April 15, 2013

GYMNASTICS | Red Travels to USAG Nationals

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Over the weekend, the gymnastics team traveled to Shreveport, La., where the Red was one of eight schools to participate in the 2013 USAG Collegiate National Championships. While Cornell did not advance past the preliminaries as a team, gymnasts made it through to the finals with each event being represented.

Senior tri-captain McKenna Archer was a standout performer for the Red on Friday night, advancing in both the beam and bars events. A former All-American on vault, Archer was able to add beam and floor honors to her successful career with the Red.

“Honestly, I would have been shocked to have qualified on either beam or floor individually, so I really couldn’t believe that I made it on both,” Archer said. “I was first up on beam in the individual finals out of everyone and I was extremely nervous, but I ended up hitting probably the best beam routine I’ve done in my college career. When I stuck my dismount, I was just so excited hit my last beam routine ever. When I later went on to hit my floor routine, I was extremely happy to have had the opportunity to finished out my career with two solid routines.”

Archer capped off her Cornell career with two Top-10 finishing, placing seventh on beam with a 9.750 and 10th on floor with a 9.700. Also progressing to the final round was senior tri-captain Sarah Hein. On Friday afternoon, Hein earned her second consecutive All-America honor on vault with a 9.750 finish. Sunday marked Hein’s first time competing in the USAG finals.

“It was an amazing experience competing in event finals for the first time in my career,” Hein said. “On vault in finals, unlike in a normal team competition, the gymnast has to perform two vaults instead of the usual one.  I had the opportunity to compete against some amazing vaulters, including former olympians, so I was honored to earn a spot in the final competition.”

Sunday marked the last time that both Archer and Hein would compete on the collegiate circuit.

“As a senior, this last round of competition was my last chance to perform a gymnastics routine,” Hein said. “And since, like most gymnasts, I’ve been doing gymnastics since I was five years old, it was a pretty big deal.  It meant so much to me to have my whole team and my family there cheering me on, that it didn’t really matter the outcome of the competition.”

According to Hein, competing in the finals was a very emotional experience.

“One image that will stay with me forever is looking up into the stands after landing my last competitive vault and seeing my whole team and family standing on their feet cheering for me,” Hein said. “Needless to say, I kind of lost it, and burst into tears at that point.”

Rounding out the three gymnasts representing the Red in the finals was junior Melanie Jorgensen. In 2011, Jorgensen was named the national champion on the uneven bars. On Sunday, she finished with a 9.800, which was good for a second place tie, placing her .050 behind Penn’s Kristen Strausbaugh in first with 9.850.

“We are all so proud of Melanie Jorgensen for placing second in a very competitive uneven bars individual finals competition,” Archer said.

The Red will be losing three seniors when Archer, Hein and tri-captain Ashley Maher graduate in a few weeks; however, the junior class is ready to step up and fill the leadership positions for the rest of the team. Archer’s advice to her underclass an teammates is to appreciate their time at Cornell.

“Treasure every second you have with your teammates and at Cornell in general,” she explained. “Before you know it, you’ll be counting down the days until graduation and you won’t be ready to leave. Good or bad, every experience makes your overall time spent at Cornell some of the best and most unique years of your life. Thank you all for making my last years of gymnastics the best.”

Original Author: Lauren Ritter