New England’s advancement to the Super Bowl was not the only reason that Patriots fan and gymnastics head coach John Lavallee was celebrating on Sunday. While the Patriots and Ravens were battling it out on the gridiron, his team was dominating Mountain Pacific Sports Federation rival Air Force in front of a hometown audience.
The UC Davis gymnastics team defeated the Falcons by a score of 191.450 to 185.750 in their first home meet of the season.
The meet began with UC Davis on vault while Air Force simultaneously performed on the uneven parallel bars, a style of competition new to the Pavilion.
“We tried a new format at the home meet today and I think it went pretty well,” said Lavallee. “We’re trying to make it a little more head to head.”
The Aggies’ score of 48.550 on vault was a season high, with not a single athlete scoring below a 9.6. Davis swept the category with junior Katie Yamamura placing first (9.825), sophomore Madeline Kennedy coming in second (9.725) and sophomore Anna Shumaker and freshman Tiana Montell tying for third (9.700).
“[It] was probably our best vaulting in… maybe a couple of years,” said Lavallee. “We really stepped up on that event.”
The Aggies’ commendable performance was not limited to vault. Though the squad appeared to struggle on the uneven bars — the only event in which they were outscored by Air Force — strong performances on balance beam and floor contributed to the team total of 191.450. It is the team’s highest score of the season.
Kennedy had three career-high scores, including a second place performance on floor with a routine that received an enthusiastic response from the Aggie fans.
“It was so much fun,” said Kennedy. “I love being home. It’s a different experience … when you know everyone in the crowd you can make eye contact … it’s fun.”
Yamamura won the all-around title after first place finishes in both vault and bars. Freshman Kayla DeFrancesco also had a standout performance, coming in second in the all-around after tying her personal best of 9.650 in a second place finish on beam.
“We really had a very good day as a team. Our freshmen were excellent,” said Lavallee.
The team will return to the Pavilion on Friday against California and Seattle Pacific, and the Aggies are counting on another supportive audience.
“The more people the better,” said Kennedy. “It was a great turnout. I’d love an even bigger crowd next time.”
KAITLYN ZUFALL can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.