April 12, 2004

Gymnasts Cap Season at Collegiate Nationals

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To cap off one of its strongest seasons ever, the gymnastics team ended with several superb individual performances, which helped the team finish in fifth place at the 2004 USAG Collegiate National Championships over the weekend. The event, held at Texas Women’s University, was open to teams that offered little or nothing in the way of athletic scholarships.

The Red fell just short of its goal to make team finals on Friday, which only the top four teams advanced to. Cornell’s score of 191.350 trailed Temple by only 0.025 points. Centenary (193.275) won the preliminary competition by a whole point above the host school, and UC Davis (191.850) also advanced to team finals.

“We had our best ever finish,” said head coach Paul Beckwith.

Even though the team fell short of its target, the Red had plenty of strong individual performances. Four gymnasts placed in the top eight during preliminaries on Thursday and collected five All-America honors — a school record.

“After seven rotations out of eight, we were in the lead,” Beckwith said. “We were surprising a lot of people. And bars, our best event, was up next.”

The event, which usually highlights the Red’s performance, turned freakish for the team, however, as it saw two of its top performers get dismantled and its team score plummet from first to fifth place. Sophomore Cathy Schnell injured her shoulder during her routine, and Junior Meghan Miller, the ECAC champion in the event, was unable to recreate her East Coast magic, as numerous falls led to an incomplete routine.

“It was really tough mentally,” Beckwith said. “The bars were really loose and everyone was falling. In finals, only three people didn’t fall off.”

Amid the chaos on bars, freshman Stephanie Ohler managed to complete a remarkable performance. After watching the apparatus injure and defeat her team, Ohler stepped up as the Red’s final performer and tied for first in the preliminaries with a score of 9.825. While she faltered in finals two days later and fell back to eighth place, her achievement gives the team hope for the future.

“I’m really proud of her,” Beckwith said. “To have a freshman do that her first time is amazing.”

Classmate Randi Bisbano finished her first gymnastics campaign in style, earning two All-America nods. She placed fifth on the balance beam with a 9.775 and sixth on the uneven bars with a 9.725. In finals, Bisbano improved with fourth and third place finishes in those events, respectively.

“Randi had a really solid routine on bars,” Beckwith said. “She stepped out of bounds on floor. If it weren’t for that, she would have made finals as well.”

Junior Shellen Goltz earned her second straight All-America title on beam, placing second in the preliminary competition with a 9.800. After a fifth-place finish last season, Goltz kept her second place spot in the finals with a 9.750, the Red’s highest individual finish.

“Shellen always comes through for us,” Beckwith said.

Senior Rachel Goldberg became a three-time All-American on vault with a seventh place finish. She dropped 0.3 points in finals, however, placing eighth overall.

With the 2004 campaign officially over, the Red can look back at its finest season ever. Even with numerous injuries limiting the team throughout much of the year, the Red obliterated its all-around record at the Ivy Classic. Moreover, only three gymnasts will be abandoning their spots on the starting lineup next season. Armed with four All-Americans and a strong recruiting class, the Red will look to finish the deed next season and win its major events.

“I’m ready,” Beckwith said. “We have seven recruits coming in next year. It is our best recruiting class ever.”

Archived article by Dan Carroll