February 19, 2008

Gymnastics Takes Second After Slow Start

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The boys of summer and the women of the Cornell gymnastics team have one major thing in common: a little voice inside their heads saying “Don’t look back, you can never look back.”
The Red has bettered its overall score for the fourth consecutive week, earning another season-high mark of 190.525, good for second place at the Shelli Calloway Invitational at Towson University on Friday night. The host Tigers won with a 192.550 score.
The Red finished well ahead of third-place Temple (188.275), while Penn and Ursinus trailed with overall marks of 187.90 and 184.65, respectively. Not only is 190.525 the highest score the women have earned this season, but the mark was accomplished despite disappointing results on the first two events of the night. A fall on both the uneven bars and the balance beam put the Red in fourth place after two events.
“We went in with the mindset that we had to hit everything and that we also had to be really clean,” said sophomore Brittany Howse, who has consistently been a top finisher for the Red. “We had a good attitude entering the meet but we struggled a bit in the first rotation.”[img_assist|nid=27960|title=Floor general|desc=Helping to spark a Cornell comeback, sophomore Brittany Howse placed a team-best third in the floor event with a score of 9.80.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
Senior co-captain Megan Gilbert was Cornell’s only top-6 finisher on the beam, placing third with a season-high score of 9.575. On the bars, freshman Gabriella Sanguineti was fourth with a 9.70. After a couple falls and several disappointing performances, however, the Red headed into the second half of the meet in second-to-last place.
“After beam [head coach Paul Beckwith] got us all together and he was like, ‘look, we didn’t have the best first rotation, but that doesn’t matter. You still have two more events and you can pull it up from here,’” Howse said.
Beckwith’s words rang true, as the Red then proceeded to earn season-high team marks on both the floor (48.425) and the vault (48.275), boosting Cornell to its second-place finish. Howse led the Red on the floor, placing third with a high score of 9.80.
Gilbert and junior Sari Tepper were close behind with scores of 9.70, while on the vault, Howse, senior Leslie Gregory, and freshman Maddie Pearsall all tied for sixth place with scores of 9.675.
“The coaches talked to us to pump us up and turn it around, then on floor and vault everyone hit their routines and did really well,” Gilbert said. “We were happy with the way we turned the meet around and came back from our shaky start.”
“The coaches basically motivated everyone to do their best on floor and vault and it actually worked out really well. We had a really solid vault group,” Howse said. “We did a great job and pulled ourselves all the way up to second place, and we beat the third place team by two points.”
Earning a season-best score after a weak start and on unfamiliar equipment in an arena known for drawing huge home crowds is an accomplishment that Gilbert said was the product of experience.
“Being away is always harder because the equipment is different. As we do more meets and get more experience, we get less nervous and focus on the details of routines rather than just making them,” Gilbert said. “We try to clean up certain parts.”
“This [meet] was a little bit different because it was our first night meet, but it’s always hard to compete at Towson because they have such a great home crowd,” Howse said. “It was definitely a morale booster for next week.”