March 4, 2004

Young Bisbano Leads Tumblers

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With the top five gymnastic all-around scores in Cornell history under her name, freshman Randi Bisbano has already made an indelible mark on the school in only her first five competitions. Cornell and Bisbano seem like a match to be made only in heaven, though it is a wonder how the two ever hooked up.

Bisbano started gymnastics when she was merely two years old. Her parents started her out thinking that gymnastics was something she would enjoy.

They were right.

Not only did Bisbano continue in gymnastics, but it became the main focus in her life.

“I knew that I wanted to continue it,” said Bisbano. “It was never my plan to continue it until college. I still like it though, so I am going to keep doing it.”

When it came time to choose a college, gymnastics was undoubtedly a major factor in her decision. Bisbano narrowed her list down to two schools: Rutgers and Cornell. While Rutgers offers a very competitive Division I gymnastics team (one that beat the Red by over four points on Feb. 7), it was everything else that Cornell offers that attracted her.

“This is such a good academic school and it has a Division I gymnastics team,” said Bisbano, “so it had the whole package.”

“And it’s two hours from home,” she added.

Besides the colossal increase in her amount of homework, the transition from high school to college has gone fairly smoothly for Bisbano.

The biggest difference is the team aspect of gymnastics. Unlike most other sports, gymnasts rarely compete for their high schools. They compete for private clubs as individuals, without the aspect of a team score. Often times they will compete only once a month. In college, gymnasts compete once a week during the season, and sometimes twice in a single weekend.

“The hard transition for all the freshmen is the amount of competing,” said head coach Paul Beckwith. “[Randi] has worked into that really well.”

After beginning the season as one of seven freshmen gymnasts, Bisbano wasted no time making an impression on her coach and her teammates. While the scores she has posted so far are remarkable, the most impressive thing about Bisbano is her consistency. In her first five meets, not only did she break the all-around record four times, but she also recorded only one fall in that same timeframe.

“We have a lot of individuals who are amazing on different things, but are not as consistent week in and week out,” said Beckwith. “That’s the thing that is so impressive about Randi.”

With all the hoopla surrounding her performance, one might think that Bisbano would revel in the acclaim, but she does not.

Not only is Bisbano on of the Red’s top gymnasts, but she is also one of its most humble. From reluctantly accepting praise to dishing out the same praise to other athletes, she is the quintessential “team player”.

“You don’t have to ask the coach what makes her special on the team in terms of performance, that’s a given,” said Beckwith. “But in terms of personality, it’s her support of the other gymnasts. Her jumping in and being a team player.”

Even though Bisbano is currently dealing with a knee injury, she is hopeful for herself and the team to make nationals. Further down the road, she hopes to continue to help the team as much as possible while working on a degree in human development from the School of Human Ecology.

“I was going to do psychology, but it was more science-oriented,” said Bisbano. “Human development is more about helping people out.”

The Red’s gymnasts will be the main benefactors of such aid, a fact they are all quick to acknowledge.

“We know that Randi’s success will make our team better for the next three years that she’s here,” said junior Allison Betof. “It helps recruit better gymnasts. The sky’s the limit right now.”

“And we love her to death,” added junior Larissa Calka. “She’s so fun, and she’s so nice.”


Archived article by Dan Carroll