The gymnastics team competed against five visiting teams in the ECAC Championships Saturday at the Pizzitola Center, finishing in third place overall with a season-high team total of 194.125. Co-captain Caroline Morant ’17 posted a series of standout individual performances, earning the floor exercise title and placing third on vault and bars. In a continuation of her successful season, the senior picked up ECAC co-Gymnast of the Year honors and collected All-ECAC honors on floor, vault and bars. This year, she tied the program record on floor with a score of 9.925, and posted an all-around high of 39.175.
Since arriving at Brown in 2013, Morant has had an illustrious career. As a first-year in 2014, she earned USAG All-American honors on beam and floor, was named ECAC Rookie of the Year and qualified for the NCAA University Park Regional in the all-around. In 2015, Morant took home the Ivy Classic floor title with a score of 9.875, earning first team All-Ivy Classic honors on floor, vault and bars. Last season, she collected first team USAG All-American laurels in the all-around, vault and bars and earned first team All-ECAC on floor and vault. Morant is the first gymnast from Brown to qualify for the NCAA Regionals since fellow co-captain Jorden Mitchell ’17 and Diana Walters ’16 competed in 2015.
For earning ECAC honors and in recognition of her strong leadership of the gymnastics team, Morant has been named The Herald’s Athlete of the Week.
Herald: What were your expectations going into this season?
Morant: I started off the season with an injury — I had surgery on my knee in August, and so really I was just trying to make it through healthy. Knowing that it was my last year, I was really just trying to do what I’ve been doing — stay healthy, make it to the postseason and help the team the last year that I can.
Were you surprised to find out that you had won gymnast of the year?
It is one of those things — I knew they usually (award a winner) based on how many people get gymnast of the week over the course of the season, and general performance in that aspect. So I knew that me and the other girl that won it with me, (Lyanda Dudley of Cornell), had been at the top of the ECAC, so I wasn’t certain that I was going to. But I knew I was in the running for it, for sure.
How do you prepare yourself mentally for a meet?
That is something that I’ve definitely struggled with over the years and that’s kind of developed. For me, I think the best thing to do is not overthink anything. In years past, the day before meets I’ve gotten really nervous, and I would go to bed thinking about it at night just going over my routines. But this year, I’ve kind of just let it not hit me until the last minute. I’ve stayed calm, haven’t worried about it, gotten a good night’s sleep and woken up like it’s like any other day.
You regularly compete in the all-around. Do you have a favorite event?
I really like to compete floor, just because you can’t fall off of it, so it’s a lot better in that regard. But also, that’s the one where you can kind of express yourself more, and kind of have fun with it and connect with the crowd and your teammates while you’re doing your routine.
When did you initially get into the sport?
I’ve been doing it since I was three. I was actually adopted from China, and my mom said that when they picked me up from the orphanage, they told her that all the older girls would play with me and have me do flips and stuff when I was a baby. They told them to put me in gymnastics because I was a really active child. My mom put me in when I was really young in the mom and daughter classes, and I’ve stuck with it ever since.
Do you have any pre-meet rituals?
I don’t myself, but the whole team — before every meet before we walk out — we do a huddle and we have a series of cheers that we all do, to get us pumped. As a captain, some of us will say things before the huddle, just to get everyone in the mindset, and then we do our cheers and then we go out.
What is your go-to meet day breakfast?
I’ll always go to (Bagel Gourmet) up on Thayer and get ham, egg and cheese on a whole wheat bagel — that’s my meet breakfast.
Several of your teammates also earned ECAC honors.What has the team’s progress been like this season?
When we started off, we had a lot of injuries and the season was off to a slow start. We’ve been building, and a lot of individual performances have helped. Like I said, we had a lot of injuries, so some people had to step up, like Anya Olson ’18, … she’s improved immensely, especially because she was injured last year. So seeing her progress from her freshman year to now — she’s helped the team so much this year. And then, specifically at ECACs, Cassidy Jung ’19 — her beam routine was phenomenal. I think she got like 9.825. But watching her train that over the years and have some issues with it in the past — for her to hit under pressure when we’ve already had a couple falls — it was amazing. I was jumping for joy when she hit that routine and it was really exciting to get to see her really come into her own at a really important time.
This interview was edited for length and clarity.