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Arel takes fourth in NCAA gym nationals

By Michael J. Garrison

MIT gymnast Lisa Arel '92 visited the NCAA Division III Championships over the weekend and took home fourth place overall and four all-American citations. She also placed in three of four individual events.

Arel qualified for the two day meet, held in Lacrosse, WI, on the basis of her all-around scores from the season. She is the first MIT woman gymnast to attend nationals, as well as the first to be named an all-American.

The gymnasts competed in all four events on Friday in order to determine the all-around standings, as well as to qualify for individual events on Saturday. Arel's all-around score of 34.9 was the fourth best of the day. Mary Levin of the University of Wisconsin/Oshkosh won the all-around with a 36.5, leading her team to first place in the team competition.

Arel's first day scores ranged from 9.0 in the floor exercise to 8.7 on the beam and 8.6 on both the vault and the bars. Only the top 12 competitors in each event qualified for the Saturday's individual competition. Arel qualified in all four events.

Saturday's scores were even higher, as she earned 9.0 on the bars, 8.9 on the vault, 8.8 on the floor, and 8.6 on the beam. Placings were determined by adding the results of both days, and Arel placed third on the floor and fifth on the bars and the beam. She earned all-American honors in all-around and the three events in which she placed.

"I was consistent both days," Arel said. She did not try any special routines for the nationals but instead "hit all [her] routines, both days."

"It was hard to compete against teams" as an individual, Arel noted. Most of the competitors were members of teams which had qualified. Only the top seven individuals who did not qualify with a team were invited to attend.

Arel performed with a bruised heel, suffering the injury during Thursday's practice session. For a time, she said, she did not think that she would be able to compete in the meet.