Gymnastics Defeats Southern
Women Manage to Break Team Beam Record, Win Meet by 0.35
Despite competing with a host of injuries that shrank MIT’s already smaller-than-comfortable women’s gymnastics squad, the Engineers managed to edge Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU) by 0.35 points, 184.4-184.15, last Saturday in their last regular season meet. “It was our first time ever beating Southern; they’re a division two school so it’s a big thing,” said Head Coach Eduardo Ovalle.
The first rotation of the afternoon had MIT on vault and SCSU on bars. Although the Engineers had some troubles sticking landings in their first event, SCSU appeared to have the same difficulty in the second rotation, when the two teams switched events. At the half, the score was a tight 90.525 to 90.050, with SCSU ahead. Rotations three and four had MIT first on beam and then floor, where they were able execute their routines and come out on top.
The victory was an appropriate farewell as the last home meet for not only MIT’s lone senior (and co-captian) Cindy Chung ’04, but also for Ovalle. After nine years as head coach, Ovalle will be stepping back to an assistant position. Current assistant Jennifer Miller-McEachern will be next season’s head coach.
Complementing the win was a new school team record on the beam. The MIT women totalled 47.35 points, bettering the old record of 45.95. While the record came from strong performances from every competitor, Ovalle noted that the leadership of co-captain Whitney E. Watson ’05 helped inspire the team. “Whitney led off beam, even though this was one of her first meets back from an injury. She has had rib troubles all season,” Ovalle said. Teammates echoed this sentiment, noting that Watson and Chung have been a huge asset through the season. “Cindy is one of the most talented people on the team,” said Lara L. Hershcovitch ’07. “She also makes things for us and is really thoughtful.”
While defeating SCSU was an accomplishment for the team, they are currently focusing on their two post-season meets: the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Championships and the National Collegiate Gymnastics Association (NCGA) Championships. “We used this as a tune-up for national championships. We can still do a little better. Even though we got a record, we had a couple of falls on beam. Also, [we could use] a little more consistency on bar routines,” Ovalle said.
The accomplishments of the team should not be underestimated, however, considering how small the team is and how much each competitor is expected to do. In gymnastics, each event must have a minimum of six competitors, with the top five being scored. With only nine members on the squad, any injuries put the team in a precarious situation. “Chandler [E. Hatton ’06] is injured right now, and everyone has little aches and pains. It really affects us since if anyone gets injured we’re practically a girl short,” Hershcovitch said. Ovalle has had a positive outlook concerning this aspect, however, noting that his athletes have truly risen to meet demands. “It’s a tribute to them that they can all do every event. Every girl really can do anything,” Ovalle said.
Even with this versatility, the Engineers are hoping to have injuries at a minimum after spring break for the NCGA Championships, which MIT will be hosting in the Johnson Athletic Center, April 2-3.