March 21, 2009
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - This was a big year for Yale Gymnastics, hosting both the Ivy Classic and the ECAC Championships within a month of each other. Despite struggling the past few months due to injuries, the last competition of the regular season found junior Allison Mak and senior team captain Alina Liao on top of the podium in the balance beam and all-around, respectively. Mak scored a career high 9.85, becoming the first ECAC beam champion in the school's history. After being named 2009 ECAC Gymnast of the Week last night, Liao became Yale's first ECAC all-around champion since Kathryn Fong's victory in 2003.
Towson won the team competition for the fifth year in the row, with a 193.325, just edging out Cornell, who finished at 193.050. Yale placed seventh, earning a 184.450. However, this was a big day for the team, who competed 23 routines out of a maximum of 24, its highest participation rate all season. Four gymnasts competed in the all-around: Mak, Liao, Sarah Hughes, and Brigitte Kivisto, who has been injured all season. Also, freshman Talis Trevino made her collegiate debut by competing on floor.
Yale got off to a rough start on bars, with only Liao scoring above a 9.0. Her 9.625 placed fourth. Kivisto competed in the event for the first time this season, earning an 8.875, followed by Mak's 8.775. Sarah Hughes earned an 8.125.
While beam was the only event that Yale only had five competitors, meaning that every routine counted towards the team score, it was by far the best performance that they Bulldogs have had all season, earning a 48.200. Aside from Mak's win, Liao placed third with a 9.8 and Kivisto finished in eighth with a 9.775. However, these rankings were only because of ties. In reality, Mak, Liao, and Kivisto's scores were the first, second, and third highest of the meet on beam. Hughes and Sherry Yang hit their career highs on the event, adding a 9.375 and 9.4, respectively.
On floor, the Bulldogs were led by Liao and Kivisto, who each earned a 9.6. Trevino did an excellent job in her first taste of college competition, scoring a 9.275. Hughes earned a 9.2, and Yang a 9.1.
Yale wrapped up the day on vault, with three gymnasts earning above a 9.5. Kivisto scored a 9.575, just ahead of Mak's 9.55, followed by Liao's 9.525. Yang added a 9.075. Micaline Tomeo earned an 8.9, and Hughes an 8.65.
Liao's winning score was a 38.6. Towson's Alise McDonald placed second with a 38.575. There was a three-way tie for third place, between Cornell's Maddie Pearsall, Temple's Kaity Watson, and William & Mary's Kristin Milardo. They each scored a 38.525. Kivisto finished in tenth with a 37.875. Mak had a 36.275, and Hughes a 35.35.
While the regular season is officially over, Liao has an excellent chance of qualifying to the NCAA Regionals, held in Alabama in two weeks. In addition, a few members of the team may earn spots to the Collegiate National Championships, hosted by SCSU in three weeks.
Report filed by Cathy Jan '09, Yale Sports Publicity