PROVIDENCE, R.I. - The Yale gymnastics team traveled to Brown Sunday for the annual Ivy Classic. With competitors Brown, Cornell and Penn, the meet determines the Ivy champion. The gymnastics program earned their last Ivy title in 2005, aiming to clench the championship this 2018 season. The Bulldogs came away from the competition with not only their highest score this season thus far (195.025), but Yale's 15th Ivy Classic Title. Cornell trailed the Bulldogs (194.375) Penn followed with a team score of 193.875. To take fourth-place, Brown ended with a 192.975.
"The girls did an outstanding job and it was an awesome experience. The team came into this competition knowing what they were capable of doing and they did just that," said head coach Barbara Tonry. "We have a whole lot of confidence right now. Our next goal is to raise our RQS for Nationals that is held in April," said Tonry.
Yale has put up at least a 193 or higher in the past three meets of the season. The gymnasts have earned over a 194 for the third time this season, beating last season's record of two 194s.
The Bulldogs opened the meet with their third season-best balance beam team total of 48.425. First-year Charlotte Cooperman started Yale off with a solid hit beam set, sticking her dismount and earning a 9.650. Junior Kiarra Allyene competed a clean beam routine, earning a 9.600, gaining momentum for the Yale beam team. The Bulldogs counted four scores of 9.650 or higher, highlighted by back-to-back phenomenal routines from junior Jessica Wang and sophomore Jade Buford. The duo each put up a 9.625 and 9.725, hitting their jumps and sticking their dismounts. Sophomore Emma Firmstone ended the first event on a high note earning a 9.600. Baldovino was calm and steady on beam, tuning out the crowd celebration inside the Pizzitola Sports Center from previous Buford's top 10 finish. She earned a 9.825, placing her first on podium.
The Bulldogs nailed floor exercise for a 49.250, their highest score of the season. This also places this 2018 team in third for Yale's highest of floor team scores. Firth presented an outstanding routine, crushing her career high score (9.825). Alleyne was a solid presence for the Bulldogs in the second rotation with a 9.800. Competing in the all-around, Firmstone added a 9.875 to the team floor score breaking her career-high floor score. Alleyne earned third overall and teammate Firmstone placed runner-up. Buford's powerful, dramatic routine grabbed the judge's attention, landing her in the first-place with a 9.900. Baldovino showed why she's a crowd favorite with her incredibly powerful tumbling and entertaining choreography for a 9.800. Senior Sloane Smith finished off the apparatus with a score of 9.800. Baldovino and Smith tied for fifth place.
On vault, the Bulldogs put up a 48.275 to continue their outstanding competition. Firmstone was steady in leadoff with a 9.525 on her Yurchenko layout. Sophomore Anna Jennings made her showing earning a 9.500 following Firmstone. Buford set a new career-high of a 9.800 in the No. 3 spot. This score landed her a first-place finish. With three-straight 9.95 start value vaults in a row to end the rotation, Yale put up three scores of 9.575 or higher starting with Firth's 9.650 on her yurchenko full. Baldovino recorded a 9.575 to continue her all-around meet. Sophomore Rebecca Chong made her debut of the day delivering an impressive score of 9.725. This is a near career-high for her this 2018 season.
Yale closed the meet on the uneven bars with a record-breaking team score 49.075 to seal the victory. This is Yale's highest bar score in Yale history. Out of the gate, the Bulldogs put up six consecutive scores of 9.650 or higher, starting with a career-high 9.650 from Firmstone. Junior Roxanne Trachtenberg competed her best routine to date, getting the crowd clapping as she tallied a 9.725. Buford tied her career-high with a 9.800 as she stuck her dismount, leaving the Yale cheering section roaring. Baldovino finished up her all-around meet hitting a bar set and sticking her dismount, posting a 9.800. Senior Megan Ryan was beautiful and steady as always on bars, as she recorded a season-high 9.850, landing her a second-place finish. Wang ended the competition with a massive bar score of 9.900, earning her first-place and moving the Bulldogs into the winning position as a team. This is Wang's second 9.900 of the season, earning her yet another spot in the Yale record books.
The Bulldogs also had more all-around competitors in the Classic than they had in the 2017 season. Baldovino, Buford and Firmstone took all three podium spots for the all-around. Baldovino finished second with a total of 39.000. Firmstone concluded her first all-around Ivy competition 38.650, placing third. Buford's score earned her the all-around Ivy Classic title for the second year in a row. Yale's 2018 team holds four of the top 10 all-arounds in Yale history within this season.
"The team has been extremely solid in the gym, which explains our performance at the meet today. We were able to leave it all out on the floor, coming away with a huge win that will be forever remembered," said two-time Ivy Classic all-around champion Buford.
The 2018 Yale gymnastics broke multiple records, exceeding close to all season goals and taking several spots in the Yale record books. As a team, Yale placed second on beam and then swept every other event team total: vault, bars and floor. Not only did Yale win three of the four events as a team, but these gymnasts dominated every individual event title as well. Four Bulldogs took first-place on vault, bars, beam and floor.
Yale has surpassed their team score mark several times already in 2018, indicating high hopes and undoubtedly strong team performances to come.
The Bulldogs will travel to Maryland Fri., Mar. 2 for a meet against Penn, the Terps and Temple.
report by Anna Jennings '20, Yale Sports Publicity