Liao Wins All-Around Competition In Dual-Meet Loss to Southern Connecticut State

Feb. 21, 2009

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The Bulldogs competed strongly in a dual-meet against Southern Connecticut State on Saturday afternoon at the John J. Lee Amphitheater, but unfortunately lost to the cross-town rivals by a score of 186.60-164.025. The Bulldog squad, which was hampered by having a limited line-up compete due to illness and injury, won two of the four events.

In each event, the Bulldogs put in strong efforts, but were hurt by the small size of the squad, which was further hurt by illness and injury. Southern Connecticut State had 11 athletes compete at the meet while only seven Bulldogs competed. The team was only able to have four athletes compete in two of the events, while five athletes competed in the other two events. This placed an incredible amount of importance on each performance, as five performances are counted towards the standings in each event. This meant that the team had to accept zeros for one of their scores in two of the events. Southern Connecticut State, however, had six athletes compete in each event, giving the Owls the ability to discard the lowest score in each of the events. Southern Connecticut State is now 14-1 while the Bulldogs are 5-10.

Senior captain Alina Liao led the Bulldogs by winning the all-around competition with an impressive score of 38.750, the best all-around performance Liao has had in her collegiate career. She has been on an impressive streak in the all-around competition this year. With today's win, Liao has won the all-around competition in five of the seven meets she has competed in this year. This is the second straight week that Liao has won the all-around competition and has set a new personal best in the event in the last two outings. Junior Allison Mak was third in the all-around competition with a score of 37.300 while senior Sarah Hughes was fourth with a score of 34.800.

For Liao, it was exciting to achieve a new life-time best score.

"I was really excited with my performance in the all-around competition," Liao said. "I set a new high-score last week and it was great to break that mark again this week. I still have some areas that I need to work on, but I have been improving."

The best event for the Bulldogs came in the beam, one of the two events that the team was able to count five routines towards their final score in. Liao led the team in the event, taking the top spot with a score of 9.700. Mak and junior Brigitte Kivisto tied for fifth in the event, with both student-athletes having scores of 9.300. Sophomore Sherry Yang took eighth (9.150) and Hughes rounded out the Bulldogs in the event with a ninth-place finish (8.850).

"I felt that we looked better on beam," Liao said. "I had some wobbles, but we finished strong."

The Bulldogs also had five gymnasts compete in the parallel bars, with Liao leading the team with a score of 9.700, which was good enough for second. She was only .025 from the winner, Sarah Darst of Southern Connecticut State. Mak was fourth in the event with a score of 9.425. Hughes and freshmen Claude de Jocas and Margaret Greenberg closed out the scoring in ninth (8.450), 10th (8.425) and 11th (8.200), respectively.

The highest score of the day came in floor exercise, where Liao won with an impressive routine that earned a score of 9.850. Hughes was the next best Bulldog in the event, tying for fifth with a score of 9.400. Mak and Yang were the other Bulldogs in the event, taking seventh (9.075) and eighth (9.000), respectively.

Liao was impressed by Mak's performance in the event.

"Allison Mak completed the double-back tumbling pass for the first time," Liao said. "She has been working hard on it during practice and this was the first time she has done it in a meet."

The Bulldogs also had some strong performances in the vault. Mak and Liao tied for second in the event with a score of 9.500, only .025 behind Southern Connecticut State's Justine Basley. Yang's routine earned her a tied for seventh place (9.100) while Hughes was tenth (8.100).

Liao felt that the team improved in all their performances as well as taking a better approach to competing.

"I feel that the meet went pretty well overall," Liao said. "Our performances were better, but are still rough on the edges. I feel that we were better as competitors. We had some falls, but we didn't let them impact our routines as we just got up and continued our routines. This is important as this is the first year a lot of people are competing in their events. We have made improvements in a lot of areas."

Immediately following the competition, the seniors on the team, Alina Liao, Lauren Tatsuno, Micaline Tomeo and Sarah Hughes, were honored for Senior Day. In recognition of Youth Day, the entire team signed autographs after the awards ceremony.

Head Coach Barbara Tonry believes that the team made progress during the meet, but hopes that future weeks go better.

"I was really pleased with the way that we competed today," Tonry said. "We thought that we were going to be able to have full rotations today, but then Micaline Tomeo was ill and Lauren Tatsuno injured herself during warm-ups, which was disappointing. We have a much smaller squad than other squads, so it is very hard to do well when we have injuries. These kids have been doing an outstanding job and have a lot of heart. Brigitte Kivisto is coming back from injury and had to do a beam routine without putting pressure on her arm and she did an astounding job in her routine. The Ivy Classic next week is an important meet for us and we hope we can get a lot of our kids back."

The team is next in competition at the Ivy Classic hosted by Yale on Feb. 28.

Report filed by Caleb Dorfman '09, Yale Sports Publicity