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Gymnasts Earn First Victory

By Catherine Rocchio Garrett
Women's Gymnastics Coach

The women's gymnastics team has just completed the toughest stretch of its season after travelling all over New England to compete in 4 competitions over a period of only eight days.

Two weekends ago, the team travelled to New Haven, Conn. twice where it first met Southern Connecticut State University in tough competition. SCSU won the meet with a team score of 180.0 to MIT's 167.625.

Two days later the team travelled to meet University of Bridgeport where MIT scored 164.55 to UB's 182.625. Midweek, the team went to Brown for a tri-meet that included Division III rival Rhode Island College. There, the women picked up their first team victory in 4 years, beating RIC's team score of 162.9 with a scored 167.75 which come short of Division I ranked Brown University by only .125 point.

Finally, last weekend, the team competed in a tri-meet against Northeastern University and host University of Vermont. At the meet, MIT tied its own team record of 170.525. UVM and Northeastern finished ahead with score of 177.775, and 179.375, respectively.

Sheila Rocchio '97 led the MIT team in the all-around score at the meet against SCSU with a score of 34.80. The result included a third place finish on the balance beam, and score of 9.15 for a routine that included a back handspring back-layout flight series. Rocchio also stuck her double back somersault on the floor exercise for a score of 9.075. Also turning in outstanding performances were Alli Christenson '98 and captain Janet Sollod '96. Christenson scored 34.425 while Sollod totaled 33.6.

Sollod stuck a beautiful beam routine and earned an 8.8 while Christenson turned in a pair of 8.7's for her balance beam routine and floor exercise. Christenson debuted a double-twist in her floor exercise and is the only MIT athlete to perform this skill.

Another freshman, Michelle Miles '98 had a good meet with an all-around total of 33.55 where her strongest performance was on the balance beam as she scored an 8.75.

Two days later, the MIT women were back again in southern Connecticut to square off against University of Bridgeport. Christenson was the top athlete of the day for the Engineers as she had her season's highest all-around (34.725) that showcased a solid full-twisting vault for an 8.75 and a near perfect balance beam set for an 8.85.

Rocchio nailed her double back on the floor exercise with a score of 9.05 and swung a nice bar routine that earned an 8.55 for an overall total of 34.175. Sollod, meanwhile, contributed an 8.85 for her stylish and graceful floor exercise, and an 8.725 for her handspring full-twist vault, to earn a total of 33.425 in the all-around. Tasi Chiarenza 97 was MIT's bar queen as her trademark toe-on-handstand led off a clean swinging set for a score of 8.7.

Close to defeating Brown

Determined to chalk up their first win of the season, the MIT women came minutely close to toppling Division I Brown, alongside of Division III rival Rhode Island College. Sandy Dow '96 and Erica Carmel '96 led off with handspring vaults that earned respective scores of 7.90 and 7.4. Miles, Christenson, and Sollod vaulted with excellent form as usual for scores of 8.6, 8.65, and 8.675.

Rocchio was tops for the evening as she broke the MIT vaulting record of 9.05 earning a 9.15 for aggressively landing her front handspring 1 1/2 somersaulting vault.

Rocchio earned first place overall on the vaulting event. Chiarenza once again turned in a beautiful uneven bars performance for a score of 8.7 that earned second place overall on the event. Rocchio took first overall on yet another event, the balance beam, despite a fall on a back-layout, with a score of 8.70.

Sollod earned a 9.05 for her floor exercise routine and took second place overall. Christenson and Miles were close behind with scores of 8.9 and 8.85, respectively. Overall, Rocchio and Christenson took second and third place with their all-around scores of 34.725 and 34.25.

Burlington, Vt. was the site of MIT's strongest performances yet this season. Matched up against two top-ranked Division I teams, MIT made a strong impression on spectators and athletes alike.

Vaulting was an excellent beginning for the meet as Rocchio again landed her front handspring 1 1/2 somersaulting vault. She proceeded to not only win first place overall on the event, but also to break her own Institute record by .225, with her score of 9.375.

Chiarenza had her best bar set of the season as she earned an 8.85. Rocchio, Christenson, and Sollod were strongest for the team on the balance beam with scores of 8.875, 8.85, and 8.425, respectively, for "no falls" routines.

Floor exercise highlighted the talents once again of the team's four top all-arounds despite Rocchio over-rotating her double-back somersault. Rocchio scored 8.75 to Sollod's 8.9, Christenson's 8.75, and Miles' 8.45.

Rocchio was named as Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference Gymnast of the Week for her excellent performances on vaulting.