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Women's Gymnasts Fall in Connecticut

Catherine Rocchio
Assistant Women's Gymnastics Coach

The Women's Gymnastics team travelled to Bridgeport, Connecticut, to face two formidable opponents, the four-time defending ECAC Division II Champion University of Bridgeport and the top-ranked Division III School, Springfield College. Bridgeport took top honors in the meet, scoring a 181.35 to Springfield's 178.85 and MIT's 167.15.

Despite MIT's loss in the team competition, the meet showcased the high-level routines and strong individual performances that continue to make the team a contender for a berth at the National Championships in March.

Alli Christensen '98 was the top scorer overall for the Engineers as she totalled up her career highest all-around score of 35.05, with Co-Captain Janet Sollod '96 close behind at 34.50. Both Sheila Rocchio '97 and Co-Captain Tasi Chiarenza '97 also turned in good National qualifying totals at 34.15 and 31.45, despite four falls apiece.

Vault opens meet

The meet began with the vault, where Erica Carmel '96 earned a personal best score of 7.7 for a handspring vault, and Chiarenza scored 8.0 on her stuck landing of the same vault. Valentina Sequi '97 and Christensen both executed full-twisting versions of their teammates' vaults and scored 8.25 and 8.6 respectively.

Sollod performed a front handspring one-and-a-half rotating front somersault vault for the first time - a skill she has been training for four years - and only slightly under-rotated the landing for an 8.1. Rocchio had a surer landing on the same vault and scored an 8.65.

Team does well on uneven bars

Uneven bars quickly became exciting for the Engineers, as Sollod had her personal best bar score of 8.45 for landing a toe-on-front dismount while Christensen only slightly touched her hands down on a double back flyaway for a score of 8.6.

Rocchio and Chiarenza suffered falls on their routines and scored only 7.95 and 7.85, but Carmel and newcomer Sabra Kelin '98 both swung well on their routines and helped refocus the team's energy as they looked to the next event, the floor exercise.

Kelin and Sequi, displaying back somersaults and clean dance, set the stage for the rest of the team as they scored a 7.4 and a 7.65 while Marnie Bell '99 earned an 8.25 for a routine that included a back layout and a back somersault tumbling pass. Chiarenza had her season's top score of 8.4 as she phased in more difficult tumbling after knee surgery earlier this season while Sollod gracefully danced and tumbled her way to a score of 9.05 for an inspired routine. For the final act, Rocchio rocked the floor with her powerful double back somersault and season's best score of 9.45.

Ending a meet on the balance beam is always a difficult task, as proved to be the case during this meet. Chiarenza, Sequi, and Rocchio each failed to stick their routine as the pressures of the day took their toll. Despite this setback, the Engineers otherwise had their best beam set of the season as Carmel and Bell successfully nailed their routines on the beam for scores of 7.6 and 8.1.

Sollod had her season's top score in the event of 8.85 for a solid routine. Christensen was completely unwavering during her round-off back-handspring flight series, back extension roll, and round-off full-twist dismount as she earned a personal best score of 9.1.