A season-best performance on balance beam and career-high scores from multiple gymnasts elevated the gymnastics team’s final competition of the season, as it finished fourth in the second preliminary session at the 2018 USA Gymnastics Collegiate National Championships Friday. The Bears notched their second-highest team score of the season, a 193.825, but host Texas Woman’s University and Cornell claimed the top two spots to advance to finals.
Bruno sent three competitors to individual event finals. Regan Butchness ’18 finished seventh on beam with a 9.725 while Emma Hansen ’21 and co-captain Claire Ryan ’18 placed ninth and fourth on the uneven bars with scores of 9.750 and 9.800, respectively. All three gymnasts earned First Team USAG All-America honors, and Julia Green ’19 received Second Team honors on vault.
Brown also garnered recognition for academic achievements as 11 gymnasts were named USAG Scholar-Athletes.
“We knew that our goal all season was to make it to Nationals, and we were there to go big and have fun,” said Erin Howell ’20. “We had more than a couple people get season highs, and we had really, really great performances. It just showed that everything we worked for definitely paid off.”
The Bears opened the meet on bars where Caroline Warren ’21 posted a 9.650 in the leadoff spot. Career-high scores of 9.750 for Howell and 9.850 for Ryan looked to put Brown on track for a big finish on its first event, but mistakes in the last half of the lineup hampered Bruno’s marks. Hansen helped the Bears bounce back with a personal-best 9.875, generating some positive momentum going into the second rotation.
During the 2017 National Championships, Bruno struggled on the balance beam, managing only two hit routines and counting three sets with falls. But the Bears put the past behind them this year and nailed every routine, tallying a 48.900 on the event to tie a program record.
“People just came in and knew they had a job to do,” Butchness said. “A lot of that stems from our poor performance in the season opener. … I always reference back to that point (as) the lowest we could go. With all this work that we’ve put in and consistency that we have under our belt, watch how high we can go.”
Green earned a 9.750 at the top of the lineup, and the scores built from there as Rose Domonoske ’21 scored a 9.800 to match her career high. Hansen and Cassidy Jung ’19 supported with scores of 9.725 and 9.775, respectively, before beam specialist Butchness posted a personal-best 9.850 in the anchor position to bring up the Bears’ record total.
After the near-flawless beam set, Brown kept the energy up on floor exercise as Kate Nelson ’21 kicked off the third event with a 9.575. Co-captain Maggie McAvoy ’18 and Anya Olson ’18 capped off their collegiate gymnastics careers with scores of 9.700 and 9.650, respectively. Green added a 9.800, and Anya Barca-Hall ’18 earned a 9.825 for her final collegiate performance.
With one rotation left, Bruno closed out its season on vault. Nelson and Gabrielle Hechtman ’19 earned twin scores of 9.575, while Anne Christman ’20 followed with a 9.450. Green led the Bears with a 9.725, and Alyssa Gardner ’21 put up a 9.675 to conclude Brown’s 2018 schedule.
“This year, we had this lightheartedness and passionate sense to the team which really worked to our advantage,” Butchness said. “We definitely started the season slow … but we ended on a very high note, and I don’t think anyone is upset. … We weren’t the caliber of the other teams to make team finals, but there were victories within our team that everyone is happy about.”