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Women Gymnasts Close In on Championship Berth with Wins

By Eduardo Ovalle

The women's gymnastics team has positioned themselves beautifully to earn a berth at the Division III, National Championships with two very strong performances this past week. The Nationals will be hosted by Rhode Island College the last weekend in March, and in order to qualify, MIT will have to finish in the top three Division III schools in the East region.

With their scores from last week - Wednesday at home vs. the University of Vermont and Friday night at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst - the Engineers have moved from fifth place to a solid third in the East region National Collegiate Gymnastics Association rankings

Last Wednesday, MIT (173.45) hosted their last home meet against UVM (184.225) and Northeastern University (179.675). At the meet, the MIT vaulters set a new record for that event with a 44.7, only to break it again when they travelled to UMass, Amherst two days later, where they received a 44.725. At Amherst, MIT totalled 174.40 to the host's 193.075 and the University of West Virginia's 193.075.

Ellefson broke several records

Sonja Ellefson '01 had a week to remember in which she tied or broke four out of five school records.

She began last Saturday at Yale University with a 9.5 on floor exercise (tied the record) and then broke the all-around mark of 37.1 with a 37.3 of her own on Wednesday night. On Friday night at Amherst, she broke the vault record with a 9.5, the beam record (which she already owned) with an equal 9.5, and increased her personal best and school record in the all-around with a 37.45. The only record she is missing now is the uneven bars mark of 9.55.

But Ellefson wasn't the only outstanding performer. Co-captain Alli Christenson '98 posted a personal best on vault (9.0), floor (9.25), beam (9.3) and all-around (36.025) over the course of the two meets. The rest of the competitors were not far behind either, with all of them obtaining at least one personal best score in helping push their team up the rankings to third place.

The most important meet of the year will be this weekend's Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference Championships at Ursinus College in Pennsylvania. MIT is currently ahead of Ursinus and Cortland College for that coveted third place in the East, but the ECAC competition will count as a weighted score in determining the team's final rankings and the gymnasts need to do well to stay ahead. Heading into the Friday meet, MIT was only .04 ahead of Cortland.