January 22, 2008

Freshmen Help Gymnastics to Fourth

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As the gymnastics team stepped into the Charles E. Smith Athletic Center at Sunday’s George Washington Invitational, the scrapes, blisters, cuts and bruises from a first semester full of practice and training were only distant memories. As the team formed new blisters and new memories, it fought its way to a fourth-place finish behind a team score of 185.975.
In addition to Cornell and host GWU, the event featured teams from UNC, Rutgers, Temple and William & Mary.
This event was the first ever NCAA competition for many of the team members, as this year’s team boasts a highly vaunted class of nine freshmen. Though inexperienced at the NCAA level, the freshmen gymnasts produced some solid results and were able to learn a lot from the competition.
“It was more fun than I would have imagined for my first college meet because the energy was so high,” said freshman Danielle Scott. “We learned that we should go into [events] feeling fresh and excited to get all the nerves out and that set the pace for a good season.”[img_assist|nid=26724|title=Don’t fall|desc=The gymnastics team had some standout performances from its class of nine freshmen in its fourth-place finish.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
Junior co-captain Stacey Ohara, last year’s ECAC champion on the beam, was really impressed with how the freshmen handled the high level of pressure and intensity.
“The freshmen going out and competing for the first time at Cornell really showed that they are competitors and that they can … help the team out,” Ohara said. “I think they did a great job with all of the noise and the pressure. They had a lot of fun.”
Highlighting the competition for the Red were three individual top-10 finishes.
In vault, freshman Emily Santoro posted a 9.650 that was good for a seventh-place finish, while junior Sari Tepper was close behind, scoring a 9.625 to finish eighth. Santoro was pleased with her performance, but notes that there is room for improvement.
“I was excited that I landed my vault and was able to post a good score for the team,” Santoro said. “But at the same time I hope that I can improve my landing to get a higher score next time.”
In the floor exercise event, senior co-captain Megan Gilbert, an ECAC champion last year and an USAG All-American as a sophomore, scored a 9.500 that landed her in ninth place.
On bars, Cornell received some encouraging results as freshman Irene Leung notched a 9.525 and senior Leslie Gregory added a 9.500. However, a third score of 8.050 dropped the Red to last place in bars.
The Red also had some impressive performances on beam, as freshman Kim O’Donnell secured a 9.500, combined with a 9.450 from junior co-captain Stacey Ohara and a 9.400 from Danielle Scott.
The UNC Tar Heels were the champions on the day, as they finished with a score of 193.575, good enough to edge out the victory over second-place GWU.
Ohara, last year’s ECAC champion, was pleased with her team’s overall performance, but is looking for bigger and better things as the season progresses.
“For the first meet of the season, we did extremely well,” Ohara said. “We are really proud of the way that we performed. But we still have a lot of work to do and we are excited with how we started off the season.”