In their first home meet of the season, Penn gymnastics came within three-tenths of defeating West Chester, falling by a score of 190.875-190.600. The Quakers finished ahead of Centenary, who totaled a score of 186.350.
The contest, which was originally scheduled to be a dual meet with Centenary, was changed to a tri-meet as one of West Chester’s early competitions this season was cancelled due to snow.
Despite not walking away with a first-place finish, the Red and Blue had a very successful day. In front of a packed crowd in Rockwell Gymnasium, the team broke the 190-point barrier for the second time this season, falling just .025 points shy of its season high.
“We put up a good fight, we definitely finished strong, but we still just need to work on a couple things,” coach John Ceralde said.
While the team approaches every meet the same, the fact that this meet was the first home meet of the season seemed to provide the gymnasts with a little extra energy and enthusiasm.
“It was our third meet of the season, and being at home helps. The girls were pretty excited to be back home and compete,” Ceralde said.
So far this season, the Quakers have struggled out of the gates at each of their competitions, posting their lowest event scores on the first event. However, this was not the case on Sunday, as the Quakers began the day on the vault with a solid team score of 47.500. Sophomore Ally Podsednik led the way for the the Red and Blue, earning third place in the event with a score of 9.650.
“It’s always good to start off on the right foot, it was a strong showing and we did well,” Ceralde said.
Penn also saw a sizable improvement in their scores on the beam. The team total on the beam was 47.750, and several gymnasts improved upon their scores from previous meets. Juniors Kelly Tan and Rachel Graham both tallied scores of 9.775, which was good enough for two second-place finishes and a new personal record for Tan in the event.
“I think all of it was definitely an improvement, everyone is just trying to keep that great attitude, stay in the moment, and focus on each skill one at a time, and they did that,” Graham said.
The team also set a new season high on the uneven bars with a team score of 47.325. Sophomore Kyra Levi and senior Morgan Venuti finished second and third in the event with scores of 9.725 and 9.650, respectively.
The last event for the Quakers was the floor, where they continued to post their best event scores. The team received a total event score of 48.025, and Levi took home second place in the event with a 9.750.
Furthermore, several freshmen stepped into the lineup and performed well, a strong indicator of success to come. In addition to Morgan Hunker, who has been in the lineup for all three meets, Alberta Massey and Nicole Swiribalus were in the lineup made their debuts at the meet. Massey earned a 9.350 on the vault while Swiribalus received a 9.55 on the bars.
“The idea was just to get them some experience, and they stepped up, and we’re pretty excited about their future,” Ceralde said.
Graham agreed with Ceralde’s sentiment.
“It’s great to see the new blood coming in and stepping up for sure, and we just want to see that keep going,” she added.
With several important weeks on the schedule in the next few weeks, the Quakers strong effort on Sunday is a promising sign for positive things to come. As long as the team remains consistent, they should be in good position to defend their Ivy League title and contend for the conference championship.
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