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Lady Engineers Beat Vermont for First Time

By Eduardo Ovalle


After posting their lowest score of the season, and still having to work through injuries and the flu season, the Lady Engineers headed north to Burlington, Vermont for a double-dual meet alongside the men’s team against the Division I University of Vermont Catamounts. If the women could beat the Catamounts -- for their first time ever -- MIT had a shot at an unprecedented double win.

In an effort to stir things up a bit, MIT competed their first event (bars) in reverse order, by starting the meet with their best bar performer. Co-captain Sonja J. Ellefson ’01 led off the meet, and, though tired, landed her double-hull flyaway for a season-high score of 9.55.

Up next was Carrie Garceau ’03, who had not been able to practice her own double-full flyaway dismount because of a heel bruise. Garceau missed her mount but got back up on the bars and landed a perfect dismount, netting a personal season high of 8.35.

The rest of the bar line-up hit clean routines, which helped the team post a season-high bar total of 40.2.

The key performer was Tanya I. Burka ’03, who had been bothered by a bad back and was supposed to sit the meet out. An injury to Amy M. Shui ’02’s hand prompted Burka to jump in at the last minute to take Shui’s place. Without Burka’s bar score, the bar total would have only been 39.6.

While MIT finished up bars, UVM had posted a 42.9 on vault for the early lead after one rotation. The teams flip-flopped events and the Engineers welcomed the addition of senior Karla E. Maguire ’01 to their vault line-up.

Maguire’s 8.325 and Ellefson’s season-high 9.25 helped MIT to their highest vault total of the season. MIT accumulated 43.7 on vault and was leading the meet 83.9 to 83.075 after two rotations.

In the third rotation, MIT moved to floor, forced to compete with only five athletes, as Burka was forced to withdraw. Again, the Engineers amassed a season-high total for this event, with Cecile E. LeCocq ’02, Cindy Chung ’04 and Ellefson posting 9.15, 9.45, and 9.5, respectively.

While MIT posted a 45.475 on floor exercise, the Catamounts hung tough with a 45.125 beam set led by Jill Smith’s 9.15. After three rotations, MIT extended its lead to 129.375 to 128.20. Finally, it was off to beam for MIT and floor for UVM.

Chung was put in charge of leading the way. Chung’s beam routine, jam-packed with difficult maneuvers, is the best routine in the MIT line-up, but she has had trouble keeping it on the beam. Two falls left Chung at an 8.5, while UVM’s Kara Tighe danced to a 9.175 on floor.

Shui followed for MIT, but she had a slip off the beam and had to settle for an 8.9. At the same time, the second competitor for UVM received a 9.35.

Third up for MIT was Caitlin P. Dwyer-McNally ’03, who looked good throughout except for her toughest skill, which landed her on the side of the beam for an 8.35. With UVM’s Amy Mosher nailing a 9.325 on floor exercise, Vermont was now in the lead, 156.05 to MIT’s 155.125, with three competitors to go.

It was Garceau who righted the ship for MIT by absolutely nailing her beam routine; she was rewarded with a personal best of 9.4. But UVM’s Nicole Cote-Burk received a 9.45 on floor.

Fellow sophomore Deborah J. Dryer ’03 got up and attacked the beam, and looked very solid for the first half. She wobbled a bit on the second half of the routine, settling for a 9.0 to Jill Smith’s 9.125.

So, it came down to the final two competitors. MIT would have to hope for a big score from Ellefson in order to be able to drop Dwyer-McNally’s 8.35.

While UVM’s Carie Blow struggled on floor to a 9.05, Ellefson was in the process of hitting the best beam routine of her career. Ellefson landed her dismount and was rewarded with a new school record of 9.65, breaking even her own mark of 9.6, set two years earlier.

When all was said and done the Catamounts totaled 46.45 on floor to MIT’s 45.45 on beam. UVM made up a full point on the last event, but it was not enough, and MIT celebrated its first win ever over the Catamounts, 174.825 to 174.65.

The day belonged to MIT. The men beat UVM by a sound 3-point margin -- much more comfortable than the .175 separating the women’s teams.

On an individual basis, Ellefson won every event in the meet and recorded a season-high 37.95 all-around score.

This win sets a positive tone in heading into the last three meets of the season prior to the conference championships. This coming weekend, the women will travel to UMass-Amherst where they will meet extremely talented Division I teams. But MIT will have the chance to post an all-important away score in the process and hopefully unveil some new routines that are in the wings.