NEW HAVEN, Conn. – As it awaits the beginning of the 2011 season, the Yale gymnastics team looks to build on a successful season which included regular season wins over two of three Ivy League opponents and a long list of individual accolades. Despite losing two talented seniors, 2011 ECAC Gymnast of the Year Brigitte Kivisto '10 and two-time ECAC balance beam champion Allison Mak '10, the Bulldogs will approach their season with improvement in mind.
"I have very high expectations for the season," said captain Sherry Yang, pointing to an offseason that included increased conditioning in addition to skills training. "We have incredibly talented gymnasts that are willing to work hard and persevere through tough practices and that are extremely motivated. With such team-oriented attitudes, I know that it will be reflected on the competition stage."
Yang, the sole senior on the team, will likely compete in three events for the Bulldogs, as she has done in each of the past two seasons. An extremely consistent performer, Yang did not score below a 9.000 on the floor in 2010 and did so only once on balance beam, competing in both events in all of Yale's meets. Yang also competed on the vault in every meet but one last year.
Yale's three-person junior class is led by Talis Trevino, the Bulldogs' top returner in the floor exercise. In 2010, she averaged a 9.545 on the floor, second on the team behind Kivisto. She also competed regularly on the vault and uneven parallel bars. Monica Shoji and Mia Yabut, the remaining two juniors, saw their first action for the Bulldogs last year after injuries kept them away from competition during their respective freshman seasons. Both gymnasts saw action on the balance beam last season.
Each member of Yale's sophomore class competed in every meet for the Bulldogs last year, with Tara Feld and Stephanie Goldstein competing in the all-around. Feld, who twice won ECAC Rookie of the Week honors, is Yale's top returning gymnast on the vault and the balance beam. She was Yale's top finisher in the all-around competition twice last year and set the school record on the vault with a 9.850 against Penn. Goldstein expects to contribute in all four events again, especially on the floor exercise, her best event. The final sophomore, Lindsay Andsager, is Yale's top returning gymnast on the uneven parallel bars. She was named ECAC Specialist of the Week for her performance in the event against Penn State, and finished third at the ECAC Championships with a 9.725.
Perhaps the key to Yale's success this year will be its talented freshman class, which Yang called "extremely talented and hard-working," claiming that the class of 2014 will make an immediate impact for the Bulldogs. Leading the class are twins Nicole and Tabitha Tay, Singapore natives who are expected to compete in all four events at Yale. In October, both represented their home country at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, India, with Nicole finishing 18th and Tabitha finishing 20th in the all-around. Nicole and Tabitha had represented Singapore twice previously. Fellow freshman Maren Hopkins should also play a large role for Yale this season. Hopkins, who competed for Colorado Athletic Club before coming to Yale, should see action on the uneven parallel bars, balance beam and floor exercise. Another freshman, Ashley O'Connor, joins Yale from Elite Gymnastics Center and won five Connecticut AA High School Championships competing for New Milford. O'Connor will likely compete on the balance beam for the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs begin their season at Springfield on Sunday, Jan. 9. Springfield finished its 2010 campaign ranked third nationally among Division III programs, but Yale defeated the Pride twice last year during the regular season. Yale will then travel to Ithaca College, which Yale bested at Southern Connecticut State's five-way meet last season.
Yale faces its first Ivy opponent on Jan. 29, when it travels to Penn. The Bulldogs defeated the Quakers at last season's dual meet, but Penn finished ahead of Yale at the Ivy Classic.
On February 6, the Bulldogs hold their first of three consecutive home meets, a three-way affair with Rutgers and Ithaca. On Feb. 12, Yale will host the Bulldog Invitational. Present will be Springfield, ECAC foe Temple, and Brockport. The Bulldogs' home stand concludes one week later with a dual meet against local rival SCSU.
The Bulldogs will then travel to Penn for the Ivy Classic on Feb. 27, where they will look to improve on last year's fourth-place finish. Yale will then finish its regular season with away meets at Rutgers and Towson respectively.
The ECAC Championships will be held on Mar. 19 in Providence, R.I., and, should any Yale gymnast qualify, they will travel to Michigan for the NCAA Regionals on Apr. 2.
Report by Trey Chandler '11, Yale Sports Publicity