Felines Disappoint in Divisionals, Prepare for Home Meets

The Felines placed second at their divisional meet right after coming out of a long break, but are looking to capitalize on their potential.

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The Stuyvesant Felines competed at the Marilyn Cross Divisional meet right after winter break but did not perform as well as they expected. With disappointing results for the team, the meet saw a couple of the Felines plagued by colds, low energy, and rustiness. The team failed to break the Bronx High School of Science’s three-year hold on the Manhattan/Bronx Marilyn Cross Divisional title.

The Felines got back into action after winter break with the Divisional, a meet against Christopher Columbus Campus High, and a scrimmage against Saint Ann’s High School. They were able to win the meet against Christopher Columbus Campus and performed particularly well in the scrimmage meet against Saint Ann’s High School.

However, at the Divisional where all teams from the Felines’ bracket were competing, the Felines performed underwhelmingly with a score of 104.950 at the meet. This was the team’s chance to see how they were competing compared to their potential opponents. “As far as score goes, [it was] a little disappointing,” coach Vasken Choubaralian said. “[It was] for good reasons; coming off a long break [when] a lot of the girls were away, everyone was a little rusty.”

“[Senior and co-captain] Lee-Ann [Rushlow], one of our high scorers, was sick and had a cold. She was a little down on energy, so it wasn’t a great day,” Choubaralian added. Rushlow has been a consistently excellent performer in the season so far and was still the Felines’ top gymnast at Divisionals. Unfortunately, her scores weren’t quite as high as usual. Compared to previous meets, the team performed better in the bar events throughout their meets, one of their weaker events. At the Divisional, the Felines scored only about three points less than Bronx Science in the bar event, respectively scoring 23.00 and 25.82.

Though the Felines placed second overall, their score still fell short behind Bronx Science’s team, which scored 118.600. “They [seemed to] have some pretty good freshmen,” Rushlow said. This is something the captain hoped wouldn’t be added to Bronx’s roster.

However, the Felines have their own freshmen as well. Freshman Agatha Nyarko has consistently competed well thus far. “Agatha has a lot of potential, and through hard work we will be able to improve our team score,” Rushlow said.

At the meet against Christopher Columbus Campus on January 9, the Felines scrambled their roster and new players were given the nod to start. Sophomore Hui Qi Cai was given her second start of the season, performing alongside team mainstays like Nyarko and senior and co-captain Xinyue Nam. Cai also scored a personal best at 6.3 points on her floor routine. However, she was injured before the scrimmage and unable to compete again in the meet. “It was very upsetting, but I am excited to recover and get back on my feet,” Cai said. Despite the mixed-up line-up, the team scored higher than they did in their Divisional performance, showing the potential of the whole team.

An important match for the team was the unofficial match against Saint Ann’s High School in Brooklyn. As it was not an official match, it opened up opportunities for more and new members of the team to compete. “We were able to have a lot of rookies compete for the first time on floor: Sophomores] Julie Weiner and Alyssa Yoo, [freshman] Ella Krechmer, [and sophomore] Saarah Elsayed,” Rushlow said.

Krechmer stood out with a well-choreographed routine despite not having advanced club experience. “She was able to score the highest on floor with a 5.3,” Nam said.

One of the previous goals for the team was to get people who don’t get to compete out onto the floor, and this was a great chance for the Felines to do just that. “It was kind of nerve-racking but still a really fun experience,” Elsayed said.

Weiner explained that they had to make up their own choreography for their routines with help from other members of the team. Choubaralian agreed and was very impressed with the dedication that all the members of team were showing and the potential for the coming years as a result of hard work. “Going to do a floor routine [is] not as easy as it looks. [They all] impressed with a floor routine. [It] takes a lot of courage to come up with one,” Choubaralian said. At the meet, sophomores Naomi Khanna and Anna Zorin and freshman Nyarko also received awards for their respective events as they placed in the top three.

“Making their debut was a little nerve racking, but it's great to see how far they've come with just a couple months on the team under their belt,” Rushlow said.

The rest of the meets will be held at Stuyvesant. All matches so far besides one have been away, so the team is getting ready to perform. “[The Felines are] really excited for the next two home meets,” Choubaralian said. These matches are crucial for the more experienced gymnasts to secure spots in the individuals section at finals. As the final competition is not based on the teams’ records and instead on the overall scores of each team and member, the Felines need to continue their trend of scoring well and work on improving to secure a spot in finals.