While the rest of the University heads away from campus for the week, Penn gymnastics will be staying close to home over spring break.
After last weekend’s disappointing fourth-place finish at the Ivy League Championships, the Quakers will head to Temple for a tri-meet this Saturday before hosting Bridgeport for the team’s Senior Meet on March 12.
After narrowly edging out Brown for the 2015 Ivy title, the Red and Blue’s team score of 191.050 fell shy of the 193.325-mark shared by co-champions Brown and Cornell.
Fortunately for coach John Ceralde’s squad, the team’s season didn't end at the Ivy Classic. This upcoming week's meets at Temple and at home give the Quakers a few weeks to work out the kinks before competing in the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference Championship on March 19.
“We’ve got another opportunity to win a championship,” Ceralde said. “And the team knows that. And we’re going to try to take advantage of our opportunities.”
On Saturday, the hosts will be a familiar foe, as the Red and Blue have competed against the Owls once before this season. On Feb. 20, both teams headed to New Jersey to take on Ursinus and host Rutgers. In the quad-meet, Penn took second. The Quakers’ 192.400 score from that meet remains the best team mark of the year, and gave them a good deal of breathing room above Temple’s third-place finish and 191.625 points.
Also joining the Red and Blue at Temple will be Bridgeport, a novel opponent this year, but one they will see soon again. For Penn’s Senior Meet, the Purple Knights will head to the Palestra for just the second meet the Quakers have hosted this season.
Ceralde’s squad will have its work cut out for them as they look to send the seniors out with a bang. Bridgeport has won all three dual meets in which it has taken part this season, including wins over Cornell and Brown — the two programs who took home shares of the Ivy title less than a week ago.
The Purple Knights are no strangers to the Palestra. Just last year, they paid a visit to Philadelphia as Penn served as host for the USAG National Championship, finishing second behind Lindenwood.
Regardless of the outcomes of these two meets, however, they are primarily warm-ups for a bigger prize.
As ECACs loom, the Quakers look to improve upon last year’s fourth-place finish out of six teams, scoring 192.800 as a unit. If they can do that, it will be thanks in large part to leadership from their five seniors, including Elyse Shenberger — who claimed a share of the individual Ivy title on the uneven bars on Sunday.
In anticipation of the all-important ECACs, Ceralde will take the chance to let his stars cool down for a little while, a move designed to maximize their performance at the March 19 tournament.
“Actually this Temple one is going to be really nice because it is just right across the river,” Ceralde noted. “But it’s actually a recovery time for us now too, because of this past weekend.”
For now, however, Penn’s focus will be on the more immediate future — and the chance to compete at home one last time.
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