February 23, 2004

Gymnasts Fall at Home

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If there is one thing that was made clear on Saturday, it is that the gymnastics team still has some key injuries to overcome. Even with some important gymnasts returning and improving, the Red was not able to put together a strong showing, losing to Penn and James Madison in a home meet at Teagle Hall.

The Red’s weakness showed most prominently on the balance beam, where three falls put the team more than two points behind the Quakers in that event alone. Adding injury to insult was the absence of freshman Christina Baez, who usually competes on both vault and beam. Two days prior to the meet, Baez fell victim to back spasms which sidelined her.

“We’re scrambling,” said head coach Paul Beckwith. “[Senior] Stefi Daehler competed on beam, which she hasn’t done this year or last year. We’ll be more ready next weekend.”

Even if the team had been completely healthy, it would have been hard-pressed to pull out a victory. Penn set a new all-around school record with a mark of 193.575, and all four of its event scores placed among the team’s top five all-time. James Madison also had an impressive meet, setting a season-high score with a 192.025 points. The Red ended with a total of 189.925, slightly above its season average.

“So I guess we hosted a good meet,” Beckwith remarked.

Junior Larissa Calka, the Red’s lone all-around performer, put in a career best performance with a score of 38.475. The score was enough for third place in the meet and almost a full point higher than her mark from last weekend at the Big Red Invitational. Performances of that caliber are what have kept the Red afloat during this turbulent season. Another key contributor is junior Meghan Miller. After studying abroad in Denmark last semester and not following a normal workout regimen, she has rebounded quickly, posting scores of 9.800 and 9.775 on bars in the last two meets.

“I wasn’t expecting to compete or to be needed in the lineup, but I really wanted to step in and help the team out,” Miller said. “I feel like I am coming back.”

The biggest story of the meet was the return of junior All-American Shellen Goltz. In her first competition since the end of last season, Goltz scored a 9.550 on bars using a routine she learned the previous week. While the new routine only has a maximum score of 9.8, it is the most Beckwith wants to push her until she is 100 percent healthy. Regardless of what Goltz scores, her presence alone is enough to help the team.

“There are some people that, when you see them back in the lineup, it brings the team back up to a different level,” said sophomore Cathy Schnell. “Last year, I followed her every meet in the bars lineup, and having her back there made me a lot more comfortable.”

The Red will be back in action on Sunday when it hosts the Ivy Classic in Bartels Hall at 1 p.m. The Classic, besides the ECAC and USAG championships, is the most important meet of the year, and should provide fans with a nice treat.

“All of the teams are really close right now,” Miller said. “I’m just hoping for us to come out on top.”

Archived article by Dan Carroll