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Women Gymnasts Compete in 3 Meets

By Karen Ovalle

The women's gymnastics team, after three weeks off for finals and vacation, came back to compete in three meets over eight days. Despite strong performances, the team lost the first two meets. However, the gymnasts placed second in the final meet, a tough competition at home against three other schools.

The first meet was Jan. 10 against the University of Bridgeport, Conn., a Division IIteam, and the newly reinstated Division I program at Northeastern University.

As expected, Northeastern won the meet with a score of 171.10 followed closely by Bridgeport (170.75) and MIT (164.75). MIT was hindered by the absence of two of last year's consistent performers. Nevertheless the team on the floor, led by Sonja Ellefson '01, performed very well for a first meet.

"In my eyes, we won the meet," said coach Eduardo Ovalle. "I often tell my team that whoever wins beam wins the meet, and although the total score was not in our favor, we did win beam as an event against a Division II and a Division I school [MIT 43.6, UB 42.35, NU 42.10] so I am very pleased with our performance."

Ellefson broke the MIT record on beam with a 9.35 in her first ever meet at the Institute (previous record: 9.3). Her beam score, as well as her vault (9.1) and all-around (36.15) were personal bests. Ellefson was top scorer in the entire meet for beam, floor exercise (9.25), and the all-around.

Other notable performances came from co-captain Alli Christenson '98 on vault, who scored a personal best 9.0, and Nann Kronschnabel '00, who stuck a brand new beam routine with a personal best 9.0 as well.

Many of the returning gymnasts unveiled new routines because of the changes in the code of points that gets revised every four years. This year's code is much tougher than the past, and scores are expected to be lower than last season's record-breaking year.

Mediocre showing at Springfield

On Jan. 13, the gymnasts traveled to Springfield to take on the Springfield College Pride and the Yale University Bulldogs. Everyone except for Marnie Bell '99 was shaky on the beam, likely due to the closeness of the previous meet. Bell hit her routine for a solid 8.55 performance.

All three teams struggled, as it was Springfield's and Yale's first meet of the year, but in the end, it was Yale that came out on top with a 175.375 followed by Springfield (167.525) and MIT (161.225). Springfield is one of MIT's main adversaries when it comes down to qualifying for the Division III National Championships. It's not quite as important what happens in the beginning of the year as what happens towards the end, and MIT will get another chance at Springfield during the conference championships in late February.

MIT has never beaten Springfield the national champions two years ago, and even though the team counted many falls, it was encouraging to know that they could be within range of beating Springfield once they clean up their routines.

There were some other encouraging developments as five out of the six competitors improved their bars score from the prior meet. Kronschnabel threw her first ever front handspring front somersault on vault in competition and Ellefson unveiled her double back somersault on floor exercise.

MIT takes second in latest meet

In their third competition of the new year, the women bounced back from their mediocre performance in the previous meet to take second place in a four-team meet at home last Saturday.

Winning the meet was Southern Connecticut State University with a score of 179.5 followed by the Engineers (167.625), who recorded their first two wins of the year over Division III rivals University of Wisconsin at Whitewater (163.30) and Wilson College (124.60).

Ellefson, the top performer for the Engineers, scored a 9.0 or better in each of the four events for an all-around mark of 36.25. Her all-around score was good enough for second place in the meet. Co-captain Rachel Van Buren '98 also turned in a solid performance in the all-around (32.30).

The gymnasts' performance on their weakest event, the uneven parallel bars, improved greatly from the first meet of the year, as all six members of the bar line-up increased their scores by 0.6 or more. Saturday's bar total (38.30) was over 4.5 points greater than the previous Saturday's (33.75).

For the second home meet in a row, over 200 people filled the stands of DuPont Gymnasium to watch the gymnasts compete. The next home meet will be on the first day of classes, Feb. 3, against Gustavus Adolphus College and Northeastern.