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Women's Gymnasts to Go to Nationals

By Catherine Rocchio
assistant coach

The Women's Gymnastics team finished up its regular competitive season this month with a home tri-meet Feb. 10 against Ithaca and Wilson Colleges and the Eastern Collegiate Championships Feb. 18 at Rhode Island College.

Ithaca College narrowly won the tri-meet a week earlier with a score of 173.625 to MIT's 168.375 and Wilson's 57.05, while Rhode Island College took the ECAC Team Championships with a score of 179.175. MIT took fifth place overall in the championships with a score of 169.9.

The ECAC took its toll on MIT as its hopes for a berth at the National Championships as a team were dashed.

But defending 1995 All-Around National Champion Sheila Rocchio '97, Janet Sollod '96, Co-Captain Tasi Chiarenza '97, and Alli Christenson '98 all qualified individually to participate in the Nationals to be held at Ithaca College on Friday and Saturday.

MITfares well at ECAC

Pulling out all of the stops, individuals performed their most difficult acrobatic skills and in some cases performed these for the first time this year in competition at the Championships.

MIT's first event was vaulting, where Sandy Dow '96 and Valentina Sequi '97 earned scores of 7.2 and 8.1. Christenson's stuck her handspring full-twist perfectly for a score of 8.7 while Chiarenza vaulted her handspring front-somersault vault for the first time in two years since a serious knee injury and earned an 8.40.

Rocchio narrowly under-rotated a perfect landing and took steps backwards but still scored an 8.85 while Sollod's front-front vault was top for MIT and took sixth place in the meet overall with her personal best score of 8.95.

Uneven bars showcased Dow and Erica Carmel '96, who had personal best bar routines for scores of 7.0 and 7.35. Christenson was a bit short on her double back flyaway while Rocchio was just over on her one-and-a-half front somersault as they scored 8.525 and 8.4, respectively. Chiarenza swung a beautiful giant full pirouette into a half-twist turning uprise but sat down her dismount for a score of 8.65.

Strong performances by Carmel, Christenson, and Sollod helped the Engineers rally to turn in their season's highest team score of 169.9 - only a few points below their team record score.

Ithaca takes close win

The tri-meet against Ithaca and Wilson Colleges began on vaulting, where Dow and Chiarenza performed handspring vaults for scores of 7.3 and 8.1 while Sequi stuck her half on 1/1 twist off for a 7.8.

The team's performance on the uneven bars was the best of the season as each performer nailed their routines and stuck their dismounts. Christenson stood up her double-back flyaway for a score of 8.45 while Sollod tied her personal best score of 8.5 on the event for a stuck toe-on-front.

Floor exercise kept the team's momentum going as newcomer Stacy Pruitt '99 competed for the first time for the engineers for a score of 8.05 while Dow executed powerful tumbling for an 8.4.

Rocchio landed a huge double back for a score of 9.25 while Sollod's full-twisting tumbling and flexible dance earned her a 9.1.

Rocchio won the meet overall with a total of 35.4. The team's three other all-around gymnasts also turned in solid scores as Christenson earned a 34.35, Sollod a 34.3, and Chiarenza a 33.475.