They’re going north.
Coming off of a strong first home meet, the Penn gymnastics team heads to Ithaca on Saturday to take on SUNY Cortland and Ivy League rival Cornell.
Perhaps the single most important dimensions of the season so far for the Quakers has been being mentally prepared for each meet. Each week, they want to stay consistent by controlling what aspects of the meet they can and making sure they do the little things right so that the big things can fall into place.
“We definitely don’t want to beat ourselves this weekend,” coach John Ceralde said. “We just want to focus on the minor details.”
In Cornell, the Quakers will face a formidable opponent. Aided by an influx of talented freshmen who immediately stepped into the lineup, the Big Red has topped 192 points in all three meets so far this year, setting a new school record. Cornell also set a new school record with a team score of 194.025 in the Lindsey Ferris Invitational, where they finished two spots ahead of Penn.
On the other hand, SUNY Cortland struggled out of the gate this season, posting a score in the low 180s in its first meet. But the Red Dragons have since recovered to post three consecutive meets of 186 points or higher. While Penn has not faced Cortland this year, Cornell defeated the team two weeks ago, 192.275-189.30.
With the Ivy Classic serving as a de facto conference championship in only a few meets, this matchup represents a big test for the Quakers. Facing Cornell for the second time this year gives Penn another opportunity to see how they will stack up, and whether it can compete for the Ancient Eight title.
“I think they’re ready for the test,” Ceralde said. “Just as long as we are moving in the right direction, we’ll be fine.”
The Red and Blue feel confident in their ability to contend over the next few weeks, and with good reason. Their strong team performance last Sunday, in which they topped 190 points for the second time this year, proved that Penn can hang around with other top teams in the conference. Furthermore, the varied lineup put out on Sunday and the successful debuts of several freshmen show that the team has depth throughout the roster.
Additionally, the Quakers have shown improvement in several areas that plagued them early on this season. Team scores on the bars and beam hit season highs last week, and the team opened up the meet strong, which is something that they have struggled to do so far. Even still, the team looks to improve wherever they can for the upcoming meet.
“We made some adjustments this week, and we’re looking forward to seeing the results this weekend,” Ceralde said.
This week marks a stretch of meets against quality programs for the Red and Blue, but it’s a stretch that they feel they are up to. If they can top Cornell this weekend, they will be in strong position for not just the Ivies, but the conference championship as well.
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