PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The Bears have a chance to make history and become the first Brown gymnastics team to win back-to-back Ivy Classic championships when they host the event featuring Cornell, Penn and Yale at the Pizzitola Sports Center on Sunday at 1 p.m. Last year's Ivy Classic championship - the first for Brown since 1990 and the first for any team besides Cornell or Penn since 2006 – has given way to a streak of success and consistency that has carried over to this year's squad.
"We continue to work on our consistency every week, fine-tuning the details like landings and precise execution," said Head Coach Sara Carver-Milne. "The girls have goals each day to improve all their routines and to hold each other accountable."
That accountability has led to the Bears exceeding the 191-point mark in five of six meets this season, including a season-high 192.825 in a win over Springfield on Feb. 9. Brown currently ranks first in the ECAC and sixth in the North East region in total season average (191.771), the highest mark of any of Sunday's four teams.
"I'm proud just to be able to compete in general but even more so to have the opportunity to do it at home," said senior captain Michelle Shnayder (Lincolnshire, Ill.), who won the Ivy Classic All-Around championship last year with a 38.850. "We're excited to get our friends and families to come out and watch us."
Video of the Ivy Classic will be broadcast live on BrownBears.TV. Fans can subscribe and view games by purchasing yearly, monthly, weekly or daily packages.
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION
Brown faces Cornell and Penn for this first time this season and Yale for the third time after seeing the Bulldogs at New Hampshire on Jan. 19 and the Bulldog Invitational on Feb. 1. Cornell (190.338) and Penn (187.263) rank third and fifth in the ECAC total season average standings, respectively, while Yale's 187.240 is good for sixth.
The Big Red is no stranger to Ivy Classic success, having finished either first or second in each of the last nine seasons. Cornell took home three consecutive titles from 2008 to 2010 and has won five championships since 2002. The Big Red roster features a pair of former Ivy Classic bars champions in seniors Lexi Schupp and Melanie Jorgensen, who won in 2013 and 2011, respectively.
The Quakers, two years removed from consecutive Ivy Classic crowns, come off a second-place finish at their home quad meet on the strength of a season-high 190.850 team score. Freshman Kelly Tan led the way on bars (9.475), beam (9.700) and floor (9.650) en route to earning ECAC Rookie of the Week on Feb. 14.
Yale aims to bounce back after three outings since defeating Penn, 184.350-182.800, on Jan. 25. The Bulldogs look to their three all-around gymnasts, Morgan Traina, Anella Anderson and Joyce Li, to lead the charge to what would be Yale's first Ivy Classic championship since 2005.
BEARS DOMINATE ECAC WEEKLY AWARDS
Brown gymnasts have consistently earned the majority of the Corvias ECAC Division I Women's Gymnastics weekly awards, taking home 11 of a possible 24 honors over six weeks of competition. The Bears immediately made a statement and secured three awards after their opening meet at New Hampshire on Jan. 19, having won multiple awards every week since then. Freshman Caroline Morant (Chicago, Ill.) has established herself as the league's top newcomer with three Rookie of the Week honors, while sophomore Diana Walters (Austin, Texas) was named Gymnast of the Week twice and Coaches' Choice once for a total of three nods.
LAST TIME OUT
Six gymnasts walked away with personal bests as Brown placed second with a team score of 191.600 at the University of New Hampshire in tri-meet action last Saturday. The Bears broke the 191-point mark for the fifth time this season, while the host Wildcats (195.575) took first and Centenary (188.600) placed third.
Morant earned a career-best 38.700 to finish just 0.075 out of first place in the all-around results and posted Brown's highest single-event score with a 9.775 on floor. Morant also secured the Bears' best placing of the day when she scored a 9.750 for fourth place on beam. Senior captain Rebecca Freedman (Plainview, N.Y.) posted a 9.725 on vault for fifth place and the second-highest score of her career, earning her ECAC Specialist of the Week honors.
The Bears return to action on Thursday, March 6, at Bridgeport. First rotation is scheduled for 6 p.m.