Cornell gymnastics just keeps getting better. After impressive back-to-back performances in its last two times out, the Red leapt over its season-high mark with a score of 194.575.
On Saturday Cornell gymnastics made the relatively short three-hour drive to Penn State where they competed against the Pennsylvania powerhouse along with Arizona State and Yale.
The Red was particularly excited to face off against the reigning Ivy champions, Yale. The team from New Haven beat Cornell by 1.175 points in the Ivy Classic Championship at the end of February, leaving Cornell disappointed with a second-place finish.
However, the Red came back with a vengeance this weekend, scoring a season high 194.575 and beating the Bulldogs, who came in at 194.100.
“A goal we had going into the weekend was redemption, so for us to beat Yale was really exciting,” junior Payton Murphy said. Murphy had the Red’s highest score on beam at 9.825.
Despite Cornell’s high score, the Red finished third behind the two larger schools. Yale settled into fourth place. Penn State and Arizona State are teams made up of scholarship athletes, as opposed to the non-scholarship Cornell athletes. That Cornell’s score was less than two points below these highly-ranked schools is a testament to the Red’s prowess.
“We probably don’t have a chance to beat Penn State or Arizona State, but you never know,” associate head coach Melanie Hall said before the meet. “Our goal is to hit all of our routines.”
The Red’s goal was certainly met. Cornell’s victory over Yale is proof of how the team has been improving from one week to the next.
In practice last week, the Red focused particularly on events that needed improvement. During the Ivy Championship, the team’s beam routines fell short and cost the Red the title.
“We worked pressure sets on beam,” Murphy said. “We did the best beam rotation we’ve had all season.”
Pressure sets, Murphy explained, are where each athlete performs her beam routine with the whole team observing, simulating the pressure felt during a competition. It seemed to have worked — the team’s score on beam, normally a weak category for the Red, was on par with bars and vault last weekend.
“The goal,” said Hall, “is to be consistent so our average comes up and also so that [the athletes] have confidence going into bigger meets.”
Over the next few weekends, Cornell will compete against a lineup of New England schools in one-on-one meets in preparation for ECAC regionals at the end of March. Next weekend, the Red travels to Bridgeport, Conn. to compete against the University of Bridgeport.