Every team enters each season with eyes for a national gold medal. For the gymnastics team, that sight has never been closer. Last year, the women boasted a record-setting season, earning the second-highest score in team history at the USA Gymnastics Collegiate National championships and posting seven NACGC All-Americans, two ECAC individual event-winners and an Ivy Classic champion.
Though the team graduated several seniors last spring, the Red have lost nothing in terms of talent, as the freshman are expected to help to a possible national title.
“The quality of the freshman coming in is excellent,” Beckwith said. “As a [recruited] class as a whole, they are the best.”
Senior co-captain Stacey Ohara, the 2007 ECAC balance beam champion, agreed.
“The skill level this year is going to be a lot greater than pretty much anytime before in the history of Cornell gymnastics,” she said.
Having such a large and talented young group not only helps the Red up front, but gives the team a depth that not only buffers the team from injury and illness throughout the season, but also forces the women to compete amongst themselves for the top-6 spots in each event.
“We have between 12 and 15 [people] on each event vying for the top-6 spots, which is great because in practice there’s a lot of competition within,” Beckwith said.
The 2008 team includes 25 women. Senior co-captain Megan Gilbert was the 2006 ECAC balance beam champion with All-America honors on vault, floor, and beam.
“Now you’re competing against everyone in the gym to get a spot,” Gilbert said.
Perhaps one of the largest motivators for the returning gymnasts this year is their near-miss at the Collegiate National championship last year. Due to a new system, the Red missed advancing into finals by a single place, though they posted the fourth highest score overall.