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Rocchio Breaks Several Personal Records

By Catherine Rocchio
Women's Coach

The women's gymnastics team has been busy for the past two weekends wrapping up its 1994 season with the two closest dual meets this year. This past Saturday, MIT hosted Division I Northeastern University and lost in another close meet that ended, 151.95-162.5. On Feb. 19, MIT came close to catching Division III rival team Rhode Island College with a team score of 149.95 to RIC's 161.9.

During the meet against Northeastern, the team members were determined to better their individual performances, and they were amazingly successful. Sheila Rocchio '97 broke several personal records, as well as MIT. However, in both meets, the team felt the absence of one of the leading scorers, Tasi Chiarenza '97, who injured her knee during a previous competition and was not able to perform.

On the vault, the judges awarded Kim Cornwell '94 and Erica Carmel '96 scores of 7.15 and 7.2 for the post flight distance of their handspring vaults. Valentina Sequi '97 was tighter and twisted faster in her 1/2 on, 1/2 off and earned a 7.55. Rocchio had a rough afternoon with her double front vault and earned an 8.1, while Janet Sollod '96 popped higher off the horse before completing her full-twist and scored an 8.4 earning first place overall on the event.

Co-captain Beth Chen '94 performed the cleanest and smoothest bar routine of her career as she scored a 6.55, while Carmel and Rocchio suffered a few falls each for scores of 6.45 and 7.0. Sollod had the potential for an excellent routine until her grip slipped off the bar and caused a break in her routine for a score of 7.5 and third place on the event.

After the shaky performances on bars, the Engineers were determined to gain back some ground on the balance beam. Stephanie Shaw '95 set the tone for the team as she landed her first "no falls" routine with a back walkover, switch leg leap, and beautiful extension and dance for a score of 6.1. Co-captain Stephanie DeWeese '95 turned aggressive and the height of her jumps and leaps impressed the judges as she scored a 6.55 despite three falls.

Carmel turned in her best performance of the season landing a back-walkover, a round-off, a switch-leg leap and a cartwheel back-somersault dismount for a score of 7.3. Chen turned in the routine of her life with not one single waver or step off balance as she landed two astounding straddle jumps, a 3/4 twist, a ring leap, and two beautiful and difficult pike jumps for her personal best score of 8.6.

Sollod, despite missing her first 1/4 twisting straddle jump, displayed poise and concentration as she stuck her switch-leap, back handspring, back extension immediate stag jump, and full-twist combinations for a score of 8.65. Rocchio, after a rough first half of the meet, pulled out all the stops in her beam as she stuck one difficult skill after the other -- a back handspring layout, a switch-side leap, two straddle jumps in a row, a back-handspring straddle jump, and a round-off to a full-twisting layout dismount for a score of 9.2 -- and a tie of the MIT record.

With the energy level high after such a great showing on balance beam, MIT kept the momentum going on the floor exercise. Shaw and Cornwell showed off artistic style with their dance and clean tumbling for respective scores of 7.1 and 7.2, while DeWeese's layout in her first tumbling pass was clean and tight for a score of 8.1. Sollod was almost perfect as she touched her hands to the floor after the front somi of her acro-gymnastic combination but never broke form on her full-twisting layout and was awarded an 8.75. Rocchio ended the meet with another history making routine as she landed her double back somersault in her first pass to the tumultous cheers of teammates and crowd for the new MIT floor exercise record score of 9.45.

Rocchio and Sollod were 1-2 overall in the meet with total scores of 33.75 and 33.3. This meet puts them in the perfect position to take top honors during next weekend's Eastern Collegiate Atheletic Conference Division III Gymnastics Championships in Du Pont Gymnasium at 1:00 p.m. There, Rocchio, Sollod, and their teammates attempt their best performances against all their Division III rival schools of Rhode Island College, SUNY Brockport, SUNY Cortland, Ithaca College, and Ursinus College.

MIT competes against RIC

During the meet against RIC, MIT women vaulters started out strongly with Shaw, Cornwell, and Carmel all performing solid handspring vaults for scores of 7.3, 7.1, and 7.35. Sequi followed with a beautifully stretched 1/2 twist on, 1/2 twist off for a score of 7.35, while teammate Sollod performed her full-twisting handspring with panache for a score of 8.55. Rocchio anchored the vaulting squad with her handspring double front somersault that was strong, but not quite rotated enough for a solid landing, yet earned a score of 8.65.

In the uneven bars, Rocchio had her best routine of the season and solidly landed her 1 1/2 front dismount for a score of 8.1 and first place on the event. Sollod, while still having problems with her 1 1/2 front somersaulting dismount, swung fast and high for a 7.8 and second place overall. The uneven bars showcased the talent of co-captain Chen, who performed two cut-catches to an immediated kip. Carmel performed her season's best with a swinging free-straddle back and a cut-catch between the bars, for a score of 7.05.

Balance beam was consistent for the Engineers as DeWeese had her first "no falls" routine with a beautiful full-turn and cartwheel for a score of 7.15, while Chen again displayed her steadfast style and strength for a "no falls" score of 7.95. Sollod suffered only one fall on her leap combination, full-twist to straddle jump, and back handspring, winning third place on the event with a score of 8.5. Rocchio nailed her difficult acrobatic combination of backhandspring back layout but missed a twisting jumping combination for a score of 8.65 and second place on the event.

Floor exercise again sported the strong routine of DeWeese, whose back layout and back tumbling passes displayed form and amplitude. Sollod, with her full-twisting back layout and amazing flexibility, earned an 8.55 on her performance and placed second on the event. Rocchio, displaying fast tumbling with her whip to full-twisting back layout combination, won the event with her score of 8.95.

Overall, Rocchio and Sollod placed first and third in the meet with all-around totals of 34.35 and 33.4, respectively.