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Women Tumble to Brown In Close Gymnastics Meet

By Catherine Rocchio
Team Coach

The women's gymnastics team suffered a disappointing loss to Brown University this past Saturday in one of the closest meets of the season. BU won the meet with a score of 160.3 to MIT's 151.2.

Vaulting displayed the best efforts of the season for the MIT women as Kim Cornwell '94 and Erica Carmel '96 both stuck clean handspring vaults for scores of 7.1 and 7.35, respectively. Valentina Sequi '97 landed a half-twist on, half-twist off for a 7.65, while Janet Sollod '96 displayed excellent form on her handspring full-twist. Sheila Rocchio '97 and Tasi Chiarenza '97 both had the most difficult vaults of the meet -- handspring double fronts that just missed solid landings for respective scores of 8.65 and 8.7. Chiarenza won the even with Rocchio just behind her in second place and their efforts left MIT only 0.2 behind Brown.

Uneven bars was the Engineers' weakest event, despite the clean routines of Co-captains Stephanie DeWeese '95 and Beth Chen '94. Sequi performed a clean straddle over mount while Carmel swung a high flying straddle back over the low bar. Sollod and Rocchio both had decent routines but suffered a few breaks and struggled with their one-and-a-half somersault dismount landings for scores of 7.45 and 7.35, respectively. Chiarenza, the current MIT record holder on uneven bars, did not compete due to a slowly recovering hand injury.

The team rallied on the balance beam with the season's best overall team performance. DeWeese and Carmel both had solid performances with only one major break and scored 6.65 and 6.3, respectively, while Chen had another gorgeous "no falls" routine for a score of 7.45. Sollod missed a difficult switch-leap combination but landed her backhandsprings and straddle jumps perfectly, displaying dazzling flexibility for a score of 8.2.

Chiarenza too suffered one fall on a three-quarter twisting straddle jump, but excelled with two backhandsprings and a crowd-pleasing, aggressively-landed back tuck and received an 8.4 for her routine. Rocchio had the top routine of the afternoon as she displayed strength and flexibility with a press handstand to planche mount, solidly landed a backhandspring back-layout flight series, and finished with a roundoff-full twisting back layout for the highest MIT beam score of the season and first place on the event with a 9.1. MIT beat BU on the balance beam by 0.6 and headed into the last event with only a few points separating the overall totals.

Floor exercise began with the jazzy dance and energy of Cornwell and strong tumbling of Carmel as they led off with scores of 6.3 and 7.2. DeWeese had her prettiest floor routine of the season, and a sky high back layout in her first tumbling run and received a score of 7.6.

Sollod was supercharged, as both tumbling and dance appeared to be flawless with a full-twisting layout in the first pass and difficult leaps and turns interspersed throughout the routine for which she received a 9.15, the top score thus far in her career.

Rocchio, building on the team's enthusiasm, landed a rocketing double back in her first tumbling run and finished with a whip to a layout for the top Engineer floor score of the season, 9.25, and first place overall on the event. Disaster unfortunately struck as Chiarenza, after completing a beautiful full-twisting layout front somersault into a back tuck, suffered a knee injury and could not complete her routine.

Overall, Rocchio and Sollod's all-around scores of 34.35 and 33.1 earned them second and third place in the all-around rankings. The Engineers host Division III rivals Rhode Island College tomorrow in Du Pont Gymnasium at 1:00 p.m. and the top Division I team from Northeastern next Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. in Du Pont. While Chiarenza's injury may put the Engineers in a rough position to win the meets as a team, they still expcect to have performances at the top of each event.