Bears punch ticket to Nationals

Gymnastics finishes third at ECAC championship, records a season-high 194.025 team score

Senior Staff Writer
Sunday, April 1, 2018

Co-captains Maggie McAvoy ’18 and Claire Ryan ’18 hold the team’s ECAC championship third place trophy and look forward to USAG nationals.

For the sixth consecutive year, the gymnastics team has qualified for the USA Gymnastics Collegiate National Championships. After finishing third at the Eastern College Athletic Conference Championship March 24, the Bears secured their spot among eight teams by posting a season-high 194.025 last weekend, and will travel to Texas Woman’s University in two weeks to vie for the national title.

“This has been our goal all year,” said Head Coach Sara Carver-Milne. “At the beginning of the year, it was looking a little rocky, and we weren’t putting together the best performances that we needed to solidify a spot for Nationals. But true to our team motto, Grit — greatness revealed in time —, we continued to stay on the right path, be patient and know that if we just continued to work and improve each week that we were going to qualify.”

Going into the conference championship, Brown was ranked sixth. After nailing season-best performances on vault and balance beam, the Bears finished ahead of host Penn, Cornell and first-ranked Temple University to prove they deserved a ticket to Texas.

“It was incredibly rewarding at ECACs because we knew we had to have a season high, and that can put a lot of pressure on the team,” Carver-Milne said. “But they actually took it more as an opportunity, embraced it and had a blast during the entire competition.”

Three competitors earned individual recognition. Cassidy Jung ’19 tied for third on beam to earn First Team All-ECAC recognition and Julia Green ’19 tied for fifth on vault to receive Second Team All-ECAC honors. Anya Barca-Hall ’18 was also recognized for academic achievements, getting named as an ECAC Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

To kick off the competition, Bruno took to the uneven bars where Caroline Warren ’21 set the stage with a 9.600 in the first routine of the meet. Erin Howell ’20 followed with a 9.625, and co-captain Claire Ryan ’18 built on their scores, posting a 9.675. Anya Olson ’18 led the team with a 9.700, and Kate Nelson ’21 capped off Brown’s first rotation with a 9.575.

A season-high 48.675 on beam midway through the meet put the Bears in prime position to record a strong team score. Ryan and Green posted matching marks of 9.675 at the top of the lineup while Rose Domonoske ’21 added a 9.725. Emma Hansen ’21 earned a season-best 9.775, and Jung tied her career-high of 9.825 to help Brown stay on pace with its competitors.

After two events, Bruno left the competition floor, using its third-rotation bye to refocus in the locker room.

“We started really strong on bars and beam, … so we were just holding on to that energy,” said co-captain Maggie McAvoy ’18. “We tried to stay relaxed and calm but also remember that we’re here to do a job.”

The Bears re-entered the meet on floor exercise where McAvoy kept the momentum alive with a 9.700. Olson posted a season-high 9.750 which Anne Christman ’20 matched in the middle of the lineup. Green performed a sky-high double back pike and double back tuck to tally Bruno’s top score of 9.800 while Barca-Hall capped off the event with a 9.675.

With one event left, Brown needed big scores on vault to ensure a place atop the podium. Nelson posted a 9.600 to give the Bears a solid foundation, and Gabrielle Hechtman ’19 followed with a 9.675. Performances by Christman and Green highlighted the final rotation as Christman stuck her tucked full-twisting vault perfectly for a personal-best 9.750, and Green nailed her front handspring front pike to tie her career-high 9.775. Alyssa Gardner ’21 earned a 9.700 for a full-twisting layout in the anchor spot, bringing up a season-high 48.500 on the event.

As their competitors rotated to their last events, the Bears returned to the locker room for their second bye and celebrated a successful performance.

“For us, it wasn’t really even nerves about Nationals or nerves about how we were going to place at the end of the day,” McAvoy said. “We competed like we needed to compete, so hopefully the cards were going to fall in place.”

The 194.025 helped Bruno qualify as the number seven seed heading into Nationals where Brown will compete against Yale, Cornell and Texas Woman’s University in the second preliminary session April 13 at 8 p.m. The top two teams for each session will advance to team finals April 14, and individual event finals will be held April 15.