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Bears place second in home opener

Two gymnasts earn titles, team wears ribbons to show solidarity with sexual abuse survivors

After traveling to competitions around New England for the past three weekends, the gymnastics team returned to the Pizzitola for its 2018 home opener. During their annual dual meet with the wrestling team, the Bears posted a 190.900 team score to land in second place ahead of Rhode Island College and behind the University of Bridgeport.

Bruno claimed two individual event titles as Kate Nelson ’21 placed first on the uneven bars, and Regan Butchness ’18 nabbed the top spot on the balance beam. Butchness was also named the Eastern College Athletic Conference Coaches Choice honoree for the week.

Prior to the competition, the team warmed up in teal “#TimesUp” T-shirts and sported matching hair ribbons to show their support for survivors of sexual assault.

“The NCAA gymnastics community has come together and has been wearing the teal ribbons all season in support of the sexual abuse (survivors),” said head coach Sara Carver-Milne. “It’s a very relevant story in our gymnastics community right now but also across the larger community. One of the first things that we teach our student-athletes when they come to Brown is that they need to have a voice, and I was pretty proud of our athletes stepping up,” she said.

“The gymnastics community is very small, and it kind of affects everyone. … It’s important to send that message that we stand with them and that we understand that it’s difficult,” Carver-Milne added.

As the home team, Brown had the advantage of competing in the Olympic order, beginning on vault. Anya Olson ’18 earned a 9.475 to give the Bears a building score. Gabrielle Hechtman ’19 and Julia Green ’19 supported with a pair of 9.425s, and Alyssa Gardner ’21 closed the rotation by scoring a 9.575.

Bruno was electric on the uneven bars, hitting all six routines to notch a season-high 48.750. Caroline Warren ’21 set the tone with a career-best 9.700, and Claire Ryan ’18 followed with a season-high 9.725. Olson and Emma Hansen ’21 posted matching 9.750s while Nelson earned a personal-best 9.825 to claim the crown.

The Bears carried that momentum to the balance beam, going six for six en route to a season-high 48.450. Ryan opened the rotation by tying her season-best 9.650, and Hansen nailed her second routine of the meet to add a 9.700. Butchness, Bruno’s most experienced beam worker, did not disappoint, notching a season-best 9.800 and solidifying her position atop the field in the final standings.

“That was a huge confidence booster for all of us,” Butchness said. “Bars and beam can be a bit trickier in terms of where there’s room for error, but for us to hit six really strong routines means that each girl who goes up can build on each other’s performances and end with a really high team score.”

Brown closed out the competition on floor exercise where deductions took a toll on the team score. Though the Bears had “three big mistakes,” per Carver-Milne, Olson and Rose Domonoske ’21 set season highs with scores of 9.675 and 9.350, respectively. Anne Christman ’20 also contributed a 9.550 to the overall 190.900.

Bruno goes back on the road Sunday as the team will travel to the University of Maryland for a quad meet including Rutgers University and the College of William and Mary.

“It’s a great opportunity for them to compete against some higher-ranked teams and be in an environment where there might be a little bit more pressure,” Carver-Milne said. “That’s only going to help us grow and be more prepared for the Ivy Classic.”


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