rachelgraham

Then-junior Rachel Graham represented the Quakers in the finals of the National Championship meet last season.

Photo: Ilana Wurman / The Daily Pennsylvanian

Overall, the 2015-2016 season was one of improvement for Penn gymnastics.

Starting the season with a score of 190.625 at the Lindsey Ferris Invitational, the Red and Blue finished the ECAC Championships with a team score of 193.050.

But on the road in between these destinations, the Quakers’ campaign was a mix of successes and shortcomings. While Penn had a consistent showing on the floor throughout the year, they underperformed at various meets throughout their season.

At the annual Ivy Classic, senior Elyse Shenberger earned a share of the Ivy title on bars, which was Penn’s only individual title of the meet. Only three Ivy schools besides Penn have varsity gymnastics teams (Cornell, Yale, and Brown), so the team’s last place finish was disappointing considering Penn entered the year as the team to beat after clinching the Ivy Championship in 2015.

Despite the disappointment at the Ivy Classic, Penn did send ten gymnasts (five seniors and five underclassmen) to St. Louis, Missouri to compete at the USA Gymnastics Women’s Collegiate National Championship. As the top-placing gymnast from Penn, then-junior Rachel Graham competed on the floor in the finals, but the Quakers failed to qualify for the team finals.

Still, the general mood of the gymnasts about last season seems to be one of optimism.

“I don’t think any of us walked away with any regrets from last year. We really grew as a team, and we kind of found that everyone could adopt a bunch of different roles that we didn’t know we had before,” junior captain Kyra Levi said. “The inter-class relationships became stronger, and the coaching staff really grew to know how to work with us individually and as a team.”

And the growth from last year has shown this season.

The team has already started this season with a second-place finish at the 10th annual Lindsey Ferris Invitational. With a score of 193.275, the Quakers have already topped last year’s season best score, setting a high benchmark for the rest of the upcoming year.

“I think just overall it served as a huge motivation for everyone ... (to come) into this year with such a strong team,” junior Ally Podsednik said.

In the past six years, the Quakers have taken home three Ivy Classic titles — and with the fuel of last year’s results pushing them, the gymnasts at Rockwell Gymnasium are dead set to get back on this trend.

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