rachelgraham

Senior Rachel Graham couldn't do enough to help her team overcome a slow start in Penn's upset loss to West Chester.

Photo: Ilana Wurman / The Daily Pennsylvanian

After a string of strong showings to start the season, Penn women’s gymnastics took a unexpected, tough loss to Division II West Chester on Saturday by a score of 193.400 to 189.350.

“It wasn’t our best performance,” flatly stated sophomore Morgan Hunker. “We kind of started out slow and it was really hard to pick it back up.”

Slow the Quakers (3-2, 2-0 Ivy) indeed started. The bars came first, and, apart from junior Kyra Levi’s 9.725 and freshman Emma Cullen’s 9.450, the team struggled mightily to put up high scores. This resulted in the team scoring a 46.325 — more than two points lower than the bars result in last week’s thrilling victory over Yale — and handed West Chester (4-3, 0-0 ECAC D-II) a early lead.

“We made some mistakes we don’t usually make,” said senior captain Rachel Graham of the team’s uncharacteristically rough start.

The frustration carried over to the vault, where the Quakers scored a 46.375. Hunker and Cullen had the top performances, but by the end of this event, the Golden Rams had a comfortable three-point lead. The floor and beam events went better for the Red and Blue, as the team scored a 48.800 and a 47.850 on them respectively, but they could not surmount the deficit.

“We ended the meet on two decent events, but not our best. It was good to see us not completely fall apart, when it definitely could have gone the other way,” said Hunker.

The Quakers came into this meet riding an impressive wave of momentum after a historically great performance against Yale. After accumulating an impressive resume against “big teams” such as George Washington and North Carolina, the team felt confident coming up against a relatively “smaller school,” as Hunker put it.

They had pretty good reason to be.

West Chester was trending in the exact opposite direction compared to the Quakers. The Golden Rams started off their season with three consecutive victories, but promptly followed that with three consecutive losses, and their seasonal best score of 191.050 entering the meet was nearly three points shy of Penn’s mark set against Yale.

All that considered, this result stung hard for the Red and Blue.

“After the meet, we were all just like ‘we never want to feel this way again’,” Hunker said. “Maybe it’s good to get a meet like this at the beginning of the season rather than in the post season.”

Graham was not as quite as discouraged by the result as Hunker was, as she highlighted the team’s resilience.

“In general, we had a really strong fight and we finished really strong, which is definitely a confidence booster,” she said. “We’re just really looking forward to getting back in the gym on Monday.”

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