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Arel leads gymnastics team to new record score in loss

By Catherine Rocchio

The women's gymnastics team set yet another team record Wednesday night, scoring 154.6 against defending New England and Division III Eastern Champion Salem State College. Salem nonetheless won the meet with a final tally of 158.8.

This meet marked the narrowest ever defeat to Salem in the history of MIT gymnastics. The two teams met last week, and Salem State walked off with an 11-point victory, 162.4-151.0. At that meet, Lisa Arel '92 became the first gymnast in over two years to defeat Salem State's Jill Russell, the two-time defending New England all-around champion.

In the return match Wednesday at DuPont, Arel again easily won the meet, scoring 34.80 by winning the uneven bars and the balance beam and taking second place on the vault and floor exercise. Her winning form earned her another victory over Russell, who scored 34.45. Arel's power and solid difficulty on the balance beam earned her a score of 8.8 while a beautiful handstand on the high bar earned her the same score on the uneven bars.

Allison Arnold '90 had her best meet of the season, scoring 32.35 all-around to earn fourth place overall. She performed consistently on the vault (8.3) and showed stunning talent on both the uneven bars, where she placed third with an 8.25. Arnold stuck a balance beam routine packed full of difficult tumbling tricks and scored 8.55 for another third place.

Kortney Leabourne '92 also had her best meet of the season, scoring 30.85 overall. Especially notable was her first place handspring full-twisting vault which earned her the event score of 8.55. She also performed a fast-paced floor exercise with high tumbling and graceful dance for a score of 7.95.

Rose Rocchio '90 stuck her beam routine including two backhandsprings and a roundoff for a score of 7.75. Rose also had her highest score of the season on the floor exercise where an Arabian somersault and precise dance earned her an 8.15.

MIT is looking ahead to Sunday, when the New England Championships will be held in DuPont Gymnasium. MIT is currently ranked second in the division but hopes to overtake Salem State and win the title. Arel is presently ranked third in the nation and has certainly assured herself a spot at the national championships as well as a top seeded spot at this weekend's Championships.

(Editor's note: Catherine Rocchio '89 is a co-captain of the women's gymnastics team.)