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Gymnastics finishes 'pretty' third at Pizzitola meet

The electric atmosphere from the men's basketball victory on Saturday carried into Sunday afternoon with the gymnastics team as Brown made a strong showing with a close third place finish. Brown (185.825) finished just behind Bowling Green (191.475) and Bridgeport (188.675. The team notched wins over Massachusetts Institute of Technology (180.600), whom they beat in the season opener, as well as West Chester (174.225). Coaches and players alike were happy with their first home performance of the year, and the overall morale of the team was high after the narrow defeat.

"We did better; better is good," said Assistant Coach Richard Harris. "We need to not miss. We're pretty out there. But we need to be pretty and not miss. If we put the two together, we're set on a higher stage," Harris added, referring to Ivy League competition.

The floor proved to be the girls' dominant event for the day as they narrowly finished behind Bowling Green State, 47.800-48.000. Four Bears - Stephanie Albert '10, Chelsey Binkley '11, Whitney Diederich'09 and Jen Sobuta'09 - finished in the top 10 in the floor exercise, the most of any school.

Sobuta had a great afternoon, finishing third overall in the all-around with a personal best of 38.025 points. She received the highest score of any competitor at 9.800 on the beam, also a personal best, and finished tied-for-fifth in the floor exercise at 9.600 with teammate Diederich and right behind Binkley in fourth at 9.650.

"We were disappointed we didn't beat Bridgeport. But we have a lot of potential to improve. We need to increase our team score every meet - we have a long way to go," Sobuta said.

As for the performance of the freshmen, both coaches and upperclassmen were impressed.

"We have a strong freshman class this year. They stepped it up. We're lucky to have them," said Alicia Sacramone'10, a former teammate. Sacramone is training with the U.S. Olympic squad in preparation for competition in Beijing in the upcoming summer. She said she'll try to make it back for every home meet to help support her former team.

The freshmen performed very well in the meet, in front of a supportive home crowd. Victoria Zanelli '11 was the second-highest scoring freshman in the all-around at 37.250, finishing fifth overall behind Sobuta. Binkley was the third highest-scoring freshman, making an impressive show as well.

"It was nerve-wracking for me. But the spirit of the team and crowd behind me helped," said Melissa Bowe '11.

Harris, the assistant coach, said the meet was a fun opener, since the energy from the crowd fueled the girls to perform well and reach high expectations.

The girls have three more home meets before the end of the season. They will return to the Pitz next Sunday to host the Ocean State Challenge at 1 p.m. against the University of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College.

The team will be back in action this Friday night when they travel to the University of New Hampshire to compete against New Hampshire, the University of Alaska and Bridgeport once again.

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