YalePreview_Swirbalus

Junior Nicole Swirbalus is one of the Quakers who will be looking to improve upon last week's showing on the vault.

Credit: Zach Sheldon

You win some; you lose some. What matters is winning when it counts.

After finishing last out of four teams in its first meet of the season, the Lindsey Ferris Invitational, with a relatively low score of 190.375, Penn gymnastics (1-2, 0-1 Ivy) hopes to bounce back this upcoming weekend as it travels to New Haven to take on Yale. This meet is both teams' first one-on-one Ivy League matchup in 2018.

Last season, the Quakers managed to edge past Yale 193.275 to 192.125 in Philadelphia, only taking the lead after the final floor routine. This year, the Bulldogs look to exact some revenge on their home floor, but Penn is keeping an optimistic and determined mindset in its week of preparation.

“We just keep moving forward, and, if we make any mistakes, we learn from those mistakes,” coach John Ceralde said in terms of making adjustments following this past meet’s results.

“Last week wasn’t an accurate representation of all the hard work we’ve put in,” junior Nicole Swirbalus added. “Going into this week, everyone is extra motivated.”

Despite the disappointing start to the year, the team’s atmosphere seems to be filled with excitement and anticipation going into its matchup against Yale (2-1, 0-0).

“It’s a chance for us to get fired up about the upcoming championships,” Levi said. “We really figured out where our gaps are and what we have to do over the next couple of days.”

Ultimately, what happened this past weekend added fuel to the Quakers' motivational fire, and gymnastics is a game where the level of one’s motivation can make or break a meet.

“Whether you’re ranked first or last, you can win or lose,” senior and student assistant coach Emily Shugan stated.

This Penn squad certainly has the talent to make an impact this year, with 10 current gymnasts who went to the 2017 USAG Collegiate Nationals and two out of three of Penn’s USAG finalists returning as well.

Yale is heading into this weekend’s matchup coming off of an impressive showing where it came in second at a four-team meet at Rutgers, also featuring Illinois and Southern Connecticut State University. The Bulldogs topped the hosts and SCSU, but fell to Illinois with an overall score of 191.550 to 195.100.

The Quakers are poised to halt the Bulldogs’ momentum and do much more than that. Having already seen Cornell in action, and taking on Yale soon enough, Penn will only have Brown, the remaining Ivy League gymnastics program, in its sights. After an up-and-down 2017, ending in a last place finish at the Eastern College Athletic Conference Championship, Penn gymnastics dons a different mindset this year and has a chance to gain some confidence in Connecticut on Saturday. 

“We’re just trying to continue our winning traditions,” Ceralde said.

Penn certainly has the firepower this year to live up to its history, and this weekend’s results will tell whether or not the team is willing and able to fire its first shot.

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