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Yale Breaks Beam and Vault Records at Gymnastics Conference Championship

Carly Israel '20. Photo by Linus Toy.
Carly Israel '20. Photo by Linus Toy.

ITHACA, N.Y. - Yale gymnastics wrangled multiple impressive performances at the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division I Women's Gymnastics Championship Saturday, securing a second-place finish with a team score of 194.400. The Bulldogs broke a total of four records at Saturday's competition as well as achieving seven season-high scores and five career-high scores. YGT 47 has shattered records yet again this 2019 season and looks to continue the streak as the Bulldogs head to the USA Gymnastics Collegiate National Championships mid-April for one last meet.

"Coming into this competition, the women knew it was going to be difficult to defend their two-time title. Though we had to rest our senior captain and floor anchor to injury as well as lose our top bar and beam scorer to injury, juniors Carly Israel and Anna Jennings stepped up for their team with one week preparation," said head coach Barbara Tonry. "This team rallied and never gave up, coming up three-tenths shy of the title to full athletic-scholarship team Temple. In spite of all obstacles, I am proud of them for giving it their all and carrying themselves as champions."  

Temple totaled a 194.750 to take first place at the meet, hosted by Cornell. Finishing in second place was Yale with a team score of 194.400. Penn took third place with a 193.925. Rounding out the meet was host Cornell with a team score of 193.300, Brown (192.225) and William and Mary with a 192.025.

During the awards ceremony the ECAC handed out yearly individual honors, as voted on by the head coaches. Junior Jade Buford earned 2019 Gymnast of the Year. This makes it back-to-back years the Bulldogs won the Gymnast of the Year award. Buford has cleaned up the ECAC Awards for the past three years – 2017 Rookie of the year, 2018 Gymnast of the Year and 2019 Gymnast of the Year.

"I am so proud of this team and all we have accomplished this season. After having shoulder surgery last summer, I have learned to depend more on the amazing group of girls that make up YGT '47. I am honored to be a part of this team and look forward to continuing our success at USAG Nationals," said Buford.

Team Standings
1. Temple: 194.750
2. Yale: 194.400
3. Penn: 193.925
4 Cornell: 193.300
5. Brown: 192.225
6. William & Mary: 192.025

Opening on the uneven bars, 2018 and 2019 ECAC Athlete of the Year Buford started her all-around competition with a 9.700 bar set, which placed in the top 10 overall. Sophomore Alyssa Firth hit a solid bar set, posting a 9.300. Next up, first-year Kendal Toy posted an 8.500. Catching all releases, fellow first-year Lindsay Chia earned a 9.600, keeping the energy high for the Bulldogs. Senior Roxanne Trachtenberg went out with a bang, contributing a 9.575 routine to Yale's team bar score of a 47.950. Fellow senior Jessica Wang remained in the anchor spot, rounding out the first event for the Bulldogs earning a 9.775. Wang stood on the third-place podium spot on this apparatus. 

Next up was balance beam. This event proved to be the Bulldogs' best event of the evening. Sophomore Charlotte Cooperman led the way for Yale on beam starting off with a 9.725. Junior Carly Israel joined Cooperman with an outstanding hit performance and stuck dismount of a 9.775. Her score was the sixth-highest among all six teams at the competition and also a new career- and season-high score. Buford also notched a new season-high, tying her career-high score of 9.875, leaving the crowd going wild at her stuck dismount. Her score earned her second-place on podium. Junior Emma Firmstone not only had the highest score for the Bulldogs, but posted the highest score of the entire day with an astounding, near-perfect beam routine (9.900). Her score is a new career- and season-high. Buford and Firmstone made their way into the record books posting the third- and second-highest scores in school history. Wang put up a cool, calm and collected beam set, earning the fifth-highest score overall (9.825). Chia took the anchor spot sticking her dismount and ending the best rotation of the day. Yale's solid beam lineup did not disappoint, performing under pressure and recording a team score of 49.100. The team score places second-highest in school history.

Yale moved onto the floor exercise where Cooperman was the lead-off routine for the Bulldogs, posting a solid hit set (9.675). Junior Anna Jennings saw her way into the competition floor lineup for the first time this season, getting the crowd energized with a score of 9.550, before Buford notched a 9.675 with her upbeat floor music. Three Bulldogs finished with scores of 9.800 or higher sticking their three-pass floor sets. One of those was junior Rebecca Chong, posting a huge 9.800 hit floor routine and top 10 finish. Both Firmstone and Firth finished with marks of 9.850, ranking as two of the top five high scores on floor at the meet. Firmstone earned her second season-high score of the day on this event. The Bulldogs totaled a 48.825 on the event, the second-highest of all six teams.

Yale was .25 away from the first-place position heading into the last event, the vault exercise. Jennings competed her second event of the day, putting up her yurchenko-full with a clean landing on 9.650. Trachtenberg in the number two spot remained consistent with a strong score of 9.700, earning her way into the top 10. The Pennsylvania native tied her career-high score as well as earned a new season high. Buford continued the momentum throughout this event posting an incredible 9.725 performing a front-entry vault. Her score is a new season-high. Chong earned the Bulldog's highest vault score of the evening with a 9.750, placing fourth overall. Cooperman tied Firth with a pair of 9.675s. The team vault earned a total of 48.525, earning the seventh-spot in the Yale record books for a team vault score.

Yale's balance was key, putting up consistent team scores all season long. As a team, the Bulldogs placed second on vault and floor out of all six ECAC teams.

Buford played a big role in helping Yale pass the 194 threshold. She finished second in the all-around competition with a total of 38.950, close behind the first-place winner, Ariana Castrence, who won with a 39.175. William & Mary's Caroline Caponi took third with a 38.425, while Temple's Monica Servidio captured fourth place with a score of 38.200.

"Today, we did not have the outcome we wanted, but as a team, we still have a lot to be proud of. Looking forward, I think this meet will push us to be even more motivated to use the next three weeks of practice to improve and end this season on a high note," said captain Kiarra Alleyne.

This 2019 team is re-writing the record books, holding:

  • three out of the top 10 overall team scores
  • five out of the top 10 team vault scores
  • four out of the top 10 team bar scores
  • six out of the top 10 team beam scores
  • one out of the top 10 team floor scores
  • 13 individual event records

YGT has continued its winning streak the past three seasons, winning back-to-back Ivy Classic team titles (2018-19) and back-to-back ECAC team titles (2017-18). Next, Yale will look to send representatives to the NCAA Regional Championships on Apr. 5 at Michigan before competing as a team at the USA Gymnastics Collegiate National Championships from Apr. 12-14 in Bridgeport, Conn.

2019 ECAC Postseason Awards

ECAC Scholar-Athletes of the Year

Emma Hansen (Brown)

Kelsey Kurfirst (Cornell)

Lyanda Dudley (Cornell)

Madison Dwyer (William & Mary)

ECAC Rookie of the Year

Ariana Castrence (Temple)

ECAC Specialist of the Year

India Anderson (Temple) 

ECAC Gymnast of the Year

Monica Servidio (Temple)

Jade Buford (Yale)

ECAC Assistant Coach of the Year

Rachel Inniss (Temple)

ECAC Head Coach of the Year

Josh Nilson (Temple)

Attached here is the ECAC release link.

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report by Anna Jennings '20, Yale Sports Publicity