February 20, 2004

Penn, James Madison Pose Test for Tumblers

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Coming fresh off a win at its own invitational last weekend, the gymnastics team will face its biggest test to date as it hosts Penn and James Madison in a tri-meet tomorrow. While the Red has already faced a nationally-ranked team in West Virginia, this weekend will show just how good Cornell’s chances of winning the Ivy League are.

The event can be seen as merely a warm-up for the following week’s Ivy Classic (which Cornell is hosting this year), but the team will use the meet to test the health of its injury-ridden lineup and to get a feel of what needs to be done before the Classic.

“We’ve got to get our personnel back,” said head coach Paul Beckwith. “That would shift the scores incredibly.”

Even if the significance of this weekend’s event is drowned out by what will happen the following week, fans should not underestimate the high-caliber of gymnastics that will take place.

The skill level of the three teams is extremely close. With season-high scores of 192.725, 191.975, and 191.350, Penn, Cornell, and James Madison are ranked second, third, and fourth, respectively, in the ECAC.

“It’s going to be totally neck-and-neck,” said Beckwith, “Whoever hits will win it.”

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of this weekend is the possibility of junior Shellen Goltz’s return. After earning All-America honors last year, Goltz spent all summer recovering from a foot injury. Before the 2004 season began, she was again sidelined with a back injury and has spent the last few weeks working on a new routine for the uneven bars — her previous routine was not developed enough before she got injured. If all goes as planned, Goltz will return to competition tomorrow.

“She was our top on bars last year,” said Beckwith. “[She] should be in the meet against Penn.”

Goltz’s comeback arrives at the best possible time for the Red. Freshman Randi Bisbano, the team’s top all-around performer this season and owner of the top five scores in school history, sat out of last week’s Big Red Invitational due to a knee problem. Regardless of the results from an MRI taken Tuesday, she will most likely remain on the sidelines again tomorrow to prepare for next week.

“Ivies is what we’re shooting for with her,” said Beckwith.

After the meet against Penn and James Madison, the Red will spend two more weeks at home, including the Ivy Classic on Feb. 29. As the season heats up, the team becomes more and more confident it can continue to improve and set records.

“I think we are going to pull it all together,” said junior Larissa Calka. “I think we are going to do really well.”

Archived article by Dan Carroll