NEW HAVEN, Conn. - After senior Jessica Wang competed at NCAA Regionals last weekend, the 2018 and 2019 Ivy Classic gymnastics team champions prepare to take on the biggest competition of the season Friday, as the Bulldogs travel close-by to Bridgeport, Conn. to compete at the USA Collegiate National Championships. This will conclude their 2019 season. Yale qualified for the championship by finishing among the top eight collegiate gymnastics programs not offering scholarships. This is no easy feat – it has taken the program years to build to this point.
Competitors include the host school, Air Force, Cornell, Lindenwood, TWU, UIC, West Chester and Yale. After setting dozens of records this season, the team enters this competition with immense confidence, without a doubt in contention for the team title. The meet, which runs from Fri., Apr. 12, through Sun., Apr. 14, will be held at Wheeler Recreation Center.
There are three potential opportunities to compete this weekend. The three days of competition at the USAG Collegiate Nationals will be broken down into two qualifying sessions, team finals (Apr. 13 at 7:00 p.m.) and event finals (Apr. 14 at 1:00 p.m.).
The first team semi-final includes Air Force, Lindenwood, West Chester and Yale at 2:00 p.m. The second team semi-final includes Bridgeport, Cornell, TWU and UIC at 7:00 p.m. The top two teams from each qualifying session will advance to Saturday's team finals, while the top five finishers in each event, including ties, from each qualifying session will advance to the event finals on Sunday.
"I think our team needs to stay focused on what our goal is in order to qualify to team finals. We have pushed day in and day out in the gym. Positivity is a huge focus of ours, so all we can do is give it our all out on the floor, motivate one another and love what we are doing," said junior Carly Israel.
Air Force earned a first-place finish at the MPSF Championships (195.725). The Purple Knights from Bridgeport won the ECAC-2 Championship for the 10th consecutive time, while West Chester took second place with a team score of 193.200. Cornell is coming off of a third-place finish with a 194.025 at the ECAC Championships, while the Yale Bulldogs came out in second place (194.400) UIC tied for the title with Lindenwood at the Midwest Independent Conference (MIC) championship with a 195.350, while TWU placed third (193.775).
The Regional Qualifying Score (RQS) rankings heading into the competition this weekend include:
1. Lindenwood (195.400)
2. UIC (195.390)
4. Yale (194.460)
5. Air Force (194.295)
6. TWU (193.945)
7. Cornell (193.485)
8. West Chester (192.790)
Overall, in the NCAA rankings, Air Force is ranked 53rd, Bridgeport 44th, Cornell 59th, Lindenwood 36th, TWU 55th, West Chester 61st and Yale 51st. Not only has Yale never been ranked this high in the NCAA, Yale's team score at the Ivy Classic Championships marks one of the top team scores in program history, increasing Yale's regional qualifying score to above a 194 for the second time in history.
In 2018 at this event the Bulldogs posted a team score of 194.350, resulting in a third-place team finish in the semi-finals. The Bulldogs were edged out by Cornell (195.000) and TWU took first place (195.700). Many Bulldogs made first-team All-American, including sophomore Jacey Baldovino (Bars), junior Jade Buford (All-Around), junior Rebecca Chong (Vault) and senior Jessica Wang (Bars). Baldovino also earned second-team honors on the balance beam.
"As captain, I couldn't be more proud of this amazing group of women and all that we've accomplished so far this season. I think the important thing for us to remember in training these last few weeks is that we are not done yet. We have a job to get done and a legacy to continue to build, and that is exactly what we plan to do this weekend. I have complete faith in the success of this team, and I am beyond excited to give it our all for our final meet of the season," said senior captain Kiarra Alleyne.
Yale's rotation schedule for the competition will be:
Rotation 1 – Bars
Rotation 2 – Beam
Rotation 3— Floor
Rotation 4 – Vault
Both semi-finals as well as team and individual finals have live stats. Here is a link to the 2019 USAG Meet Central Page for the live stream. Broadcast will begin approximately 10 minutes be the event start time. Links for Live scoring link will be up shortly.
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report by Anna Jennings '20, Yale Sports Publicity