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Women's gym beats Salem to remain undefeated

@ByName:By Catherine Rocchio

MIT's triumph over Salem State marks the first time that the Salem gymnasts have been defeated in a dual meet in five years. The victory was sweet for the MIT women, who had never before beaten Salem.

The Salem State meet, held in Dupont Gymnasium, opened with the vaulting event. Gretchen Martin '92 and tri-captain Rachel McCarthy '90 landed solid handspring vaults for scores of 7.5 and 8.0, while tri-captains Rose Rocchio '90 and Allison Arnold '90 stuck their twisting vaults for a 7.6 and an 8.0. Lisa Arel '92 and Kortney Leabourne '92 both vaulted a handspring full-twist and took second and third places with their scores of 8.7 and 8.05.

MIT went to bars 0.35 points behind Salem State, and proceeded to turn the meet around with this event. Paula Aqui '89 had a clean bar routine and earned her season's highest score of 6.7, and Arnold and Rocchio helped the team on with their scores of 7.0 and 7.65. Leabourne took third place with a strong routine and a score of 7.8, while Arel won the event with her giant swing to a handstand and full-twisting dismount for a score of 8.65. MIT won the uneven bars event 37.2 to Salem's 31.9.

The balance beam proved to be a small stumbling block for the MIT team with the gymnasts performing difficult tricks but taking a lot of falls. Rocchio was able to stay on the beam and earned a 7.3 and Arel took second place with her tumbling series, back somersault in the air, and high flying dismount for a score of 8.75. Salem State won the event by a small margin however with 36.6 to MIT's 35.75.

The Engineers competed on the floor exercise with determination and energy to secure their triumph. Arnold and McCarthy tumbled high and danced gracefully for a 7.4 and 7.45, respectively; Leabourne's fast pace earned her a 7.75; and Rocchio took third place in the event with an 8.15. Arel tied for first place on the event, scoring 8.8 for her three twisting tumbling passes and difficult dance moves.

Arel won the meet with a 34.90, edging out Salem's Jill Russell, who scored 34.6. Rocchio's overall score of 30.1 earned her fourth place overall in the meet.

Strong against Bridgewater

Leabourne again showed her good form on the uneven bars, and for her cleanly executed routine she was awarded a 7.8. Arnold's two free-hip to handstands on the high bar earned her a 7.65 and second place on the event despite a fall. Arel took her usual place at the top of the event, winning with an 8.75 for her consistently beautiful bar routine.

MIT had the best performance of its season on the balance beam. Aqui and Leabourne performed difficult dance combinations, both scoring 7.05. McCarthy had the best routine of her season, sticking her back handspring and round-off tumbling passes for a 7.55. Arel, Rocchio, and Arnold finished first, second and third on the event with their difficult acrobatics and their competitive expertise, scoring 8.75, 8.25, and 8.15.

The floor exercise showed more of the same competitive spirit. Arel won the event with an 8.75, while Leabourne took second with an 8.2. The determined tumbling of Rocchio and Arnold earned them scores of 7.9 and 7.8, and McCarthy's high back somersaults took a 7.45.

Arel won the meet with another 34.9. Arnold took second with her strong all-around score of 31.80. Rocchio and Leabourne were close behind with their overall scores of 31.45 and 31.30.

The Engineers meet Salem State again on Wednesday night before competing in the New England Championships on Friday at Rhode Island College. A victory in Wednesday night's meet will give the team a perfect 5-0 season -- which would mean that MIT would have a great chance of claiming the New England Division III title.

(Catherine Rocchio '89 is an assistant coach of the women's gymnastics team.)