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Women’s Gymnastics Sixth at Regionals

By Eduardo Ovalle

TEAM COACH

The MIT Women’s Gymnastics team placed sixth out of eight schools at the ECAC/East Regional Championships last Saturday. SUNY-Cortland won the meet with a score of 185.325, versus MIT’s score of 177.900.

The meet had all of the makings of a shootout, with the top four teams competing for the ECAC/Regional title. The top-ranked teams heading into the competition were Ithaca College, SUNY-Cortland, Ursinus College, and Springfield College, but SUNY-Cortland took the title on the strength of their amazing beam team who captured the crown. Their 47.70 score on beam was the highest score of any event at the meet.

Team breaks vault record

The Lady Engineers began the meet on floor with a few stumbles. The cleanest routines were turned in by Tanya I. Burka ’03 and Lindsey L. Wolf ’03 to lead off the meet. The rest of the floor line-up seemed a little bit tight and it showed in their dance and their tumbling. No major mistakes were counted on floor, but the team had to settle for a 44.975.

However, the team record for vault was broken again as a 45.525 total was tallied up with some great vaults. Marybeth C. Garceau ’03 led off with a clean one half on full off for an 8.65. Cecile E. LeCocq ’02 buckled on her landing and touched down her handspring full, but that was the only team mistake. After not vaulting most of the year with a badly sprained ankle, Cindy Chung ’04 performed one of the best handspring front pike vaults of her career at MIT for a 9.15.

That vault was followed by Whitney E. Watson’s ’05 first attempt ever in competition for a pike tsukahara. Her great vault received a 9.05 from the judges. Her fellow classmates Merritt S. Tam ’05 and Ashley R. Rothenberg ’05 then proceeded to launch a couple of handspring front tucks which they landed high and with one small step for a 9.375 and a 9.30, respectively.

MIT falters on bars

The team tried to carry that momentum into bars after another bye followed vault, but they weren’t very successful. Burka had to omit a “C” value element from her routine which cost her 0.6 points. Watson struggled through her routine, and co-captain Amy M. Shui ’02 almost completely missed one of her hands in her release move, but managed to hang in there. However, her score suffered.

Garceau missed her mount completely and had to take a 0.5 point automatic deduction. Tam turned in a great bar routine for a 9.15 which placed her fourth overall on the event, and Rothenberg finished with a decent routine which garnered an 8.975 and in the end, a qualifying spot for her to move on to Nationals as a bar specialist.

On beam, Chung led off with her patented side-somi mount which carried her off the beam. Rothenberg landed her front-somi mount, but missed another “D” skill. Garceau landed her “D” gainer layout, but it was a different “D” skill and the dreaded full turn requirement that did her in. Shui was finally the one who stepped up and put an end to the falls off beam. In her final meet as a senior she turned in a strong 9.0 performance.

Watson then made up for her lost opportunity on the floor exercise, putting together a season-high 9.325 and earning a spot in Nationals. Tam finished off the meet with another solid performance on beam which netted a 9.55 and a fourth place overall on the event as well. Her 37.475 all-around score was the highest this season for her, and it earned her a second place finish at this meet and the team’s top overall all-around qualifier to the National Championships.

MIT heads to UMass tomorrow. After that, Rothenberg, Watson, and Tam will all move on to Nationals at Ithaca College on March 22 to 23.