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Women's Gymnastics Sets New Record Three Times

By Catherine Garrett
team Coach

The women's gymnastics team opened its 1994-95 season with three record-breaking competitions in a row.

At the season opener meet on Dec. 3 against Division III rival Rhode Island College, host team MIT's score of 166.05 to RIC's 166.35 set a new team record that broke the previous record by over 3 points.

The first two meets in 1995 have continued along this trend as MIT hosted Springfield College on Jan. 11 and scored 170.2 to SC's 172.875, breaking the team record set only a month before.

The team's first away meet on Jan. 14 was a tri-meet against host team Yale University along with Brown University. The women eked out yet another record-breaking team score there totaling 170.525 to Brown's 174.3 and Yale's 180.5.

The strength that two new members, Michelle Miles '98 and Alli Christenson '98, have added to the team was evident at the first meet against RIC where Miles and Christenson both performed full-twisting vaults for respective scores of 8.4 and 8.55.

Team Captain Janet Sollod '96 also landed a handspring full-twist for an 8.55 while Valentina Sequi '97 lent her support to the squad scoring a 7.85 with her 1/2 on full-twist off.

Returning All-American Tasi Chiarenza '97 made her return to competition, after reconstructive surgery on her knee last spring. She did so in grand style, scoring an 8.75 for her giant full-twisting pirouette and stalder handstand to take first place overall in the event. Christensen also had a solid routine, earning an 8.2 for a routine that finished with a layout full-twisting dismount, and third place overall in the event.

The balance beam competition proved to be the Engineers' strongest event, despite a few falls among the squad. Christenson and Sollod both shone with their aggressive leaps, jumps, and acrobatic skills for respective scores of 8.4 and 8.65 while Miles and returning All-American Sheila Rocchio '97 were the team's top performers on the event with scores of 8.75 and 8.7, respectively.

The floor exercise provided an exciting conclusion to the meet as MIT closed the gap between themselves and RIC. Sandy Dow '96 debuted her floor exercise with a back layout in her first tumbling run for a score of 8.4 while Miles, Christenson, and Sollod all had full-twisting layouts in their last tumbling run and beautiful yet distinctive dance styles for scores of 8.55, 8.5 and 8.95, respectively.

Rocchio had a fantastic performance during which she nailed her double back somersault in her first pass and broke the MIT floor record (which she had set herself during last year's season) with a score of 9.5, the highest score an MIT gymnast has ever received in competition.

Meet with Springfield

The team kicked off the new year by keeping gymnastics powerhouse Springfield College "on its toes." Sollod and Miles again had solid twisting vaults for scores of 8.35 and 8.45, while Christenson took second place on the event with an 8.8, behind teammate Rocchio's first place score of 8.85 for a front handsping front somersault vault.

Miles led the Engineers on the bars with a score of 8.45 for a routine that included a 1-1/2 somersaulting dismount, while Chiarenza was right behind her as she earned an 8.4, despite a fall on a new dismount.

Rocchio and Christenson rounded out the top performances in the event with their scores of 8.35 and 8.2, respectively.

Balance beam was again a strong event for the Engineers as Erica Carmel '96 and Miles led off with their routines for scores of 7.1 and 8.05, despite a fall each, while Chiarenze added her expertise to the squad with her 8.25. Sollod and Christenson each earned an 8.75 while Rocchio stuck her back handspring back-layout flight series to lead the team with a score of 9.1 and second place overall in the event.

The floor exercise highlighted yet another solid performance by Dow, who earned an 8.0 for her routine while Miles and Christenson each improved their scores for respective marks of 8.65 and 8.75. Sollod's graceful dance to classical music, contrasted with strong acrobatic tumbling, earned her a 9.0. Rocchio was again the top performer of the meet, as she landed another powerful double back somersault for a score of 9.3.

Rocchio, Christenson, and Sollod were 1-2-3 in the all-around placings with their total scores of 35.6, 34,5, and 33.8, respectively.

Gymnasts maintain momentum

Up against the two Division I teams of Yale and Brown, the Engineers did not lose momentum.

Stephanie Shaw '95 and Dow led off the meet with solid handsprings on the vault, earning 7.35 and 7.85, respectively. Miles and Sollod added scores of 8.6 and 8.65 for their performances that featured full-twists. Christenson and Rocchio were the top vaulters for MIT earning 8.75 and 8.9, despite a low landing for Rocchio.

The uneven bars showcased the skills of MIT's top four all-arounders as Miles, Sollod, Christenson, and Rocchio each performed well despite a few problems with 1-1/2 somersaulting dismounts for scores of 8.25, 8.35, 8.4, and 8.45, respectively.

On the balance beam , Chiarenza had a nice beam routine despite a fall on a twisting jump, for a score of 8.0. Miles, Sollod, and Rocchio had excellent routines for scores of 8.7, 8.8, and 8.85, respectively. Christenson nailed her roundoff-back handspring flight series and stuck her best routine of the season for the team's top score of 8.95.

Shaw and Dow's floor exercise scores of 7.2 and 8.05 led off the Engineer's final event of the competition. Miles and Christenson added their top scores of 8.575 and 8.75 to the team total. Sollod and Rocchio were again the top two for MIT as Sollod earned and 8.8 and Rocchio scored a 9.2.

Overall, Sollod had her best ever all-around total of 34.6 while Rocchio's 35.4, Christenson's 34.85, and Miles' 34.125 helped MIT to its third consecutive record-breaking team total.