March 31, 2008

Red Takes Third at ECACs

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With only Nationals remaining in the 2008 season, the future of the women’s gymnastics team remains bright after a successful weekend at the ECAC championships held in Williamsburg, Va. The Red posted another season-high mark of 192.075 to finish just out of second in the eight-team field. In addition to the season-best overall mark, freshman Maddie Pearsall was named the 2008 ECAC Rookie of the Year.
“Going into the meet we were ranked second, and I think that was our goal, if not first of course,” Pearsall said. “It was really close, so we were happy with how we did.”
The meet started off on the floor exercise, which has been one of Cornell’s strongest events throughout the season. Sophomore Brittany Howse continued the trend by scoring an incredible 9.825 to tie Alina Liao of Yale for third place. On the vault, freshman Emily Santoro was the Red’s top finisher with an eighth-place finish. Her score of 9.650 was just ahead of those of teammates freshman Kerri Lavallee and senior co-captain Megan Gilbert, who tied for ninth place with a pair of 9.625s.[img_assist|nid=29283|title=I can’t do that|desc=Sophomore Amanda Chirlin and the Red took third at the ECACs this weekend behind strong beam performances.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
“We had really strong standings in all the events,” said freshman Danielle Martinez, who competed for the first time all season on Saturday.
The third event of the day proved to be the strongest of standings for the Red this week, as the uneven bars group saw three gymnasts post a season-best score. The overall team score of 48.450 was higher than in the other three events. Pearsall and freshman Gabby Sanguinetti tied three other gymnasts for fourth place with all five scores tying at 9.775.
“Our bars were really strong this week, and that was probably our standout event in terms of improvement since the last meet,” Pearsall said. “Everybody did pretty solid. Gabby and I got a 9.775, which is our season best. [Freshman] Molly Parker also got her season best score.”
Parker tied for 10th in the event with a score of 9.725.
Perhaps the best individual performance of the day came from the rookie Martinez on the balance beam. Martinez, who stepped onto the mat for the first time after spending the season overcoming injury, finished in a tie for fourth place on beam with a score of 9.825.
“Danielle broke into the beam lineup for the first time and [her score] was amazing,” Pearsall said.
“[A 9.825] is actually the best score I’ve ever gotten,” Martinez said. “I just did exhibition last weekend coming off an injury, so I sort of tested the waters there. After my performance, they put me in the lineup. It was very exciting for me just to be on the competition floor again.”
Gilbert placed eighth with an impressive 9.750, while freshman Kim O’Donnell was right behind in a ninth-place tie. O’Donnell’s score on the beam was a 9.725. While most of the performances in the first three events were quality, the Red was forced to count a few falls in the overall score before mounting the beam.
“The competition came down to beam because we had to count three falls on all of the events combined, which knocked us out of second place,” Martinez said. “Throughout the whole year, we’ve had to count a fall in each meet, so we haven’t even gotten our highest score yet that we could possibly get. We definitely still have room to improve.”
Cornell returned to Ithaca ranked fourth for the USAG Nationals.
“We are really psyched,” Pearsall said. “Now we’ll be practicing hitting our routines in a row and doing pressure sets to get used to the kind of pressure that you feel in a meet [such as Nationals].”