February 24, 2006

Gymnastics Travels to R.I. for Ivy Classic Competition

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The Cornell women’s gymnastics team will participate in its most exciting event of the year this weekend, as the Red travels to Providence, R.I., to take on Yale, Penn and Brown in the 2006 Ivy Classic on Sunday. The winner of The Classic will be deemed the best gymnastics squad in the Ivy League for 2006.

Head coach Paul Beckwith had some encouraging words to say about this year’s team. He acknowledged that his team is preparing the same way it has all season, although the team has stepped it up this week in practice. Beckwith feels that whoever hits well on that particular day will win.

“We know we can win it,” he said.

The coach was happy that his squad had zero falls in last weekend’s action and that the Red has worked hard this week to fix small mistakes and polish its performances.

“We count on top people to hit top scores,” Beckwith said.

But he also feels that the other gymnasts on the team will have to step up, as they have the potential to make the biggest difference in the team score.

Beckwith said that he is counting on sophomore Colleen Davis, who last week nearly set a school record with a 9.825 on the vault. He also expects a big performance from junior Kari Kucera, who scored a 9.850 on the floor last week, which was good for fifth-highest in school history. He is also expecting sophomore Megan Gilbert, senior Cathy Schnell and junior Randi Bisbano to make an impact.

Beckwith feels that it is crucial for the first gymnast who participates in each event to do well, as five out of the six scores will count for each event.

The coach likes to place his most consistent gymnasts first to ensure that a good performance will set the tone at the beginning of the event. This strategy also takes the pressure off the remaining gymnasts.

Improvements have been apparent over the last few weeks, to the delight of Beckwith.

“The lineups have stayed pretty consistent [and the] score has gone up dramatically over the past three weeks,” he said.

As a general strategy that Beckwith will be following, he tells the gymnasts not to concern themselves with the score while performing.

However, that doesn’t mean he’s not focused on the score. Beckwith’s not afraid to make small adjustments as the meet goes on, sacrificing some difficulty of different stunts to better ensure the safety of a Cornell lead in a competition.

Beckwith feels that out of the other three schools competing, Yale will pose the greatest threat to stopping Cornell from winning it all.

“We’re up, we’re ready, we have no major injuries … we’re healthy and ready to roll,” Beckwith said. “We have high hopes. As long as we think we can win, then we can.”

Archived article by David Sims
Sun Contributor