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Women's gymnastics take sixth at ECAC finals

By Catherine Rocchio

The MIT women's gymnastics team recently completed its competitive season at the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) championship at Cortland College in New York. MIT came in sixth in the team competition with a team score of 134.6.

After losing five seniors from last year's New England Championship team, this year's team was comprised of many first-time competitors including Jennifer Moore '94, Kim Cornwall '94, Karen Oda '93 and Sandra Tan '92, all of whom lent their skill to MIT's performance at this championship meet.

The women's first event was the vaulting exercise where the team had its strongest performance of the year. Anne Wandtke '91 and Debbie Ellingson '91 both set the tone for the event by executing the best vaults of their gymnastic careers, earning respective scores of 7.45 and 7.4, while Gretchen Martin '92 vaulted for the first time this season and earned a 7.65 for a strong handspring vault.

Oda turned in her season's best performance with an 8.05 for a perfectly landed handspring vault. Kortney Leabourne '92 executed a beautiful handspring full-twist for her season's best score of 8.65 while Julie Lyren '93 landed a powerful 1/2 on full-twist off vault for an 8.7, her season's best and the team's highest score of the day.

The uneven bars event unveiled a new bar routine for Martin whose free straddle over mount was caught solidly and led the way for Lyren and Leabourne to work cleanly on the event.

Leabourne earned the highest score on the bars for MIT with an 8.1. The balance beam gave the Engineers some momentary troubles, but Oda and Lyren both stuck to their routines with Lyren scoring MIT's highest on the event earning a 7.9 for her switch-leg leap and backhandspring combinations.

MIT rallied on the floor exercise, the last event of the competitive season for the women, and turned out one of the best performances on this exercise for the whole year.

Ellingson, Tan and Wandtke all performed their season's best with difficult acrobatic and gymnastics tricks for scores of 6.25, 6.45 and 6.85. Oda tumbled strongly with a layout in her first pass and a back somi in the second for a consistent score of 7.15 while Leabourne's energetic dance and two somi pass earned her a 7.6. Lyren had the top score of the event once again, performing her season's best routine for an 8.5.

Both Leabourne and Lyren totalled strong all-around scores for the MIT engineers, Leabourne with 31.00 and Lyren with her best overall meet of the year earned 32.00.

MIT is sending two of its gymnasts to the Division III National Championships at Gustavis Adolphus College in Minnesota this weekend. Lisa Arel '92 will be returning to the meet for the third year in a row and is joined by first-time qualifier Leabourne. The top eight individual competitors in Division III qualify for this meet.

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