It was a bittersweet weekend for the gymnastics team, as the Red earned a fourth-place finish and claimed two individual titles at the ECAC championships at the University of Rhode Island this past weekend.
Sophomore Colleen Davis took home an individual championship on the vault, while classmate Megan Gilbert claimed a title of her own in the beam event. The Towson squad claimed the team crown with a score of 191.275, William & Mary finished as the runner-up, and Penn finished third. The Red settled into a tie with Yale for fourth, as both teams posted scores of 188.800, just two-tenths behind the Quakers. Rhode Island, Temple, Brown and James Madison rounded out the nine-team field.
“It’s a good finish for us,” said head coach Paul Beckwith. “We were a little disappointed Penn snuck by us by two-tenths of a point and spoiled our undefeated season in the Ivy League.”
Despite the sting of finishing behind the Quakers, the Red could find comfort in the fact that the combined titles of Davis and Gilbert was the first time in the history of the competition that Cornell has claimed multiple titles.
“Megan has been one of our top performers on beam all year,” Beckwith said. “Colleen has been our top vaulter this year and she was an Ivy champion on vault, so it was great having her do as well as she did. … We really expect big things of them.”
It didn’t seem as if such a happy ending would be in store for the Red coming off the first rotation, which was bars.
“We had a rocky start on bars, which is our best event,” Beckwith said. “It was a less than stellar start and then we just rocked everything else.”
Rhode Island’s Emily Rinaldo claimed the bars title with a score of 9.925. Although the Red was shut out of the top-6 on the bars, the team pulled together and executed in its next event, the beam. Gilbert led the way with her blue-ribbon score of 9.675, closely followed by junior Randi Bisbano, who scored 9.600. Freshman Stacey Ohara rounded out the Red’s top performers, finishing with a mark of 9.575 – good enough for fourth place.
“Beam couldn’t have been better. Placing one, two and four was fabulous,” Beckwith said. “We typically have, on any given day, the most mistakes [on beam].”
The dramatic turnaround continued throughout the vault and floor events. Davis’ score of 9.750 tied her for the top spot with Towson’s Christina Ghani, who had defeated Davis in a dual meet earlier this season. Junior Kari Kucera was the only Cornell gymnast to place in the floor excercise, scoring a 9.700 to lock into a three-way tie for fourth place with Kimberly So and Miki Seltzer from Yale. Brittani Gibbs of William & Mary took home the individual title with a 9.875 mark.
“They were really happy. Obviously, we wish we had done a little bit better on bars,” Beckwith said. “We were rough on bars, had a fall on beam. We could have been two points higher, which would have been great.”
This year’s showing was a drastic improvement on the Red’s seventh-place finish in 2005. Beckwith hopes the upward trend will continue as the squad looks ahead to three weeks of preparation before hosting the USAG Collegiate National Championships in Bartels Hall on April 13 and lasting until April 15. In 2005, Cornell finished sixth out of eight squads at nationals and received All-America performances from Bisbano, Gilbert, and senior Cathy Schnell.
“Now they know what they need to work on in the next couple of weeks – we need to work on confidence,” Beckwith said. “We’ve been through this enough times that we know what’s done is done and it has absolutely no bearing on the future.”
Archived article by Olivia Dwyer
Sun Sports Editor