January 29, 2013

GYMNASTICS | Red Opens Home Season With Win

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In its first home dual meet of the season, the gymnastics team topped visiting Cortland, 188.675-176.525. The Red won all four team and individual events, placing the top three finishers in three of the events.

After being on the road for its first two meets of the season, returning to Teagle was a welcome advantage, according to senior McKenna Archer.

“We always love competing at home,” she said. “It’s definitely an advantage to be familiar with the equipment and to have our friends and family supporting us. This past weekend, we had an especially impressive crowd and we’re very grateful to all those who came out. It definitely helps keep the energy up.”

The meet against Cortland was the first dual meet win of the season after the Red finished third of five teams and third of four teams in meets at George Washington and Pitt respectively. However, despite the first victory, the judges scored the gymnasts lower than he expected, according to head coach Paul Beckwith.

“In general, we had some great performances,” Beckwith said. “The judges, however, were scoring lower than we have seen in years. Consequently, we had athletes with their best performance of the year scoring their lowest score of the season … [which was] very frustrating.”

Cornell scored 47.450 or better on bars, floor and vault; however, the team had to count two falls on beam. Beam has been a tough event for the Red this season, which Beckwith attributed to working out “competition nerves” before the meet against Cortland.

“We are really working hard to increase consistency on beam,” Archer added. “It’s an event where we have a lot of talent and depth, and we just need to show that during meets. It’s a stressful event and it’s early in the season so we’re optimistic that our beam scores will improve quickly.”

Archer was the Red’s top finisher in the event, posting a 9.675. Junior Melanie Jorgensen placed second with 9.525, while sophomore Maia Vernacchia took third with 9.325. Freshman Kaylie Cronin tied for fourth with 8.800 in her first competition at home.

While beam was a tough event for both teams, the Red excelled on bars. Cornell placed the top five finishers, with Jorgenson taking first with 9.700. Senior Sarah Hein placed second with 9.525, and sophomore Abbie Thompson (9.500) and junior Sarah Wetter (9.450) took third and fourth, respectively. According to Beckwith, Wetter and Hein gave their best performances of the season thus far.

“On bars, Sarah Wetter and Sarah Hein had beautiful routines, and Melanie Jorgensen also hit a great routine for the highest score of the day,” he said.

The Red also had a strong showing on vaults, with six of its starters finishing in the top eight. Freshman Madeline Martinez posted the highest score in the event with a 9.725, followed once again by Archer with a 9.600.

“Vault was particularly strong for us this weekend, although you wouldn’t be able to tell from the scores,” Archer said, echoing Beckwith’s sentiment that the judges underscored in this meet. “Really everyone in the lineup nailed their vaults.”

In the floor exercise, three competitors — two from Cornell and one from Cortland — tied for the top spot with a 9.750. ­One of them was freshman Kennedy Prentice, who was competing on floor for the first time and tied Archer and Cortland’s Courtney Mangini for first place.

“It was a very impressive routine with a lot of difficulty, and we were really proud of her for stepping up the first time she competed in the lineup,” Archer said.

The Red’s next dual meet will be against Towson, who has given the Red trouble in the past. The squad is hoping an improved performance on beams will help them top the Tigers.

“Our goal is to polish our routines on vault, bars and floor and improve our performance a lot on beam,” Beckwith said. “If we can hit beam, we have a shot at beating Towson, which is a fully funded scholarship team.”

Although matching up against a team with the ability to bring gymnasts to the school on scholarship will be a disadvantage for the Red, the squad can look forward to being at home for the second straight weekend. “Towson is a talented, full scholarship team and it will be a highly competitive meet as a result,” Archer said. “We definitely hope to build off our meet against Cortland and it’s another home meet, so hopefully we will have a great crowd like last week

Original Author: Scott Chiusano