Gymnastics dominates this season as a club team

MIT prepares for strong Nationals performance, taking first place at five of six meets

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Zara K. Karuman ’13 performs a routine on the uneven bars during Saturday’s gymnastics meet in Dupont.
Melissa Renée Schumacher—The Tech

It’s an exciting year to be on the Women’s Gymnastics team at MIT. Even though they were cut from varsity status to club status in 2009, the team has powered through the past two years and won at last year’s nationals.

Coming in first place at five out of their six meets so far this season, the team boasts some strong new members and talented alumni and graduate students who have poured dozens of hours into practices in preparation for nationals in Salt Lake City Utah from April 18 to April 22.

The team competed this past Saturday in a meet in Dupont Gym at MIT, but Cambridge Community Gymnastics (CCG), an adult gymnastics program that uses MIT facilities, hosted the meet. This was the first time that CCG ever hosted a meet and also the first time that MIT was not a host in its own gym. The other competing teams were University of Connecticut, Boston University, Rutgers University, and University of New England. MIT earned its highest overall score of the season, 148.95, “which reflects all the hard work we’ve been doing in the gym as we prepare for nationals and also gives us an idea of what we need to perfect before nationals,” said Kelsey C. Seto ’15.

For those unaware of how gymnastics meets are run, each team rotates through each of the events (vault, uneven parallel bars, balance beam and floor exercise) and competes their lineups, six individuals per event. In last Saturday’s meet, MIT competed its entire team: Kelsey C. Seto ’15, Lindsay M Sanneman ’15, Kristen D. Watkins G, Julia Sharpe ’09, and Zara K. Karuman ’13. After the competition, the top four scores from each of the four events are added up to calculate the team score. The max for each individual score is 10.0, with the max team score being 160.0.

Coach Gina Policelli ’10 explained how it was great to see everyone on the team rise to full potential and deliver great routines on every event. “This puts us in a good place to go into nationals,” Policelli said.

Policelli was particularly excited about Sanneman completing her double back dismount on bars, Watkins’s debut and sticking her back tuck on beam, Seto demonstrating an impressive stuck beam routine, and Karuman and Sharpe scoring extremely well in the all around.

With great confidence to go into nationals, Sharpe, who was on the team when it was still a varsity sport and who now competes as well as help coach, explained, “There’s a bit of pressure for the team to defend our national title, but I have no doubts that the team is up to the challenge and ready to perform exceptionally well at nationals.”

Seto, the team’s newest member and only freshmen, shed some light on her experience with the team.

“I’ve only ever competed on a recreational level as a part of a small gym, and I wasn’t sure that I was good enough to be a part of MIT’s team. I was especially intimidated knowing that the team had won the national title the year before. However, the team was very welcoming and very excited to have a new member,” said Seto.

Seto also shared with The Tech some insight into the dynamics of the team.

“We have a lot of fun at practice, and we are a very tight-knit team since the team is so small. We are always encouraging each other and trying to help each other improve routines and learn new skills. Being a part of the team has been a great experience for me and a good way to escape from the stress of MIT’s academic life,” Seto explained.

Continuing on the trend of pre-nationals excitement, Sharpe added, “We seemed primed to peak just in time for nationals.”