NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Senior Day for the Yale gymnastics team is typically one of its highest-scoring meets of the year, and this year's seniors made sure 2019 was no exception. Captain Kiarra Alleyne and fellow senior Jessica Wang led the Bulldogs to one of their highest score of the season on Sunday afternoon in John J. Lee Amphitheater with a 193.775 against Ivy rival Brown, who posted a 191.950.
"In terms of leadership and talent, what a terrific senior class. These five women cannot be replaced. The meet today was a win, but this particular team is a 195 team. Next week, we just have to find the right formula to reach that goal," said head coach Barbara Tonry.
The Bulldogs received some strong performances across the board on the day. Yale controlled the meet from start to finish, scoring higher than the meet opponent in all four rotations. The event team scores were as follows: vault, 48.325 - 48.00; bars, 48.600 - 48.200; beam 47.925 – 47.250 and floor, 48.925 - 48.500. The Bulldogs' team score is their third highest this year (behind a 194.025 one week ago).
The team had many highlights for the day. Five Yale gymnasts took the top five spots on vault. Wang won the uneven bars. Sophomore Jacey Baldovino and junior Jade Buford captured the third- and fourth-place spots on bars. To headline an impressive Senior Day performance for the Yale gymnastics team in its last regular-season meet until Ivy Classics, Baldovino, first-year Lindsay Chia and sophomore Charlotte Cooperman took the top three spots on the balance beam. The Bulldogs went all-out for the last event of the day, earning the top five spots on floor exercise. Alleyne, Cooperman, junior Rebecca Chong and junior Emma Firmstone all tied for the first-place spot with matching 9.800s. Buford won the all-around.
The Bulldogs started with a remarkably balanced effort on vault, with the upperclassmen taking four out of the six spots in the lineup. Junior Anna Jennings led Yale off for another weekend, landing her twisting vault, posting a 9.650. This score placed her in top five overall. Wang made her first vault since recovering from injury and posted a 9.675, while Chong performed a twisting half vault, tying Jennings with a 9.650. Wang earned a career-high with her vault. Registering a close score to Chong and Jennings, Buford performed a front-entry vault, tying Wang with a 9.675. Copoerman had a memorable event as she contributed a 9.575 to the lineup score. Fellow sophomore Alyssa Firth shined on this event as the anchor-spot, posting a 9.675. Buford, Firth and Wang tied for second place overall. The top five scores in the lineup were separated by just a .25 of a tenth of a point. Exhibition of the day was Baldovino.
Buford took the first-place spot in the second rotation of the day, hitting her routine (9.750). First-year Kendal Toy paced Yale in the uneven bars, earning a 9.725. This was a career-high for her as well as a sixth-place finish. Chia and senior Roxanne Trachtenberg both hit their sets, recording scores of 9.425 and 9.375 on the event. Baldovino also posted an outstanding routine with a 9.825 to come in third place. As she has been for much of the season, Wang was Yale's premier performer on the uneven bars. Her anchor-spot routine added a 9.875 to the bar team score, taking home the bar title. Firth rounded out the group as the exhibitionist.
"I think something that is incredibly special about our class is how united we are in all aspects – from team leadership to supporting one another in and out of the gym," said senior Sarah Caldwell.
Cooperman tallied a 9.700 as lead-off routine on the balance beam, while Alleyne followed Cooperman. Buford tallied a 9.400 and Wang came out with a 9.300. Chia was runner-up with a great score of 9.750. Anchor Baldovino took home the beam title as she put up a score of 9.775 to round out an even collection of scores. Firmstone and Firth took the exhibition spots.
The Bulldogs finished up with the floor exercise, where Cooperman maintained her high standards with a 9.800. This score tied many teammates, while also placing first. Competing in her primary event, Firmstone picked up right where she left off on balance beam, hitting her routine to score a matching 9.800. Buford finished up her competition with an incredible floor set, posting a 9.725, placing her fifth overall. Chong's outstanding performance not only brought the energy up, but earned her a 9.800. This score landed her in first place. Firth closed out her fourth event of the day with a solid three passes and hit routine (9.525). Alleyne remained the anchor, putting up an incredible hit floor set (9.800). Baldovino and Jennings took the exhibition spots on floor at the last home meet of the season.
"Our team floor was the most outstanding event. The team does not yet realize how great they are. Going forward, we need to combine our best performances on all events at one competition," said Tonry.
Today's performance was an encouraging one for Yale gymnastics as the Bulldogs travel to the Ivy Classic next weekend at Penn.
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report by Anna Jennings '20, Yale Sports Publicity