’s not that crowded, because they are all local teams.”

The Red will remain in Ithaca for its meet on Saturday against Penn and James Madison at 1 p.m. With its biggest rival visiting, and hopefully with some recovered personnel back in action, the team sets its sights to the overall team record it nearly matched two weeks ago at West Virginia.

“If we can get a bunch of the girls back that are injured, I think we can do it,” Gutman said.

Archived article by Dan Carroll