Despite chilly temperatures this week, things are starting to heat up for Penn’s gymnastics team.
Less than a week after opening its season in the nation’s capital, Penn has its next test when it travels to New Haven to take on Yale on Saturday in its first dual meet of the year.
The Quakers had an encouraging showing in their first meet, the Lindsey Ferris Invitational, with a team score of 190.625 and a fourth place finish out of five teams.
For the Red and Blue, the focus this week is the same as last week: continue to improve, work hard, and firm up the little things so that the big things can happen.
“We had a solid start, we just have to focus on minor details,” coach John Ceralde said. “We just have to build upon what we established in the first meet.”
In particular, the Quakers are looking to bolster their routines on the beam, which is where they faltered the most last week. The team opened the meet with a total score of 46.725 on the beam, which was its lowest team score, but Ceralde believes that this is not a cause for concern.
“We had a slow start on beam, but I felt that all we have to do is hit and we’ll be fine,” he said.
Penn faces a fairly young Yale team (0-1) that lost its first meet against New Hampshire by a score of 196.075 to 189.700. Yale placed third in the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference Championships last year, just above Penn. And although the Bulldogs graduated four seniors, they wield a weapon in last year’s ECAC Rookie of the Year recipient Anna Merkuryev.
Just like the Cornell and Temple teams Penn faced last week, Yale competes in the ECAC with the Red and Blue. Despite the fact that the Quakers are facing yet another familiar opponent, they are not fazed.
“It doesn’t really affect us at all,” Ceralde said. “It all really depends on how they prepare in the gym, and the idea is that we want to make sure that they’re able to perform the same way.”
This meet – the first of three dual meets for Penn this season – features a head-to-head matchup. The majority of the meets this year, however, are invitationals featuring several different teams. But the circumstances of the meets have little effect on how the team approaches them.
“Be it a dual meet or an invitational, we still have the same mindset,” Ceralde said.
While the gymnasts have to practice and improve their routines, much of the sport is mental, and they have to avoid psyching themselves out.
“It’s a lot of mental preparation,” Ceralde said. “Everyone already has all of the high level skills, we just need to put it together.”
Above all, the team just needs to perform up to its potential, which, given the early season indicators, seems pretty high. If the Red and Blue thrive again this weekend, they should be setting themselves up to succeed for the rest of the season.
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