February 26, 2008

Gymnastics Vaults Past Competition at Ivy Classic

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While the number of spectators in Newman Arena drastically decreased from Saturday’s basketball game to Sunday’s gymnastics competition, the level of energy and excitement was equally intense as Cornell claimed the Ivy Classic championship with a blazing, season-high score of 191.80. This score signifies the team’s fifth consecutive improvement on their season-high mark. Coming in second place was Yale (189.05), followed by third-place Penn (188.025) and fourth-place Brown (186.725).
Superior performances on the uneven bars and balance beam put the women ahead after two events and in a much better scoring position than they have been early in previous meets.
“We really had to start off well because the beam and bars have been our problem events in past meets,” said junior Sari Tepper. “Basically we knew that we had to hit [our routines], and we couldn’t count any falls.”
Tepper was a leading scorer for the Red, finishing fifth on the floor excercises and fourth on the vault.
On the bars, Cornell was led by freshman Gabriella Sanguinetti, whose score of 9.65 was good enough for a second-place tie with Brown’s Vida Rivera. Junior Jennifer Yee finished fifth with a 9.625, followed closely by freshman Maddie Pearsall, whose 9.60 secured sixth place. Factoring no falls into the team score on bars enabled the women to mount the beam with confidence, where the Red found similar results. Senior co-captain Megan Gilbert earned sixth place with a score of 9.50.
“After the first two events we knew we were going to at least come close to [our best score]. Once we hit the beam and didn’t have to count any falls, we were good for the floor and vault and we knew we could do it,” Tepper said.
“We were really pumped up from the start, which helped us a lot,” Pearsall said. “I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but the team was really into it and from the start the energy was really high.”
Success on the bars and beam further empowered the Red during the final two events, where spectacular performances on both the floor and vault carried the women to their Ivy title and impressive overall score.
Pearsall led Cornell on the floor, winning her first Ivy individual title with a career-high mark of 9.80. She was Cornell’s only individual event winner and the third best all-around scorer of the day.
Teammates Gilbert and sophomore Brittany Howse tied for third with a pair of 9.75’s, and Tepper finished fifth with a 9.725. On the vault, Howse was second with a 9.725, Tepper and freshman Emily Santoro tied for fourth with scores of 9.675, and Pearsall finished sixth with a 9.65.
The Red’s team score on the floor (48.675) and vault (48.30) were both season-best team scores, while bars (47.775) and beam (47.050) both were nearly a full point higher than last week’s total. Cornell’s progress stems from an increased focus on the details of each routine and the diligent polishing of any aspect that falls short of perfection.
“[Improvement] is really about hitting it in practice, and it’s about all the little things,” Pearsall said. “Everyone gets through their routines now, so it’s about straightening your legs and pointing your toes and just having confidence when you get up on each event.”
“We worked really hard this week at correcting what’s gone wrong previously,” Tepper said.
Simply more experience and solid performances on the bars and the beam were the keys to the team’s success this weekend, according to Tepper.[img_assist|nid=28207|title=Champions of the mat|desc=The Red gymnastics team celebrates its Ivy Classic championship on Sunday.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
“We started off a lot better [on Sunday]; that definitely helped. I think a lot of it is focusing on what we did last meet and trying to better ourselves,” Tepper said. “Also, each time that we do well we get more confident and then at the next meet we can use that confidence to do better.”
Winning the Ivy championship and scoring a 191.80 can now be added to the team’s growing list of accomplishments as they continue the championship season.
“Winning the Ivies has been our goal and [we] were really proud that we were able to come together and make it happen,” Pearsall said. “It was really exciting. It was crazy! It was so much fun.”