NEW HAVEN, Conn.- After a record-breaking 2015 season, head coach Barbara Tonry and the Yale women's gymnastics team look to the 2016 season with high hopes. The Bulldogs experienced numerous successes in 2015. They qualified for the team competition at the USAG Collegiate Nationals and obtained the highest team score by a Yale gymnastics team since 2003. Individually, gymnasts were recognized with honors including an ECAC Rookie of the Year and multiple gymnasts were members of the ECAC All Academic team. On the competition floor, the Bulldogs saw individual ECAC Championships and Ivy Classic titles, as well as USAG Collegiate All-American honors. If 2015 was any indication, the Bulldogs will be a team to watch for an Ivy Classic or ECAC Championship title in 2016.
The Bulldogs welcome five members of the class of 2019 that are expected to make immediate impacts in 2016. Kiarra Alleyne joins the Bulldogs from Houston, Texas and is a powerhouse on floor exercise. At the 2014 Junior Olympic NIT National Championships she finished second on the event. She could compete in the all-around for the Bulldogs as well. Sarah Caldwell was a three-time state champion on vault in Maine; she also earned a state title on the beam in 2014. Expect her to be a contender on the two events. Mary Catherine Fletcher is expected to compete in the all-around for the Bulldogs; she finished in the top 10 in every event at the 2015 Texas State Championships. The Bulldogs also gained another potential all-around competitor in Roxanne Trachtenberg. She consistently finished in the top five in the all-around at the Pennsylvania State Championships. Jessica Wang is the final addition to the 2016 gymnastics roster and is also expected to make an immediate impact in the all-around competition. Her various accomplishments include qualifications to the Visa USA National Championships and finishing fifth in the all-around at the Junior Olympic National Championships in 2013.
The sophomore class looks to use their experiences in 2015 to achieve success in the 2016 season. Allison Bushman competed on three apparatus for the Bulldogs in 2015, earning a career-high of 9.75 on the uneven bars at the Ivy Classic, which landed her in a tie for sixth place. Anna Merkuryev comes back in 2016 after having been named ECAC Rookie of the Year in 2015. With solid and consistent performances on all apparatus, Merkuryev will continue to be a factor in the all-around in 2016. Meg Ryan competed on the uneven bars for the Bulldogs at the USAG Collegiate Nationals. Look for her to be an integral part of the bars rotation for the Bulldogs this season. Sloane Smith was a floor and vault specialist for the Bulldogs in 2015. Expect her to continue her contribution to the floor and vault lineups in 2016.
Juniors Anella Anderson, Kacie Traina and Tatiana Winkelman return as upperclassmen with experience to lead their underclassmen teammates. Anderson had a very successful 2015 season with career-highs in the all-around and floor exercise. She is expected to be an all-around competitor for the team again in 2016. Traina was a spectacular addition to the Bulldogs' beam lineup in 2015 after returning from injury, earning a career-high of 9.725 at the ECAC Championships. Her specialization and contribution to the team beam score is anticipated to continue this season. Winkelman specializes in the uneven bars and balance beam for the Bulldogs. After earning career-highs on both events in 2015, she will be an integral part of the two rotations for the Bulldogs.
Two seniors will lead the 2016 team: captain Camilla Opperman and Brittney Sooksengdao. Opperman consistently delivered solid performances for the Bulldogs on her two specialty events: floor and vault. She earned USAG Collegiate All-American status on floor exercise and won the ECAC Championship on the event with a career-high 9.900. Her experience and success will provide leadership to a team with high aspirations for the season ahead. Sooksengdao specialized on the floor and beam for the Bulldogs last season. With an Ivy Classic title on the beam in 2015, she will also be a great leader for the Bulldogs moving forward in 2016.
The gymnasts kick off the 2016 season on January 14, when they travel to Durham to take on New Hampshire.
Report filed by Rachel Wofford '17, Yale Sports Publicity