Jan. 9, 2008
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Even though the Yale campus is still closed to most students, the Yale women's gymnastics team is hard at work in the gym. Their intensive practices during the last three months will be put to test for the first time this year at Springfield College on Sunday, in a six team competition.
The Bulldogs lost five seniors to graduation, including ECAC floor champion Miki Seltzer, bars specialist Jessica Blick, former team captain Sarah Peterson, Suchitra Paul, and Jessica Tai, who each contributed two or three routines at every competition last season. All together, the five women accounted for an average of eight routines each week. The team is hit hardest on floor, losing three routines. Beam is the rotation least affected, with only one routine to fill.
"The loss of the five strong seniors is tough, but the girls have stepped up and things are starting to come together," said Head Coach Barbara Tonry.
The Bulldogs have a nucleus of nine returning gymnasts, including four experienced seniors. Team captain Kristen Campbell was a beam specialist last year, but is planning on competing in the all-around. Laura Lombardi is returning on vault, bars, and beam, and bars specialist Cynthia Leung may add another event. Katherine Yao, who was injured last year, will likely be joining several line-ups.
The junior crop is exceptionally strong, with Alina Liao, Lauren Tatsuno, and Sarah Hughes. Liao competed in the all-around in all twelve meets last season, placing 3rd at the Ivy Classic. She is also a two-time qualifier to the Regional Championships. Tatsuno has been a solid contributor on vault, beam, and floor in her freshman and sophomore years and the team will continue to welcome her consistency. Hughes is in the floor line-up.
Brigitte Kivisto was the other all-around competitor for the Bulldogs last season, finishing 5th in the Ivy Classic and placing 3rd on beam at the ECAC Championships. Her fellow class of 2010 teammate, Allison Mak, will continue competing on beam and perhaps another event.
Despite the small size of the team, the Bulldogs are ready for the season.
"Since a majority of our team consists of upperclassmen, we have a lot of experience with college competition, so it's not a matter of adjustment to a new system at this point," said Campbell.
Yale will be hosting four meets in the John J. Lee Amphitheater, including three in a row starting at the end of January. The Bulldogs' toughest competition will be against Towson, three-time reigning ECAC Champions.
The season starts at 1pm on Sunday, Jan. 13 at Springfield College. Also attending will be Brockport, Ithaca, University of Bridgeport, and Southern Connecticut State University.
Report filed by Cathy Jan '09, Yale Sports Publicity