For the Penn gymnastics team, some good, healthy competition is just what the doctor ordered.
On Saturday, the Quakers will travel to neighboring West Chester for their second dual meet of the season after beating Yale back on Jan. 27. With the team still fighting off injuries, several freshmen will have the chance to exhibit their skills at this meet for the first time since coming to Penn.
“This meet will be good to give some people a rest and give new people opportunities,” senior Megan Milavec said. “It will also be good for us to go in and get a huge score, see if we can be consistent, hit our routines and have a good meet to lead into our home meet the next week.”
Freshman Morgan Venuti will compete on the uneven bars and fellow rookie Amber Hu will be joining her once again for the Red and Blue. Thus far this season, Penn’s highest scores have been coming on the uneven bars. This should come as no surprise, as the event has been one of the Quakers’ strengths over the past few years.
In theory, beam should also be a strong event for the Quakers, but the team has had some trouble with consistency in meets this season.
“We are very strong on beam, we just need to be more consistent and hit our routines,” coach John Ceralde said.
Last weekend it was the falls on beam and their “domino effect” that really gave the team fits.
It is often on the beam where the nerves can get the best of a gymnast, as being off balance just a little bit can easily cause a fall. With each successive mistake, the nerves only magnify.
Previous ECAC Co-Rookie of the Week freshman Elyse Shenberger will be competing in the all-around for the first time this season. She, along with seniors Milavec and Kirsten Strausbaugh will be among the individual Quakers to watch this weekend, as they are hoping to further improve upon their strong performances from the past few weeks.
“There is a lot of leadership in our senior class,” Ceralde said.
The seniors serve not only as the backbone of the team but also as some of the best competitors. With senior Dana Bonincontri — a real asset to the team — injured from an accident sustained during her floor routine last weekend at Ball State, the rest of the team will really need to pull their weight.
“This meet should be a laid-back atmosphere and a good prep for our home meet,” Ceralde said.
Though the Quakers are excited to compete this weekend, next weekend’s senior meet at the Palestra against Bridgeport looms large.
But until then, a win over West Chester will be the perfect prescription for success.
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