Brown Gymnastics (14-12, 7-2 GECS) will compete against seven other schools in the USA Gymnastics’ Women’s Collegiate National Championships meet at Texas Woman’s University Thursday, Friday and Saturday — the team’s last meet of the season.
“This is (the) time for the athletes to showcase and really celebrate all their hard work I think they’ve accomplished over the season,” said Head Coach Brittany Harris. “Everyone just feels really confident and really ready to go.”
The team has spent the last few weeks of practice focused on cleaning up details in routines and preparing for the mental pressures of the upcoming meet in Denton, Texas. The gymnasts have simulated the meet environment by “competing” their full lineup in front of their teammates. Jasmine Lee ’23 said the bar lineup did “cold” sets on bars — sets with minimal warmup time — which turns on the pressure and gets them “ready for any situation.”
Harris said that she hopes the team’s practice will pay off “so they can get the best routine of their lives, going big, working on those sharp finishes, strong landings.”
The meet comes on the heels of the Gymnastics East Conference Championships meet March 18, the Bears finished fourth against seven other teams, with a team score of 193.750. While the meet didn’t go as well as the team had hoped, individual gymnasts still had highlights in their performances.
Julia Bedell ’25 took first place on vault, sticking her pass for the first time to earn a 9.850, and Angela Xing ’24 took second with a 9.775. Lee earned a 9.775 on uneven parallel bars, a personal record.
Abby Contello ’23 landed a 9.825 on balance beam, finishing third. But the beam rotation saw three falls, so by the time the Bears reached floor exercise — their last event of the meet — the team’s mindset was to end on a high note. It was in this low-pressure, relaxed mindset that Bedell scored a 9.950 on her routine, earning her first place and a new program record on floor.
“I was really proud of the floor routine that I was able to put out that day,” Bedell said. “It was really nice to see the score finally match (the hard work) I put in, and that was just a very rewarding feeling.”
“It may not have worked out fully in our favor, but there were a lot of great takeaways” from the meet, Harris said.
Coming out of the GEC Championships with a strong motivation to do better at nationals, the Bears still know they have “a lot more to give,” said Carolanne Van Zandt ’23. “I really want to just lay it all out there.”
But the mood is still light-hearted, Bedell said, with fun assignments from coaches that are both “productive and effective,” including a warmup of “Stick Tac Toe.” Splitting up into teams, the gymnasts drew two life-sized Tic Tac Toe boards on the floor with chalk. The gymnasts had to do a flip off a springboard into board spaces, but to earn an X or O for their team, they had to stick the flip perfectly.
Bedell and Van Zandt also described doing dance routines on floor — run-throughs without tumbling passes and just choreography, jumps and leaps — in which they had to make eye contact with every person in the gym.
“One of the things that can be a little bit challenging is trying to be super expressive on the dance floor, really catch the crowd and capture the judges,” Bedell said. If the gymnasts weren’t expressive enough in their dance-throughs, their coach would turn off their music and make them start again, a bonus for working on endurance.
On Thursday, the Bears will compete in the team preliminaries in Texas. If they qualify for the team finals, they will compete on Friday, and qualifying individuals will compete Saturday in the event finals. For the team's five seniors, it’s an opportunity to finish their time with Brown Gymnastics on a high note.
“I feel really good about where my career has ended up,” Lee said. “I'm walking away feeling pretty satisfied.”
After GECs, “I knew I wasn’t finished. I know I have a lot more to give,” Van Zandt said. “This is the team that I would want to finish (my career) out with, and I know we can finish out really well.”
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.