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Bulldogs Host Don Tonry Invitational Saturday

Don and Barbara Tonry.
Don and Barbara Tonry.

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The Yale gymnastics team is eager to return to competition after last seeing action on Sunday at home against New Hampshire. The Bulldogs host Bridgeport, Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU) and Springfield for the fifth annual Don Tonry Bulldog Invitational Saturday. The Bulldogs prepare for their third home meet of the season following a season-best performance (194.125) against New Hampshire, which included a team and individual record floor score for the Bulldogs.

"Overall, I think the team did a great job going head-to-head against ranked New Hampshire. We need to pay attention to detail, lessening bobbles and extra steps on landings. Our confidence is building with each meet and I am hopeful this will be another best meet of the season," said head coach Barbara Tonry.

Bridgeport is coming off an impressive win at Brown, where the Purple Knights put up a strong team score of 195.075. They totaled season-bests in the floor exercise (49.100) and the vault (48.850), plus scored 48.625 on the bars and 48.500 on the balance beam. The Owls of SCSU come to New Haven following a first-place finish against Brockport and Rhode Island College (RIC) with a team score of 191.125. The Springfield College gymnastics team produced a season-high team score of 186.500 versus Division II West Chester University on Sunday afternoon. The Rams, who won the dual meet, notched a team score of 191.850.

The meet honors Yale legend Don Tonry, who had been an integral part of Yale gymnastics since its introduction. Tonry was an Olympian who found himself at Yale coaching a newly introduced varsity men's gymnastics team. Don coached and taught at Yale for almost 50 years, winning three Ivy League team titles and an individual NCAA National Championship. This Yale coach was a Hall Of Famer, an NCAA all-around champion, Pan American Champion, a brevet judge in the World Championships and an author and illustrator of many publications, including Sports Illustrated. 

Tonry's presence in the Yale gymnastics community remained consistent even after the team lost its varsity status in 1980. In 2016 he was honored as an Elm City Legend along with his wife, head coach Barbara Tonry. The duo was also inducted into the Connecticut Gymnastics Hall of Fame. This meet signifies his importance to not only the Yale gymnastics community, but also the Yale athletics community as a whole.

"Don taught athletes from beginner level all the way to elite level with equal fervor. He was instrumental in pushing for women's gymnastics at Yale. This led to Yale gymnastics being the only teams (men's and women's) to win an Ivy League Championship in the same year. He truly loved the sport of gymnastics," said Barbara Tonry. 

The Bulldogs have been giving consistent and strong performances throughout the season, increasing their team score with every competition. Expect junior Jade Buford to continue her all-around competitions in preparation for the Bulldogs' first travel meet of the season next Friday. Sophomore Alyssa Firth looks to improve upon her career floor high. 

The meet is set to begin at 12:00 p.m. in John J. Lee Amphitheater. It will be live streamed on ESPN+ here.

report by Anna Jennings '20, Yale Sports Publicity