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Women...s Gymnastics Fifth at NCGA, Best Finish Ever at National Tourney

By Jennifer Miller-McEachern

At the beginning of Spring Break, as others relaxed, the MIT Women’s Gymnastics Team placed fifth at their first National Championship competition since 1997, in their best finish ever.

The team started the competition with the floor event. Lara L. Hershcovitch ’07 (8.90), Sarah N. Trowbridge ’08 (9.425), team captains Francesca E. DeMeo ’06 (9.475) and Jennifer E. Sauchuk ’06 (9.425), and Julia C. Zimmerman ’09 combined for a score of 47.075, with Zimmerman performing one of her best floor routines this season for a remarkable 9.675. MIT placed third out of eight teams, and despite one fall, set a new team season high with a score of 47.075.

Moving on to vault, Laura E. Kelly ’09 did a nice tuck tsuk (8.90), and Sauchuk a solid front handspring front consistent with what she had done all year (9.025). Trowbridge did a great pike tsuk (9.125), and Alison M. Barnard ’06 then threw her best front handspring in competition, but only scored an 8.85 because of a landing error. Zimmerman was solid with a 9.475 and Sophia L. Harrison ’08 performed her usual Yurchenko layout for a 9.350, making the team’s vault total 45.875.

Barnard was first on the bars (8.275), and Sauchuk followed with the best routine of her career (8.625). Sophia Harrison swung an amazing routine, and was rewarded with a 9.45.

On the beam for their final rotation, the team kept its confidence and performed well. Always steady, Hershcovitch hit for an 8.65, Trowbridge went big with a 9.400 and Sophia L. Harrison ’08 scored a 9.425. The team waited for senior DeMeo to hit the routine that had given her trouble all season, and, to their satisfaction and her elation, she hit for a 9.50 and earned the privilege of competing again at Event Finals. On beam MIT scored a season best 46.35 for the fifth place overall finish.

Individually, Harrison and Zimmerman finished in the top 10 in the All-Around competition, earning All-American status for fifth and eighth place respectively. Harrison’s finish marked MIT’s highest in the All-Around since Sonja J. Ellefson ’01 finished fourth in 1999.

Also for the first time in school history, MIT qualified four different competitors to the Individual Event Finals held on the second day of competition. The top fourteen performers from Friday competed Saturday for individual totals to determine the national champions as well as All-Americans (only the top 6 for each apparatus). MIT had a representative in each event, with Zimmerman qualifying on vault and floor exercise, Harrison on uneven bars and balance beam, and DeMeo and Trowbridge on balance beam.

In the individual vault competition Julia Zimmerman scored a 9.00 to finish 14th overall. Sophia Harrison hit her bar routine for a silver medal and a tie for a best ever finish for an MIT gymnast on bars, garnering her second individual All-American Award.

Zimmerman would have another great floor routine, which got the highest score on the second day and brought her to a bronze medal and another All-American Award. In doing so, she tied MIT’s best ever finish on a national floor competition and set a new Institute combined mark of 19.325.

On beam, Trowbridge stayed on for 10th place. DeMeo finished 12th and Harrison 14th.

The last awards of the weekend went to the All-Academic Team of seniors who maintained a 3.0 or better GPA throughout their careers. For the 11th year in a row, MIT’s was perfect in this respect, with Sauchuk and DeMeo receiving this year’s honors.