Cornell gymnastics has been electric for the past three weeks, consistently receiving scores in the high 193 range. This past weekend, the team scored 193.925, nearly beating their season-high score of 194.000.
Despite Cornell’s strong showing, Yale’s impressive 195.100 score edged out the Red. However, as associate head coach Melanie Hall noted, Cornell has finished first or second in the tournament 13 times since 1994, a testament to the excellence sustained by Cornell gymnastics under the guidance of Hall and head coach Paul Beckwith.
Three Cornell gymnasts placed first in their respective events, and were thus crowned Ivy League champions. On vault, freshman Donna Webster won with a 9.800 score; on bars, senior Christina Luniewicz scored 9.850; on floor, sophomore Claire Haklik matched her season-high score of 9.900.
Despite top performances in several categories for the Red, points lost elsewhere cost the team a first-place finish. The team’s slip into second place was primarily due to errors on beam routines.
“Only three people out of the six made their routines, and so beam was really rough for us,” Hall said. “Two of the people who had a rough day on beam were sick.”
Sophomore Claire Haklik stepped up on floor, scoring a strong 9.900 and tying a career-high mark she set at the Big Red Goes Pink Invitational on Feb. 9.
Haklik’s first tumbling pass was mentioned in an episode of GymCastic, a popular gymnastics podcast. One of the judges from the Pink Invitational was interviewed on the podcast, and spoke about Haklik’s pass. Haklik recalled his comments on her performance.
“My first pass is pretty rare to see in NCAA gymnastics, because it is a pretty difficult combination,” Haklik said. “[The judge] talked to them about my first pass, and … how difficult it is and how it was impressive. [He talked] about the Ivy League and how our skills are extremely impressive given that we’re not scholarship athletes.”
Haklik partially credited her success to her pre-meet routine and preparation.
“I have a mindset where I’m like: ‘This is for my team. I have to do this for my team,’” Haklik said. “I go behind the bleachers and … I don’t really watch anybody else.”
“In practice, my teammates have been super supportive … [senior Malia Mackey] especially helps with jumps — my jumps have definitely gotten better and my tumbling passes as well,” Haklik said. “She’s been a huge asset to me.”
The team is improving at just the right moment in the season, with ECAC championships coming up, followed by NCAA Regionals and USAG Collegiate Nationals.
“This coming weekend, we go to Penn State and we see Yale again,” Hall said. “Our goal is to hit all of our routines, and if we hit all of our routines and everybody else does that, then the best team will win.”
Coach Hall and her players have high aspirations for the remainder of their season ahead of the team’s trip to Penn State this weekend.
“I really would like my team to hit 195 [or more],” Haklik said. “Last year at nationals we broke our school record at 195, and I think we can break that again. I want [the team] to be first … at ECACs … [and] I want my team to make it to collegiate national finals.”