STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - The Yale gymnastics team traveled to Penn State Saturday to face some tough competition after the Ivy Classic. The Bulldogs held their own, breaking a 194 for the fourth time this season among fierce competitors that included the host team, Arizona State and Cornell. The Bulldogs had a consistent meet, resulting in a score of 194.100. The Sun Devils took second with a 196.150, while Penn State posted a first-place score of 196.375 at its home arena on senior night. Cornell took third place with a 194.575 team score.
As a team, Yale has moved in the NCAA rankings from 53rd in 2018 to 49th this season, averaging a 193.968.
"Our team came off such a high at Ivies and I am so proud of the way we have been working inside the gym. We had some small mistakes here and there, but we persevered and still had an amazing meet. We will use today as motivation going into the next two weeks leading into ECAC championships," said sophomore Alyssa Firth.
The Bulldogs were off to a great start on floor exercise where they are ranked 48th nationally. All seven gymnasts competing stepped up and gave spectacular performances. Four gymnasts earned a 9.700 or higher. Junior Emma Firmstone came away with an impressive 9.725 to set the tone for the first event of the evening. Next up, sophomore Charlotte Cooperman competed for the Bulldogs, posting a 9.675 to continue the positive momentum. Junior Jade Buford gave a consistent 9.650 performance to start off her all-around performance. Fellow junior Rebecca Chong put on a show for the crowd, sticking every tumbling pass (9.700). Both Firth and senior captain Kiarra Alleyne came away with huge scores of 9.775. Sophomore Jacey Baldovino saw the floor this weekend as she took the exhibition spot with a 9.675. The floor team total came out to be a 48.650.
Gymnasts then moved on to vault, where the Bulldogs are ranked 54th nationally. Junior Anna Jennings proved how much she could contribute to the apparatus, leading the team off another weekend, earning a 9.675 with a full-twisting yurchenko. Senior Roxanne Trachtenberg saw her way back into the line-up scoring a 9.650. Matching Jennings' score, Buford continued her impressive all-around outing with 9.675 vault. Chong performed her half-twisting vault to earn a 9.600. Cooperman put up a 9.625, competing her second event of the day. Firth also contributed her second score of the day, rounding out the rotation and matching her career-high of 9.775, placing in the top 10. Firmstone claimed the exhibition position scoring a 9.575. The vault rotation ended in a 48.400 team score, the ninth-highest score in program history. This is the third time this vault line-up has made it into the top 10 highest scores in Yale gymnastics history.
Ranked 49th nationally in the uneven bars, Yale had a solid performance Saturday. Buford started this rotation off with a clean, hit routine earning a 9.725. First-year Kendal Toy added a 9.750, contributing to the team's 48.075 team score. Fellow first-year Lindsay Chia saw her way into the line-up another weekend with a hit routine. Baldovino continued her presence in the uneven bar lineup, making that her second showing of the day. Trachtenberg performed a huge double-layout dismount for a 9.750 hit set. Yale's anchor, senior Jessica Wang, came away from the event with the top score for Yale (9.850). Her score placed her fourth overall. This is Wang's fifth 9.800 or higher of this season.
Lastly, Yale rotated to its best event of the season, the balance beam. Beam is the Bulldogs' most consistent event, averaging a 48.488. They have attained record season-high scores on the event coming into the Penn State meet. Cooperman proved how much she could contribute to the apparatus as an underclassman. She led Yale off with a hit set (9.725). Buford also had a great beam routine for the Bulldogs, finishing with a score of 9.700. Firmstone made her third showing of this competition, proving her best event with a massive 9.800 stuck set, placing in the top five. Following Firmstone, Wang completed her competition with a solid beam set, topped off with a stuck double-twisting dismount for a 9.825. Her score earned her the runner-up position. Chia had the fourth-highest beam score of the lineup, adding a 9.775 to the huge team score. The first-year made her way into the top 10 during awards. Baldovino was the final Bulldog to compete on the apparatus, rightfully anchoring the ranked-beam lineup, posting a 9.850 and earning first-place overall. This line-up proved why they are ranked 44th nationally on this event. Yale beat all three teams, including nationally-ranked Arizona State and Penn State, on this event with their 48.975 team score. The score was the fourth-highest beam team score for the program.
"I was following five solid-hit routines, so I was definitely more calm and collected going into my routine. I knew I needed to get up there and do what I do every day in practice," said Baldovino.
At the end of the competition, Yale had one all-around competitor: Buford. Buford put together four fantastic routines to finish with a score of 38.750, earning a third-place finish.
The 2019 Yale gymnastics team has proven to be one of Yale's most consistent teams across the board. The Bulldogs have maintained above a 193.775 all season long as well as continued to climb in overall team and event rankings throughout season. The Bulldogs are getting excited for their next competition next Friday at New Hampshire.
report by Anna Jennings '20, Yale Sports Publicity