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Women's gymnastics gives strong performance at Yale

By Catherine Rocchio

The MIT Women's Gymnastics team recently completed one of the busiest weeks of its 1990 season with a meet at Yale on Saturday, January 20th. The Engineers emerged victorious against their Division III competitors, scoring 154.55 to Bridgewater State's 136.7 and 154.3 to Rhode Island College's 144.55, but in the end losing to Yale's Division I Team.

The meet against Yale had several impressive moments for the MIT team, one of these being the vaulting event. Gretchen Martin '92 and Rachel McCarthy '90 performed beautiful handspring vaults for respective scores of 7.5 and 8.1, while the half-on vaults of Allison Arnold '90 and Rose Rocchio '90 earned solid scores of 8.2 and 8.45. Lisa Arel '92 landed her vault for a score of 8.75, while Kortney Leabourne '92 had the best vault of the day for MIT and scored 8.8 to place third overall on the vaulting event.

Although the uneven bars and balance beam events were not the high points of MIT's performance, Arel performed with her usual aplomb and earned an 8.55 on the uneven bars. She also overcame a fall on the balance beam for a score of 7.7. Leabourne had a clean routine on the bars and scored 7.75, while Rocchio used her routine on the balance beam to help the team with a score of 7.4.

The floor exercise showed more of MIT's usual strength with Leabourne, Arnold, and Rocchio scoring 7.1, 7.2, and 7.7 respectively. Arel rounded out another fine day with a score of 8.7 for her floor exercise. Her routine included a front somi through to a full-twist in the first pass, a full-twist in the second tumbling run, and finished with a half-twisting Arabian front somersault.

MIT came home on Wednesday night determined to perform their best routines. Arel earned her highest score of the season on the vaulting event for the meet-winning score of 9.0, while Rocchio, Arnold, Leabourne, and McCarthy all backed her up with their consistent performances for scores of 8.3, 8.2, 8.25, and 8.0.

The uneven bars routines showed more of the same prowess. Arel led the way to win the event with her score of 8.65, while Leabourne was right behind her in second place with a score of 7.55. Rocchio and Arnold both showed their experience with their routines and earned 7.3 and 7.15 for their efforts, with Rocchio swinging into third place on the event. The

balance beam highlighted a smooth routine by Paula Aqui '89 and Arnold's difficult tumbling moves, which earned her a 7.4 for a routine that included back handsprings and a front somi. Arnold placed third on the event. Arel won her third event of the night with her unflinching aggressiveness, performing a one armed backhandspring, a back somi, two backhandsprings, and a backhandspring to a full-twisting dismount for a score of 8.7.

The floor exercise was the best overall performance by MIT thus far this season. Aqui and Martin performed energetically for scores of 7.05 and 7.2, while Leabourne and Arnold scored 7.65 and 7.7 for their amplitude and grace. Rocchio's advanced tumbling earned her an 8.0 and third place on the event, while Arel earned her second 9.0 of the evening and won the event easily.

Overall, Arel won the meet with her season's highest score of 35.35, Rocchio taking third place with a 30.85. Arnold also had a good day and was close behind in fourth place with her all-around score totalling 30.4.

Last, but not least, was MIT's competition against rivals Rhode Island College Saturday afternoon. The vaulting squad performed solidly as usual as MIT swept first, second, and third places with Arel, Arnold, and Leabourne earning 8.7, 8.35, and 8.3 for their full-twisting vaults. Rocchio, McCarthy, and Martin were also vaulting to their best abilities for scores of 8.2, 8.1, and 7.6.

Rocchio earned third place on the uneven bars for her clean routine and score of 7.5, and it was no surprise that Arel again won the event with her handstands and full-twisting dismount to a score of 8.65. The balance beam proved to be MIT's trouble spot of the afternoon, but Arnold and Rocchio scored well, earning 7.2 and 7.3 despite falls. Arel fought to stay on the beam during her tumbling series and took second in the event with a score of 8.65 for her efforts and determination.

MIT's momentum brought them to the floor exercise with high expectations. A farewell performance by Andrea Pease '90 for a 7.0 boosted MIT's confidence, as did a graceful routine by Arnold, who earned 7.65. The finest performances thus far by Leabourne and Rocchio further cemented victory for the Engineers as their scores of 8.1 and 8.05 earned them third and fourth place on the event. Arel brought the crowds to their feet as she broke the MIT Floor Exercise record with her score of 9.1 and her lively routine to "Flashdance."

Arel won the meet overall with a 35.1 while Rocchio had her best overall score of 31.1.

MIT will travel to Ithaca this weekend to face Ithaca College in what will be one of their most difficult Division III matches of the season. The match promises to provide a good chance to warm up for their upcoming match with defending New England Champions Salem State.

Editor's Note: Catherine Rocchio '89 is the assistant coach of the Women's Gymnastics Team.