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Bulldog Gymnastics Ends Regular Season On a High Note

Yale celebrates. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Yale celebrates. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

DAVIS, Calif. – The Yale gymnastics team delivered one of its best performances of the 2019 season inside the Pavilion Friday, as a team score of 194.725 resulted in a close fourth-place finish at UC Davis. The score is fifth in the school record books. The 2019 team will go down in Yale history as the first to score above a 194 for five meets in a season. The team results of the meet were as follows: Illinois (195.600), UC Davis (194.850) and Washington (196.975).

"It is exciting that we have been consistently scoring in the high 194s this season. However, if we want to be competitive next weekend and defend our conference title, we will have to focus on our landings and the small details during practice this week," said senior captain Kiarra Alleyne

Yale started off the competition on the balance beam where first year Lindsay Chia was the top scorer, earning fourth place. Her score of 9.850 contributed to the 37th nationally-ranked team beam score of 48.975. A steady balance beam lead-off, sophomore Charlotte Cooperman earned her fourth 9.750 or higher score of the season (9.750). Alleyne was a solid presence for Yale in the beam rotation with a 9.725. Junior Jade Buford continued her all-around competition contributing a solid score of 9.800. Hitting her jumps and leaps, fellow junior Emma Firmstone executed an incredible beam set to post a huge 9.825 finish. The Bulldogs counted five scores of 9.750 or higher, highlighted by back-to-back phenomenal routines from Chia and senior Jessica Wang. Wang sealed her routine for the team as she landed each skill with poise, posting a 9.750. Holding two balance beam records, Chia earned the top spot for the Bulldogs and a new career-high of 9.850. The rookie now holds the 10th highest score in program history, making that score her third record this year. Solidifying her confidence on this event, her score marks the sixth time she has scored a 9.750 or higher this season. The exhibition spot went to junior Carly Israel.

"I felt extremely proud of our lineup for getting up and hitting for six for six incredible routines. It was nerve-wracking taking on the anchor-spot for the first time as a first year. My goal was to finish the first event as strong as possible," said Chia.

The Bulldogs caught fire on their second rotation, the floor exercise, where they put up four consecutive scores of 9.700 or higher. Out of the gate, Firmstone crushed the lead-off spot yet again for a 9.750 performance. Her consistent and confident tumbling put the Bulldogs off to a great start to the rotation. She contributed her fifth 9.750 or higher score this season. After sticking her front-tuck connected to a two and a half twist, Cooperman added a 9.700 to the lineup. A crowd favorite, Alleyne showed off her fierce and creative dance moves. Junior Rebecca Chong propelled Yale's floor score with a gorgeous tumble set to earn a 9.650. The dynamic floor duo of Buford and Firth finished out the rotation for the Bulldogs on a high note, posting a 9.825 and 9.875. Firth performed a near-flawless front double-twisting to punch front tuck, while Buford stuck both all her tumbling passes. Buford secured her performance with sky-high tumbling and clean landings, making her 9.825 the third-time she has scored a 9.800 or higher on floor exercise. The Bulldogs are ranked 51st nationally on floor. 

The third event of the night was the vault exercise, where power and precision were huge factors in the team score of 48.225 for the Bulldogs. Consistency has been key for junior Anna Jennings as she nailed the lead-off spot on another weekend in a row with a 9.575 yurchenko tuck-full vault. Following, senior Roxanne Trachtenberg competed her best vault to date, getting the crowd clapping as she tallied a 9.550. Buford came up in the third spot to hit a 9.700 front-entry vault. Chong put up her fifth 9.625 or higher of the season with a 9.625 yurchenko half vault. Cooperman trailed behind Chong with a 9.600. Firth's powerful anchor yurchenko-full vault grabbed the judge's attention, placing in the top 10 overall (9.725). Firmstone took the exhibition spot for the event. Yale is ranked 56th nationally on vault.

The final rotation for the Bulldogs, uneven bars, ended the meet on a strong note (48.725). Buford finalized her all-around competition with score of 9.500. Firth took the second spot in lineup, posting a 9.325 with a gorgeous tkatchev release move. First-year Kendal Toy made her appearance of the day on bars, sticking her routine and earning a new career-high of 9.800, placing top 10. This is Toy's fourth 9.725 or higher this season. With numerous, intricate hand-change elements in her routine, Chia recorded a 9.625. Trachtenberg was calm and collected on the event, tuning out the crowd celebration inside the Pavilion from Chia's top 15 finish. She earned a massive 9.875. Holding two uneven bar records, senior anchor Wang finished off line-up with a near-perfect performance for the Bulldogs (9.925). Wang's score marks her seventh 9.850 or higher this season and also breaks the top bar score in bar history. She now holds five records on this event. Yale is ranked 49th nationally on this event.

"Last time the team was at UC Davis, I could not compete due to my Achilles surgery. This weekend, I was focused on doing my routines to the best of my ability and having fun. I could not have asked for a better outcome and a new career-high to add to the record books. Thank you to my teammates, coaches and parents for always supporting me," said Wang.

Buford was the sole all-arounder for Yale. She took home a fifth-place finish with a score of 38.825.

Wrapping up regular season, this 2019 team feels confident as they head into post-season with a plethora of team and individual accomplishments. Yale gymnastics has broken 18 team records, 14 individual records, won four competitions, earned its 16th Ivy Classic title and earned a total of 21 event and all-around titles this season. Additionally, the Bulldogs have earned an RQS of 194.200 and team average of 194.092, the highest the program has ever acquired. They hold four out of the top 10 bar scores, five out of the top 10 beam scores and three out of the top 10 vault scores in Yale gymnastics history.

The Bulldogs will look to build off the great successes of this weekend as they gear up for the ECAC Championships next week. They are in the hunt for another ECAC Championship title. A preview and details of the championship meet will be posted early next week.

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report by Anna Jennings '20, Yale Sports Publicity