March 4, 2008

Gymnastics Wins Meet, Nearly Breaks Record

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In close to a season-best mark, the Cornell women’s gymnastics team handed the Rutgers Scarlet Knights their first-ever regular season loss against Cornell on Saturday afternoon, in a tri-meet at Teagle Hall. The Red also defeated West Chester to claim the meet in an impressive 191.45, a mere 0.35 points away from their season record.
Rutgers was second with 187.80 points, and West Chester was a distant third at 168.125.
Improvement on the beam but a fall on the bars resulted in the almost season best performance. On the beam, senior co-captain Megan Gilbert finished first with 9.675, followed by sophomore Brittany Howse and freshman Kim O’Donnell, whose twin scores of 9.625 earned them a second place tie. Senior co-captain Stacey Ohara finished fifth with a 9.55. [img_assist|nid=28513|title=Balancing act|desc=The Red owed its impressive team score in part to strong individual performances on the beam and floor exercises.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
“Beam was a lot better this meet compared to the Ivies,” Ohara said. “Everyone scored a few tenths higher.”  
Freshman Maddie Pearsall tied Ellise Kaplowitz of West Chester for seventh with a 9.375, right after watching teammate sophomore Amanda Chirlin wheeled out of the gym on a stretcher.
“Amanda dislocated her knee… on her dismount. Maddie had to go right after Amanda got hurt so she did really well in focusing and not letting [the] injury get her distracted,” Ohara said.
The women’s overall team score of 47.85 on the beam was 0.8 points higher than last week.
“A lot of us stuck our dismounts with no extra steps so we got extra tenths from there, but there are always little wobbles on beam and that extra pointed toe and bended knee that get deductions,” Ohara said.
On the bars, Pearsall led Cornell 2-3-5 finish with a 9.725. She was also the top all-around performer of the meet with a total of 38.525. Sophomore Molly Parker was third with a 9.675, and junior Jennifer Yee’s 9.55 earned her fifth place. Deductions resulting from a fall on the bars earned the team a 47.275 and lost them critical points that prevented the Red from setting a new season record.
 Cornell was again led by Pearsall on the vault, who won the event with a 9.65. Freshman Emily Santoro tied Alyssa Lewandowski of Rutgers for second with a pair of 9.625’s, Gilbert was fifth with a 9.50, and junior Sari Tepper tied Rutgers’ Maddie Zwiebel for sixth with a 9.45.
The Red proved its strength on the floor exercises, the final event of the day, by dominating with a sweep of the first five spots. Gilbert won the event with a 9.825, followed by sophomore Emily Lenk in second with a 9.80, Pearsall in third with a 9.775, Howse in fourth with a 9.75, and freshman Kerri Lavallee tied Latara Northcutt of Rutgers for fifth with a 9.575.
“On the floor, our last event, everyone got really pumped up and pulled a great high score,” Ohara said. Though the women produced numerous season-best performances and nearly missed posting a record score, the most important aspect of Saturday’s meet was the uncovering of areas that need improvement.
“There’s always room for improvement,” Ohara said.  “Vault scores weren’t very high so we can improve that. Beam and floor did a lot better than last week, but on bars we had to count a fall. Right there, there’s a lot of room for improvement and even though we didn’t get a season high score, counting a fall and going over a 191 is really great. It just shows how much we’re improving throughout the year and it’s helping us really build our confidence going into the [championship] season.”