Though the Penn gymnastics team posted its best score at the Lindsey Ferris Invitational ever in its third visit on Sunday, it didn’t matter much in the final results .
After finishing third last year with an overall score of 189.025, Penn finished 4th this year at the George Washington University in Washington D.C., despite a final score of 189.575, their highest to date at the annual competition.
It was an intriguing start for a team with high aspirations and serious NCAA tournament hopes.
The Quakers were challenged from the start, having to begin their day on the beam — typically the most difficult event to start on, but one in which coach John Ceralde expects his team to improve this season.
Penn did not disappoint, finishing with a composite 47.975 despite falls from the usually consistent seniors Kirsten Strausbaugh and Dana Bonicontri, with the former working on a new skill which she hopes will pay dividends in the long run.
After two rotations, the Quakers were in second place, but struggled on the vault and bars despite a first place finish from Bonicontri on the latter.
At both events the Red and Blue were able to finish with three strong performances of 9.525 or better but couldn’t come up with the five necessary to reach a solid team score.
As Ceralde put it, the team “just couldn’t put it all together today.” Overall, though, he was impressed with his squad’s performance to kick off the season.
“We had a 189, can’t ask for more than that.”
Freshman Elyse Shenberger impressed in her collegiate debut, posting a 6th place 9.725 on the beam and a solid 9.5 on the floor. Senior Megan Milavec also chipped in with a 9.75 on the on the beam and finished 8th overall with a 36.650.
Despite having off days by their standards, Bonicontri and Strausbaugh ended up fourth (by a score of 38.55) and fifth (38), respectively, flashing the skills that made them NCAA regional qualifiers last year.
The Quakers will head to Rutgers’ campus in New Brunswick, N.J. next Saturday to face the host Scarlet Knights, Bridgeport and Ursinus.