Feb. 23, 2005
New Haven, CT - Barbara Tonry and her Yale gymnastics squad welcome Cornell, Penn and Brown to the John J. Lee Amphitheater Saturday afternoon for the Ivy Classic.
During Tonry's 32-year coaching career at Yale, the Elis have captured 13 Ivy Classic titles, including two of the last four. The Bulldogs, who won the event the last time they hosted it in 2001, are heading into the meet with an 8-1 record.
"The team has been performing very well with seven straight wins to this point," Tonry said. "Our goal is to hit all 24 performances, six scores in each of the four events."
Senior leadership has been a big part of the Elis' success. Captain Christine Lacy, Kathryn Fong and Lisa Naito all bring a wealth of experience to the gym. All three contributed to Yale's 2003 Ivy Classic championship. At that competition, Fong became the 10th Yale gymnast to win the All-Around Ivy title. She made her all-around season debut on Sunday, scoring a 37.600, which included a 9.800 on the uneven bars, against Brown and Bridgeport.
"I'm very excited about hosting the Ivy Classic as a senior," Fong said. "To have the opportunity to win Ivies in front of family and friends in my last year of college is amazing."
Both Fong and Lacy have already left their mark on Yale gymnastics. Lacy has recorded the two best vaults in Bulldog history, breaking her own record with a 9.825 at last year's Ivy Classic. Fong holds records in the uneven bars, all-around, floor and balance beam competitions.
The Brooklyn, N.Y., native was honored as the ECAC Co-Athlete of the Week on Feb. 1 for her performance against Brown, which included a 9.850 on the uneven bars. She placed second in last year's Ivy Classic all-around and won her second straight uneven bars title.
"The key has been confidence," said Fong of her previous success at the event. "Really, though, the main focus is about doing well as a team. That's my top priority."
In addition to veteran leadership, Yale has a slew of younger standouts that have been essential to the Bulldogs' success this season. Junior Anne McPherson has multiple all-around meet bests this season, including 38.150 against Southern Connecticut and MIT, a score that included a 9.900 on the floor. McPherson has had previous success at the Ivy Classic, winning the balance beam her rookie year.
Suchitra Paul, Miki Seltzer, and Jessica Tai form a potent sophomore trio. Paul was first-team All-ECAC in the floor exercise in 2004, after a 9.900 at the ECAC Championship last year. Seltzer is a proven all-around competitor and Tai contributes in the vault and on the beam.
Freshman Kristen Campbell, named ECAC Rookie of the Week on Feb. 1, has smoothly transitioned to the collegiate level, excelling in the all-around competition. Fellow rookie Cynthia Leung has also been impressive this season, with strong performances on the bars and floor. Katherine Yao, recently named ECAC Co-Coaches Choice of the Week, made her collegiate debut Feb. 12 and posted an 8.750 on the balance beam.
Penn is the defending champion. The Quakers topped the Bulldogs last year by 1.100 points at the Palestra in Philadelphia, Pa. The Elis' regular season meet with Penn was cancelled because of inclement weather.
"I have confidence that this team will be ready to compete and take back the title we narrowly lost to Penn last year," Tonry said.
In addition to having fans and competitors, the Elis will welcome some special guests to John J. Lee Amphitheater on Saturday. Yale won the first Ivy Classic in 1977, the first year it was held, and members from that team will be present to cheer on the 2005 squad, Tonry said.
Report Filed by Sean Singer '06, Yale Sports Publicity