Several small steps off the beam, but one step forward for Penn gymnastics. Over the weekend, there were a number of mixed messages from the Quakers’ gymnastics squad.
On Saturday, Penn fell to Illinois State, 190.4 – 187.9, in their first non-exhibition meet in the renovated Hutchinson Gymnasium.
Illinois State came away from the first event — which saw Penn on vault and the Redbirds on uneven bars — with a quick 1.1-point lead.
The Red and Blue would narrow the gap during the second event with an impressive showing on bars, during which senior captain Diana Moock recorded a career-best 9.65, but were plagued by inconsistencies later in the second half of the meet.
While freshman Kelley Tan notched the seconded highest beam score of all gymnasts on the day with a solid 9.75, the five other Penn beam gymnasts would fall during their routines, conceding an insurmountable two-plus point gap heading into the final event.
“We came off a really awesome bar set … I think we were excited to go to beam,” Moock said. “But all in all, we’ll go back in the gym … I think with confidence, we’ll hit beam no problem,” she added.
Saturday’s meet made a couple of things clear. This isn’t the Penn gymnastics team that’s won two consecutive ECAC championships — the same squad that hadn’t scored less than 189 or gone two straight meets without breaking 190 since 2011.
But that doesn’t bother coach John Ceralde at this point in the season.
“Right now, I’m not really worried about the scores, but I’m just looking to be consistent and just get better every meet,” Ceralde said.
But the dual meet also demonstrated that this isn’t the team that competed at the George Washington Invitational and notched a 183.125 just six days prior. In fact, no Penn squad has achieved that large of a score improvement since 2009.
Asked about that drastic development, Tan shrugged it off.
“[It’s] just focusing on the little things,” she said.
Both Ceralde and Tan’s points are well-taken. Penn will look to shore itself up on beam as the season progresses, and it will also try to address other technical aspects, especially as far as solidly sticking more of their vault routines.
But if this young squad, boasting just three seniors, can manage to work out kinks in its performances as quickly as it did over the past week, it’ll be a potent team.
“I think at the end of the season, we’re really going to surprise ourselves,” Moock said.