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Women’s Gymnastics Places Third Against Div. I UMass, Div. II University of Alaska

Seniors Lead Lady Engineers to Finish Within Four Points of Div. I Rival UMass

By Eduardo Ovalle

TEAM COACH

MIT’s Women’s Gymnastics team placed third against two strong opponents on Feb. 19, finishing just behind local Division I opponent University of Massachusetts 175.175-178.45. The University of Alaska, a Division II school, won the meet with a 183.6.

Tuesday was the last home meet of the season for the Engineers, and they entered the competition aiming to break the team record after scoring within six tenths on the previous two meets. This was the final home meet for the team’s two seniors, and the team continued the MIT tradition of giving seniors the privilege competing last on each event.

Seniors Amy M. Shui and Cecile E. LeCocq anchored the vault lineup. Shui posted her best home score of the season with an 8.625 and LeCocq scored a career-best 8.65 on a handspring full that she started using for the first time this year. MIT had a strong start to the meet as everyone in the lineup scored better than an 8.6, the first time that has happened in school history.

As a team, MIT scored a 43.575 on vault while UMass suffered several falls on the bars to finish with a disastrous 41.75. UMass is considered the top team in the state, averaging 47.185 on the bars coming into the meet. However, the team has suffered some injuries this year, scores of 7.55, 7.75, 8.2, 8.2, 8.45 and 9.15 reflected this.

MIT consistently strong on bars

On the second rotation, MIT beat UMass’ bars score by a full point with a 42.75. Again, for the first time in school history, the entire bars line-up scored better than an 8.0 with the lowest score being an 8.1. In the meantime, Alaska got started with a 44.325 on vault. Overall none of the three teams’ best vaulters performed well on this night.

UMass won vault on the third rotation with a 45.425 but their high vault was a tuck tuck for a 9.225. Alaska did what UMass could not by catching their high-flying release skills on bars and posting a team total of 46.1 to walk away with that event. At the half-way mark, it was Alaska 90.425, UMass 87.175 and MIT 86.325.

Alaska dominates beam

For the fourth rotation, MIT moved to beam and Alaska to the floor exercise while UMass sat on a bye. The engineers competed in reverse order with Merritt S. Tam ’05 leading the way. Tam had a major wobble after her handspring layout series but fought hard through her set to garner a 9.375. The first routine pretty much told the story of the day for beam. None of the competitors were on, but none of them gave up and fought hard for every skill. Shui anchored the beam line-up with a season high 9.2 and helped the team to a 44.65 counting two falls. Alaska’s Mandi Burdick gained a meet high 9.65 on floor exercise in helping her team to a 45.7 total on that event.

UMass then moved to floor and Alaska to beam for the fifth rotation. Again, UMass looked uninspired and unmotivated on floor, coming up with a 45.1 team total. A high of 9.4 was turned in by Megan Donoghue, but nobody else scored higher than a 9.1.

Alaska, in the meantime, was putting on a clinic on beam. Rachel Glover performed a perfect double toe turn and received a 9.65 for a very good routine. As a team, Alaska hit for a 47.475, their highest event total of the night.

UMass clinches second

On the last rotation, MIT took to the floor while UMass finished on beam. Some of UMass gymnasts redeemed themselves on beam with a 9.525 coming from Nicole Groccia and a 9.675 from Megan Donoghue. UMass finished with a 46.175 beam set.

MIT in the meantime was showing signs of weariness on the floor exercise. It was 9:15 pm by the time they took to the floor and tumbling was low and the dance was short of rotation or proper position. The team looked flat out tired, but also determined to make it through the best they could. Counting two falls, the Engineers finished with a 44.2 on floor.

Team aims for nationals

There are two regular season meets left prior to the ECAC/Regional Championships. The team will need two solid scores around 179 to put themselves in a position to compete for a spot at the national meet. The top four teams coming out of the regionals will qualify for the championships hosted by Ithaca College on March 22 and 23.

MIT will need to put together three solid meets in a row in order to have a chance including the ECAC/Regional Championship in which they will have to beat Springfield College and SUNY-Brockport.