March 3, 2006

Gymnastics Looks to Build Off Ivy Title This Weekend

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The women’s gymnastics team has been riding a wave of success of late, with five consecutive meets of improving scores culminating last weekend when Cornell took home its first Ivy Classic victory in four years.

The Red looks to keep that winning feeling alive this Saturday as it plays host to Rutgers and Eastern Michigan, two squads who boast depth and talent at every event. While this meet will present a challenge for Cornell, head coach Paul Beckwith feels his team’s string of successes has helped develop a killer instinct.

“This team’s attitude has become, ‘Absolutely nothing can stop us,'” Beckwith said.

The women’s team did not start its season as dominant as it is now. In fact, its first few meets this year were as bad as any Beckwith had seen in his 12 years at Cornell. The team was plagued by illness and uncertainty over which gymnasts would step up as leaderS. Combined with a sprained ankle to freshman beam standout Stacy Ohara in the first meet of the year, it appeared as if the Red’s season could not start off any worse.

The season turned around with a victory over Brown, which gave the team confidence in its ability to compete. Like the U.S. after Pearl Harbor, it was as if a sleeping giant awoke and proceeded to exert its true power. The next few meets showed a team on the verge of putting it all together, which is exactly what happened last weekend with the Ivy Classic victory.

After the victory, the Red also learned that Ohara would return this weekend in an exhibition performance. An exhibition performance means that her scores will not count toward the team’s overall performance.

Beckwith hopes that by getting Ohara in the exhibition she will get the competitive practice she has missed while injured. If all goes well, she will be back in full action next weekend against Temple. Her return provides another reason for Cornell to be confident as its season winds down and the ECAC championships approach.

While it may be easy to look past this weekend’s meet because of the much anticipated season finale match with Penn in two weeks, followed the next week by the ECAC championships, Beckwith is confident his team will be able to focus on the task at hand.

“The team is all about performing in the moment,” Beckwith said. “My one thing is to always remind them to worry about ‘one trick at a time.'”

The Rutgers and Eastern Michigan teams will be tough for the Red. With freshman all-arounder Jennifer Yee uncertain for this weekend because of a sprained ankle of her own, Cornell will look to its tri-captains senior Cathy Schnell and junior Randi Bisbano and sophomore Colleen Davis to lead them to another strong performance.

These three captains are all coming off titles in their respective events last weekend and hope for even higher scores this weekend. Beckwith realizes how tough Rutgers and Eastern Michigan will be, but has confidence in his team’s ability to keep getting better as the season progresses.

“We’ll need to have a stellar meet in order to win,” Beckwith said. “But as a team, we haven’t maxed out yet.”

Archived article by Tim Perone
Sun Staff Writer