March 11, 2008

Gymnastics Beats Temple on Road

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Like the rest of the Cornell campus, the women’s gymnastics team is ready for a break after finishing their eighth consecutive weekend of competition with a victory. The Red defeated Temple on the road 190.375 to 189.125 Saturday afternoon, with spectacular performances on the vault and uneven bars. The Red’s early success was crucial for the team, as four falls were included in the scoring on balance beam, the final event of the day.
On the vault, freshman Kerri Lavallee broke onto the collegiate scene with a strong performance after struggling with injuries for most of the season. Lavallee’s 9.875 not only won the event, but tied the school record, matching Rachel Goldberg’s 2004 record score.
“We started off great,” said sophomore Brittany Howse. “Kerri is new in our line-up, she just entered and had an absolutely great vault. She stepped up last and had the highest score.”
Howse and freshman Emily Santoro tied for third in the event, with identical scores of 9.625. Freshman Maddie Pearsall’s 9.55 earned her sixth place. The scores combined for an impressive 48.175 team total on the vault. [img_assist|nid=28725|title=Look out below|desc=Freshman Kerri Lavallee competes in the Ivy Classic on Feb. 24. Lavallee won the vaut this past weekend.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
The Red found similar success on the bars, as junior Jennifer Yee led the way, winning the event with a 9.725. Freshman Gabriella Sanguineti was second with 9.675, and sophomore Molly Parker and Pearsall tied for third with a pair of 9.65’s. The team’s overall score of 48.125 on bars was the highest mark they’ve posted for that event all season.
“Our bars team really stepped it up,” Howse said.
On the floor, stritct judging lowered the Red’s typically high marks, but the gymnasts’ performances were as good as they have been all year. Howse’s score of 9.675 earned her second place, while senior co-captain Megan Gilbert and sophomore Emily Lenk tied for third with dual scores of 9.625. Lavallee and Pearsall also tied, sharing fifth place with twin 9.525’s. The overall team score of 47.975, which put the Red well ahead of its oponents after the first three events.
“Floor went pretty well,” Howse said. “The scoring was a little bit low but everyone hit their routines.”
The Red lost some of its momentum and balance heading into the final event of the day.
“We ended on beam and it was a rough ending to the meet that started off so well,” Howse said. “It was a little bit disappointing. Counting four falls on the beam cost the team nearly two points in deductions.
“We had to count a lot of falls on the beam but we still won because we had strong finishes on the other events,” Lavallee said.
Two standout performances on beam came from junior co-captain Stacy Ohara, who earned second place with an impressive 9.60, and freshman Kim O’Donnell, who was fourth with a 9.375. Finishing the meet on the beam was a challenge the Red hasn’t had to face often this season with so many meets at home.
“That was our last event so everybody was a little bit nervous,” O’Donnell said. “That was our first time finishing on beam, so it might have thrown a couple people off,”
“I think everyone had an off day, and being away the crowd was all for Temple,” Lavallee said. “There was a lot of negative cheering toward us which didn’t help. Being the last event always makes beam a lot harder; beam is the hardest event in gymnastics to have last.”
Despite the challenges of an away crowd and finishing on a difficult event, the women were still able to hold off Temple, who also lost points because of falls, but edged Cornell in the event, 46.225-46.10.
“Everyone will focus a little more on beam and we’ll work on making sure everyone stays on,” O’Donnell said. “[We] know that if we can pull up beam, we can do really well and beat some big teams.”