Leilani Burke/Sun Staff Photographer

Freshman Savannah Kokaly doing an exhibition routine on the balance beam at the competition against West Chester.

January 28, 2022

Gymnastics Hopes New Talent Will Reverse Slow Start

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After a two year hiatus, gymnastics returned to competition last weekend. While the Red started its season with losses to West Chester University in Newman Arena and at the Lindsey Ferris Invitational, there is plenty to be excited about in the world of Cornell gymnastics.

The team’s new young talent has wasted no time making an immediate impact. One such newcomer is freshman Kate Michelini. Michelini has had a hot start to the 2022 season, recording two top ten all-time Cornell scores in the first home dual meet of the season against West Chester. 

“I was very surprised to hear that I had earned top scores,” Michelini said. “I always try to do my best in competition. It is great when it works out the way I want it to, especially since it helps my team.”

Michelini, who qualified for the Junior Olympics last year, will be an integral part of the team’s future.

Another promising newcomer is freshman Sydney Beers, who also performed well against West Chester, posting a 38.450 in the all-around, good enough for sixth best in Cornell history. 

Beers qualified for Junior Olympics three times, though she asserted that college gymnastics is very different from other levels.

”Gymnastics is not an individual sport anymore,” Beers said. “It’s all about the team and what is best for them.”

Michelini agreed, adding that college competitions feel far more collaborative than those in high school, where medals are based upon individual performance instead of group efforts.

“That structure can make competitions lonely, sometimes awkward, extremely nerve-racking, and difficult to enjoy since every girl is competing with every girl on her own team,” Michelini said.

Michelini explained that while the college structure of competition is a great fit for her, it still required an arduous transition — not in her physical skills, but her mental ones.

“My coaches treat me like an adult and I have a lot more control over how I choose to prepare.”

While there is plenty of work to be done, Michelini expressed satisfaction with how things have kicked off.

“Having started out with some success has been energizing,” she said. “It makes me want to push myself further to see if I can do even better.”

The meet at Kent kicks off on 7 p.m. Friday.