Friday, July 28, 2000

Cincinnati gymnasts have mixed results


Beckerman ties for beam title; White struggles

By Scott MacGregor
The Cincinnati Enquirer

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Alyssa Beckerman competes in floor exercise.
(AP photo)
| ZOOM |
        ST. LOUIS — Alyssa Beckerman of Cincinnati Gymnastics Academy tied for the national title on balance beam Thursday at the U.S. national championships. But teammate Morgan White, who entered with high hopes as a top contender for the all-around title, fell on her second vault landing and ended eighth overall heading into Saturday's final day of all-around competition.

        Beckerman placed fifth overall, and Cincinnati's Dominique Moceanu was 10th. The top 12 after Saturday's finals advance to the Olympic Trials in Boston next month.

        After the meet, Beckerman and White received hearty hugs from Bela Karolyi, the director of the national team who will be the loudest voice in selecting the Olympic team. While the hug for Beckerman was one of triumph, it was more consoling for White.

        “It was really a tough meet,” Cincinnati coach Mary Lee Tracy said. “It just killed me to watch Morgan, because she works so hard. But Alyssa really went after the beam, and she nailed it.”

        Beckerman's goal was to be national champion on the beam, and she fulfilled it with a 9.65, tying her with 1996 Olympian Amy Chow.

        Beckerman said she was nervous before the meet, but she didn't show it on the beam, her final event.

        “I'm pretty happy,” Beckerman said with a laugh. “(Beam is) a scary event for everybody. You have to be cautious, but not cautious. You can't go all-out like you can on the floor. I thought I did well. I hit 4-for-4 (in all events).”

        White said her problem on the vault was that she didn't go hard enough, causing her to slip on her dismount. She was in second place after the first rotation (floor) but fell to 12th after an 8.687 on the vault. She recovered on the uneven bars and beam.

        Though she has dug herself into a hole she didn't want to be anywhere near, White can recover Saturday if she doesn't dwell on the fall. Tracy describes White as “a fighter,” and she often thrives on long odds. But she's also extremely hard on herself and was visibly shaken after the competition Thursday.

        “I've got to let it go,” White said. “If I don't, it could really make me make more mistakes, and I can't afford them Saturday. Everybody makes mistakes, and I have to realize that. At least I came back strong.”

        Moceanu rolled her left ankle during her warm-up on her first event, the floor exercise. She said it stiffened as the night went on and could be a problem Saturday. But she was happy with her performance, which placed her about 1.5 points behind leader and Olympic favorite Kristen Maloney (38.262 to 36.737).

        Moceanu has been training only for about six months, so her routines aren't as difficult as others and therefore don't score as high. She finished the night with a 9.2 on beam, perhaps lower than she expected after a solid routine.

        “I did the best I possibly could for what I'm prepared to do,” she said. “I should be happy with it.”

        Maloney, Elise Ray and Chow were the top three in the all-around. Two-time Olympian Shannon Miller, bothered by a hairline fracture in her right leg, competed only on the bars and will not compete Saturday. She'll have to file a special petition to enter the Trials.

        Jaycie Phelps, a 1996 Olympian formerly of Cincinnati Gymnastics Academy and now training in Arizona, was 17th.

U.S. Gymnastics Championship results



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