December 2, 2008

National Runners-Up Look to Repeat

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With five school records, an Ivy title, a runner-up finish at the National championship and an individual Regional qualifier for the first time in a decade, the 2008 season for the gymnastics team was one of unprecedented success.
Last spring, the women capped the best season in the history of Cornell gymnastics with a school-record overall team score of 193.675. The score resulted in the Red’s highest-ever finish of second place at the USAG Collegiate National championship. Last year’s conference Rookie of the Year, sophomore Maddie Pearsall, was also the first Cornell gymnast to qualify for the NCAA Regional meet in 10 years. The All-American returns for her second season with the Red along with fellow All-Americans senior co-captain Sari Tepper, senior Jennifer Yee, junior Brittany Howse and sophomore Kerri Lavallee.
The team will also gain fresh talent from four promising novices and the return of previously injured gymnasts, including junior co-captain Erin Brosey and sophomore Irene Leung.
“We should be in better shape,” said head coach Paul Beckwith. “We are definitely deeper than last year.” Last spring, Beckwith was named the USA Gymnastics Collegiate Coach of the Year for the second consecutive year.
“Even though we lost six spots in our lineup, we can definitely fill them in with the freshman,” said senior co-captain Stacy Ohara. “In addition, some of the girls on the team will be doing more events this year.”
The spectacular success of this past season coupled with a deeper, more talented roster has the gymnastics community very excited for what the Cornell gymnasts might accomplish this year.
“[Our goals are] to win Ivies again and not to count a single fall for every meet,” Ohara said. “And to break the school record again.”
“The records are harder and harder to come by but it is certainly possible,” Beckwith said. “Last year, beam was our Achilles heel performance-wise, and I think other than the people who were injured and are returning, we also have a couple good freshman who are really excited for beam. So, we’re strong in all of the events.”
After several months of base preparation, the gymnasts have begun to perfect their individual routines on the balance beam, uneven bars, floor and vault.
“We’ve started working routines, becoming more consistent and putting skills in,” said junior Brittany Howse.
The highly anticipated action of the Cornell gymnastics team will commence with the first official meet on January 16th.