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Chiarenza Sets MIT Record in Gymnastics

By Catherine Rocchio
Team Coach

The women's gymnastics team began the new year with two meets against the powerhouse Division I and II teams of Yale University and Springfield College. The team showed off the impressive talents of newcomer Tasi Chiarenza '97 and returning national contender Janet Sollod '96 with record-breaking and personal best performances.

Despite excellent performances, the team lost to Springfield, by a score of 180.8 to 154.8. Yale also won its meet, 181.15 to 146.525.

Uneven bars showcased the first record-breaking performance of the season. Chiarenza, with her full-twisting giant swing, signature toe-on to handstand, and front somersaulting dismount, scored 9.2 and shattered the four year old MIT record of 9.0 set in 1990 by Lisa Arel '92. Sollod also had an excellent bar routine, landing her somersaulting dismount for a personal best score of 8.5.

Balance beam was very shaky for the MIT squad with nervous shakes and many falls. Co-Captain Beth Chen '94 led the team with only one fall and a score of 7.55, while Sollod and Chiarenza both displayed impressive acrobatic skills but suffered falls for scores of 7.3 and 7.4.

While the beam was rough, MIT finished up strongly on the floor exercise where Kimberly S. Cornwell '94, Shaw, and Erica N. Carmel '96 all had clean routines for scores of 7.4, 7.2 and 7.3. Co-Captain Stephanie DeWeese '95 earned a 7.55 for her graceful leaps.

Sollod and Chiarenza rounded out the squad with full-twisting tumbling for scores of 8.15 and 8.8. Overall, Chiarenza and Sollod took second and third place all-around with their totals of 33.9 and 32.55.

At Yale, the meet began on the uneven bars. Carmel had one of her most impressive performances, catching a flying straddle-back over the low bar for a score of 6.6 despite a few breaks; Sollod sat down her dismount for a score of 7.6. Chiarenza managed to repeat an excellent bar performance slighted only by a few extra steps on her dismount and earned an 8.8.

Carmel and Cornwell again performed clean handspring vaults for scores of 7.4 and 7.15, and Sollod stuck her best handspring full-twist ever for her highest score of 8.65. Chiarenza performed a much more difficult vault -- a handspring double front, for which she received a score of 8.875 despite sitting down both attempts.

Floor exercises were even better than the week's earlier performance. Cornwell and Shaw performed precisely and energetically for scores of 7.05 and 7.45, and Carmel, despite a fall on a front somersault in her second tumbling pass, was clean and precise and earned a 7.25.

DeWeese danced her most graceful routine ever and tumbled powerfully for her highest score ever of 8.3. Sollod had a few problems with a tumbling series but still scored 8.45. Chiarenza rounded the event off with the highest floor score for MIT thus far this season of 9.05 for her full-twisting tumbling and energetic style.

Balance Beam was a different story for this team as the season's first no falls routines were turned in by Chen, who scored a 7.95 for her high leaps and jumps and Sollod, who had the best routine and highest score of her career, earning an 8.6 for a solid performance. All-around scores racked up by Chiarenza and Sollod were 33.525 and 33.3.