Gymnastics repeats as Ivy champs


Gymnastics | Dana Bonincontri’s career day boosts Penn to back-to-back Ivy Classic wins




On Saturday, with all of Quaker Nation watching them, Zack Rosen and Penn’s basketball team took a large step toward winning their first Ivy title since 2007. The following day, Penn’s gymnastics squad inconspicuously clinched its second straight league title.

Sunday afternoon in Ithaca, N.Y., Penn won the Ivy Classic with a score of 192.65, beating out Cornell (191.875), Brown (191.075) and Yale (190.725). With the win, the Quakers clinched their first back-to-back Ivy Classic championships since they repeated four times over the 1997-2000 seasons.

Penn’s 192.65 marks the third consecutive meet at which it has topped the 192 threshold, and is the Red and Blue’s second best performance this season — before this year, the Quakers hadn’t achieved that score since the 2006-7 season.

Penn had competed against the Big Red just the previous week at the Shelli Calloway Memorial Invitational in Towson, Md. Despite improving their score by nearly three full points and topping their old season-high score, the Big Red failed to match the Quakers’ performance Sunday.

On the way to defending their Ivy Classic title, the Red and Blue rewrote their program’s record book.

After completing the beam and floor exercises, the Quakers found themselves in second place. But Penn absolutely dominated the final two exercises, executing the program’s second best team vault performance ever with a 48.4, and recording Penn’s third-best uneven bars score of all time, 48.7.

Many Penn gymnasts had exceptional days, but junior Dana Bonincontri was the most brilliant athlete at the meet. Bonincontri earned a 9.9 on the uneven bars, tying her for the third-best bars performance in Penn gymnastics history. Bonincontri also earned a 39.1 in the all-around, a personal best, which also ties her for third-best all-around in the program’s history.

Bonincontri wasn’t the only outstanding Penn gymnast on Sunday. Four of the top five all-around scores were set by the Quakers. Junior Kirsten Strausbaugh placed second in the all-around, with a 38.8, while freshman Amber Woo (38.55) and junior Megan Milavec (38.45) set season highs. Milavec set career highs for herself on both the bars and the vault.

The Quakers will face Yale again in a four-team meet in Towson after spring break. If the Red and Blue continue to perform as they have, it would take an exceptional outing by the Bulldogs to place ahead of Penn.

While nothing is set in stone, Penn’s gymnasts have been quite consistent this season. And if that continues, they would be well on their way to their best season in nearly a decade.

For now, Penn gymnastics is quietly hanging championship banners in Hutchinson Gym. But if it continues to perform as it has been, it just might fight its way into the spotlight.

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