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Yale Posts Second-Highest Gymnastics Team Score This Season

Steve Musco Photography. YGT Floor. Senior Captain Kiarra Alleyne.
Steve Musco Photography. YGT Floor. Senior Captain Kiarra Alleyne.

DURHAM, N.H. - The Yale gymnastics team put together a massive 194.950 team score in a narrow loss to No. 30 New Hampshire Friday night at Lundholm Gym. This is the second-highest team score this season as well as the fourth-highest in school history. The Wildcats posted a 196.175. After Friday night's efforts, the 2019 Yale gymnastics team holds two of the top four team scores, three of the top 10 team vault scores and four of the top 10 team beam scores in school history.

Texas native junior Jade Buford was key again for the Blue and White as she captured the runner-up title in the all-around as well as a new season-high score on floor (9.825) and vault (9.700). Her all-around score was also a new season-high. She placed top 10 on all four events. Notably, sophomore Alyssa Firth took third on vault with a huge yurchenko-full (9.750). 

"We came into the competition knowing we needed to step up as a team, and we did exactly that. As we travel to California next week, I am looking forward to showing the west coast what this team is capable of and strive to build on the Yale gymnastics legacy just as we have been doing this entire season," said first-year Seina Cho.

The Bulldogs opened with a strong uneven bar line-up: Buford, first year Kendal Toy, first year Lindsay Chia, senior Roxanne Trachtenberg, sophomore Jacey Baldovino and senior Jessica Wang. The Bulldogs hit all of their landings in the first rotation, highlighted by scores from Baldovino (9.800), Trachtenberg (9.850) and Wang (9.825). Beginning the rotation with a 9.725, Buford hit her bar set, putting the squad in a good starting position. Toy paced the Bulldogs in the opening rotation with an identical 9.725, and Trachtenberg followed with a beautiful hit set and double layout dismount (9.850). This is a new season high for the senior and earned her second place. To cap off the event, Wang's near flawless routine led Yale to a 48.925 bar team total. Wang placed third. Firth took the exhibition spot. Yale's bar team score placed third-highest in the school history books.

Yale continued to the vault and placed 10th highest in the school record books. It all started with junior Anna Jennings as lead-off for the Bulldogs for a 9.575 start. Trachtenberg continued her outstanding meet with a 9.600. Buford notched a solid 9.700, while fellow junior teammate Rebecca Chong put up a 9.625. Buford tied her season-high score. Sophomore Charlotte Cooperman matched Buford's 9.700, placing in the top 10. Firth anchored the vault rotation with a 9.750 to give the Bulldogs a 48.375 team score. Junior Emma Firmstone took the exhibition spot.

The floor lineup put together solid routines to score a 48.750 and pace the squad to a 194-plus score. Firmstone started off the last rotation with a 9.700. Cooperman had another superb showing as she went 9.725 to place top 10 among tough competition. Following with an equally impressive routine, Alleyne's 9.675 contributed to a solid line-up score. Closing out her competition in style, Chong scored a 9.750. Consistent in her third event of the evening, Firth posted a 9.750. Yale came close to the 195 team score with Buford's contribution of a huge 9.825 to the event, placing top five and earning a new season high.

To end the night at the Lundholm Gymnasium, the Bulldogs posted an impressive balance beam rotation with five scores of 9.750 or higher. Five gymnasts placed in the top 10. Cooperman finished her fantastic night with a lead-off score of 9.775 for the squad. Firmstone continued as the second performer on beam and posted a huge 9.825 score to take third place. Her score is a new season high. Buford and Wang matched Cooperman's score with a 9.775, adding strong performances to the event total. Chia kept the momentum going, sticking her dismount and posting a 9.750. Alleyne performed a beautiful routine to post a 9.650 and cap the rotation score at 48.900. This team beam score places sixth in the history books. Buford, Cooperman and Firmstone seem to be a trio that cannot be stopped. All three gymnasts have scored over 9.750s or higher this season.

Three-time Ivy Classic all-around champion Buford took home the runner-up all-around position against the Wildcats with a new season-high score of 39.025. New Hampshire's Danielle Mulligan took the title with a 39.350.

After Friday night's performance, Yale is ranked eighth regionally, second in conference and first in the Ivy League.

Improving by almost a point from last weekend, Yale is ready to hit the road for a fly-away meet cross-country to take on Illinois, UC Davis and Washington at UC Davis at 7:00 p.m. PST on Friday, Mar. 15.

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report by Anna Jennings '20, Yale Sports Publicity