DENTON, TX. - Yale gymnastics finished in third place with an overall team score of 194.350 in the evening semifinal session of the USAG Championships Friday night inside Kitty Magee Arena on the campus of Texas Woman's University. This is the highest team score Yale has posted in a National semi-final in school history.
"This was an incredible season for this team and a wonderful way to finish my gymnastics career. In addition to winning Ivies and ECACs, we broke multiple records. I look forward to watching the team grow even more in the following seasons. Accomplishments aside, I am proud of how our team was able to come together and support one another through our struggles to find a coach during preseason, as well as the obstacles we faced during individual competitions. Every one of the girls on the team contributed in their own unique way and I know that they are destined for greatness in the years to come," said senior captain Allison Bushman.
Semi-final one standings included a tie for the first-place position between United States Airforce Academy and Lindenwood (194.950). Bridgeport finished just 0.100 behind the two teams, as it placed third with a 194.850, and Pennsylvania rounded out the field with a fourth-place score of 193.925. As for the second semi-final, TWU earned a team score of 195.700 securing its first-qualifier spot. Cornell followed with a 195.000 edging out the Bulldogs who post a 194.325. Rounding out the meet was Brown (193.20) placing fourth. This concludes the 2018 season for the Bears and Bulldogs.
Team Standings in Semi-Final Session One
1. Lindenwood: 194.950
2. Air Force: 194.950
3. Bridgeport: 194.850
4. Penn: 193.925
Team Standings in Semi-Final Session Two
1. TWU: 195.700
2. Cornell: 195.000
3. Yale: 194.350
4. Brown: 193.825
Opening on floor, sophomore Sofia Menemenlis led off the Bulldogs with a hit routine (9.675). Five Bulldogs finished with scores of 9.700 or higher sticking their three-pass floor sets. One of those was first-year Alyssa Firth posting a 9.700 hit floor routine. Senior Sloane Smith got the crowd energized with a score of 9.750, before junior Kiarra Alleyne notched a 9.725 with her upbeat floor music. Both sophomores Emma Firmstone and reigning rookie of the year, Jade Buford finished with marks of 9.700 or higher, Buford posting a 9.750 and Firmstone earning a 9.700. The Bulldogs culminated a 48.625 on the event, placing third among the four teams on floor exercise.
Yale moved onto vault where Firmstone carried over high energy from floor exercise, posting a 9.600 with a yurchenko layout. Fellow sophomore Anna Jennings in the number two position remained consistent, continuing the momentum throughout the event earning a 9.675 with a yurchenko full. Junior Roxanne Trachtenberg returned into line-up this competition, pushing through a mid-season shoulder injury. She did not disappoint, delivering an outstanding vault, adding another 9.675 to the vault team score. Buford competed her second event of the evening with a front-entry vault, 9.625, while Firth posted a 9.600 with a yurchenko full. Sophomore Rebecca Chong finished up the vault performing a massive 9.825 yurchenko half. The sophomore placed second overall, advancing to individual finals. Team vault earned a total event score of 48.400.
Firth and Firmstone were the two lead-off routines for the Bulldog bar lineup on the third event of the evening. Both hit a solid bar set, posting a 9.475 and 9.500, contributing to Yale's team bar score of a 48.500. Athlete of the Year Buford stuck her third event, continuing her all-around competition (9.775). Buford placed in the top 10 on this event. Catching all releases and sticking her dismount, Baldovino earned a 9.825, keeping the energy high for the Bulldogs. She earned her advancement to the individual finals and placed fourth overall on this event. Junior Jessica Wang remained in the anchor spot, sticking her routine with a bang posting another 9.900 for the season. Joining Baldovino, Wang's score advanced her to the individual finals Sunday evening as well as winning the meet on this event.
Yale rotated to the last event of the night, the balance beam. This apparatus proved to be the Bulldogs' best event of the evening. First-year Charlotte Cooperman led the way for Yale on beam sticking her dismount, posting a massive 9.800 and placing her in the top 10. Alleyne joined Cooperman with an outstanding performance of a 9.725. Buford had the second-highest score for the Bulldogs, highlighting the last event with an astounding beam routine (9.750). Wang put up an incredibly smooth beam set, earning a 9.700. Baldovino performed another near-perfect beam routine this season, sticking her dismount for a score of 9.825, having the crowd go wild at her stuck dismount. The score earned her a sixth-place finish overall. Yale's solid beam lineup did not disappoint, performing under pressure and recording a team score of 48.825.
Buford played a big role in helping Yale earn a third place finish. She finished third in the all-around competition with a total of 38.925, barely behind the runner-up, Amy Shen (39.100) of Cornell. Schyler Jones of the TWU won with a 39.600.
"We always have really high aspirations when we go into competitions, and this meet we did our best. We may have not hit our ultimate goal; however, our performances this weekend does not take away from all of the success that we've had this year. At the end of the day, I'm so proud of this team and the amount of heart that we've had this entire season," said Alleyne.
Within the 2018 season, 40 team records have been broken. Next, Yale will look to individual finals Sunday, Apr., 15 at 1:00 p.m. CST as several gymnasts vie for individual titles. The Bulldogs are sending three gymnasts to individual event finals, Baldovino, Chong and Wang. Baldovino qualified for bars and beam, while Chong qualified for vault. Lastly, Wang made finals for her near-perfect 9.900 bar set.
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report by Anna Jennings '20, Yale Sports Publicity