March 29, 2007

ECAC Championships Just Around the Corner

March 29, 2007

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - This Saturday, Mar. 31, Yale will walk into Cornell's Newman Arena for the ECAC Championships. According to the season's average scores, the Bulldogs are currently ranked fifth in the conference. However, their high score of 191.775, earned at Towson on Mar. 9, currently ranks third. The gymnasts are looking to improve from their 4th place finish last year.

Yale is coming off two shaky quad meets at West Virginia and at Penn State, punctuated with falls on bars and beam and changing line-ups. Freshman Brigitte Kivisto and junior Laura Lombardi, who combined contribute seven routines, have been injured recently. It is unclear how many events, if any, they will be able to compete.

"It depends on how the rest of the week goes," said head coach Barbara Tonry.

For the five seniors on the team, this will perhaps be the last meet of their collegiate careers. Jessica Tai can be counted on for solid routines on all four events if necessary. Jessica Blick has a powerful bar routine, as does Suchitra Paul. Paul also contributes on beam and floor - she won the latter at ECACs in 2004. Miki Seltzer, the NCAA Regionals qualifier on floor and vault in 2006, has continued to excel on those two events this season and is currently in contention for Regionals again on vault. While team captain Sarah Peterson has been injured all season, she made a comeback last weekend at Penn State and perhaps may do so again at Cornell.

In the junior class, Kristen Campbell and Cynthia Leung have been leading off the beam and bars line-ups, respectively. Lombardi generally leads off on vault, but her status is still unclear.

Sophomore Alina Liao will be key to the team's success, having earned ECAC Gymnast of the Week twice this season. She has put up a score of 9.7 or higher on bars, beam, or floor at almost every meet and is in contention to qualify for Regionals in the all-around. Lauren Tatsuno, also a sophomore, is one of the team's strongest vault and beam workers, and also contributes on floor.

Yale's goal is to hit all four events, not having to count any falls in the team score. Although this occurred at Towson, Tonry doesn't believe that was the team's best performance. While Yale has been solid on vault and floor all season, it may be difficult to find enough healthy gymnasts to fill the line-ups. Bars has been a problem spot for the team, but all the extra work paid off when the team hit at the Ivy Classic. Beam is unpredictable, but this year has been more good then bad. When the Bulldogs stay on, they have the potential of scoring high.

Yale will be the fifth out of nine teams to pick which event they would like to start on. The final order will not be determined until Friday night. Competition starts at 12pm on Saturday.

Report filed by Cathy Jan '09, Yale Sports Publicity

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