Brown women’s gymnastics advanced to team finals at the USA Gymnastics National Championships for the third time in program history Saturday, capping off a season of historic feats. The Bears also advanced four gymnasts to the individual finals on Sunday, with another four making the alternate teams for individual finals.
“The team has faced so much adversity (since) the rest of our season was canceled in 2020,” said Head Coach Sara Carver-Milne. “This team was gritty, they fought all the way through and they exceeded expectations, not only for the coaching staff but for themselves.”
During the preliminary competition on Friday, the team went in as a “united whole” with “a lot of composure” and confidence, said Julia Bedell ’25.
That night Brown posted a 194.925, the highest team score of the night and the third-highest team score in Brown gymnastics history.
“It was kind of an exclamation mark on the season,” Carver-Milne said. “We had the highest score out of all eight teams in two sessions, and I don't think I've ever smiled more.”
Despite lineup changes stemming from multiple members of the team being sick, Bedell agreed the energy was “amazing.”
“I would almost step away from my body and be like, ‘Wow, the energy is great,’” said Taylor Schulze ’25. “Every person was so excited to be out there, despite some people being sick on our team.”
Schulze earned her season high on beam of 9.900 at Friday’s meet, advancing her to the individual finals on Sunday.
At Saturday’s team finals, the Bears finished fourth with a score of 193.300. Texas Woman’s University won the meet with a score of 196.025, followed by the Air Force Academy and Lindenwood University.
“I definitely think there was a bit of nerves, so we didn't perform our best as a team,” Schulze said. “But after we finished our last event we kind of came together and … the whole team broke down into tears, just reflecting on the amazing season we had, how great the seniors are and how sad we are that they’re leaving.”
On Sunday, four gymnasts competed in the individual finals. Bedell posted a 9.8125 to tie for third on vault and Angela Xing ’24 took home third on beam, scoring a 9.850.
Schulze tied for sixth on beam with a score of 9.800 and Mei Li Costa ’22 scored a 9.800 on bars, taking seventh.
The Championships concluded a record-breaking season for the Bears. Throughout the semester, the team broke the program record for highest team score and earned the highest team scores for vault, bars and floor.
Multiple gymnasts emphasized how the team came together throughout the spring semester. At their very first meet of the season against Yale, they posted a 188.700. By the end of the season, they had claimed four of the five top team scores in program history, including the top score of 195.975 at the inaugural Gymnastics East Conference Championship on March 19, where they placed second.
It was a “slow and steady return to competition,” Carver-Milne said. The team had a smoother start to its routines than past seasons, pacing themselves and building confidence to “peak when it counted.”
“I got so many incredible messages from some of the top coaches in the country,” Carver-Milne added. “Brown’s being noticed. And that was extremely rewarding because we knew this team had the talent to do so well.”
Ella Poley ’23 and Bedell both said the Bears were the “underdogs” this season. “We’re all just really excited and really proud of what we accomplished this year,” Poley said.
“No one ever really considered us a true competitor or someone to look out for,” Bedell said. “But this year, seeing how successful it was and also getting the opportunity to contribute to that was an amazing experience — something that I wouldn’t trade for the world.”
Haley Sandlow is a section editor covering science and research as well as admissions and financial aid. She is a junior from Chicago, Illinois, studying English and French.