Back on the last weekend of February, Penn gymnastics had a chance to defend its Ivy Classic Title. But fate would not be in the Quakers favor, and the team would come in at fourth behind Cornell, Brown and Yale.
Despite the disappointment, Penn has a shot at redemption this weekend at the ECAC Meet, the team’s final collective hurrah before the 2015-16 season draws to a close.
“This is our Ivy rematch so we’re excited to go in and show everybody what we’ve been working on in the gym,” senior captain Emily Paterson said. “Everybody is pretty motivated and excited.”
Since scoring 191.050 points at the Ivy Classic three weeks ago, the Quakers have been busy, going through grueling practices daily and competing in two meets. In both, Penn improved upon its score, tallying 191.900 points against Temple and Bridgeport and 191.850 against Bridgeport again.
In each of those meets, Penn has looked strong through three apparatuses, but faltered on the fourth. Looking ahead to this weekend’s ECAC Meet, coach John Ceralde’s team has one buzzword on its lips: consistency.
“We’re just focusing on our highlights on all of our events and working towards putting it all together,” Ceralde said.
Given the cumulative nature of scoring, gymnastics can be particularly unforgiving in high-stakes competition scenarios where teams are evenly matched. One small wiggle on beam or botched landing can be enough to set teams apart — and sometime be the difference between winning it all or going home empty handed.
“It’s really about everybody hitting at once,” captain Amber Hu said. “In previous meets we’ve done really well in three out of four events and then there’s been one that hasn’t gone as well.”
With stiff competition ahead this weekend, the Quakers can rely on its strength on floor. At the Ivy Classic in 2015, Penn’s highest event score came, not surprisingly, on floor with 48.950 points.
“Floor has definitely been a highlight for us this year,” captain Emily Paterson said. Indeed, even though Penn did not defend its Ivy Classic title, its highest event score was a 48.025 on floor.
“We’re looking forward to putting it all together this meet,” she added.
At the Ivy Classic, the uneven bars were a highlight for the Quakers thanks to senior Elyse Shenberger’s score of 9.850. The Hummelstown, Pa., native’s performance earned her a share of the individual Ivy title on bars — Penn’s only individual title of the meet.
By the numbers, pulling off a win against the three other Ivy League schools competing at ECAC’s will be a tall task. Penn’s season-best score of 192.400 from the quad-meet with Rutgers, Temple and Ursinus the week before the Ivy Classic is still 0.925 points short of the 193.325 scored by co-champions Brown and Cornell.
Although that gap may seem daunting, the Quakers are more than capable of hitting that mark. If each of Penn’s season best scores from each of its events are compiled, they are capable of scoring 193.125 points. Achieving that mark means Ceralde’s gymnasts will need to be close to perfect on all of their events.
And if the work that Ceralde’s team has put in over the past three weeks pays off, Cornell, Brown and Yale shouldn’t be surprised if there’s a new leader among the Ancient Eight schools at ECACs.
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