GymnasticsPreview_Nelson

Coming off a team-high all-around performance against Yale, freshman Darby Nelson has impressed ahead of the final home meet of the regular season. 

Credit: Carson Kahoe

It is a particularly significant meet for the seniors, and they will definitely be gunning for a win. 

This Sunday, Penn gymnastics will face Temple, Bridgeport, and Ursinus in a home meet at the Palestra. Since it is the Quakers' senior meet, the team will honor the contributions of the team’s seniors in a pre-meet ceremony. 

“For us to be able to honor them is really important because they are the ones who are leaders and we look up to them a lot," freshman Darby Nelson said. "It’s our chance to show our appreciation for everything they do."

After defeating defending Ivy league champion Cornell this past weekend with a season-high score of 192.675, Penn (2-4, 2-1 ECAC) is motivated to keep the success going, having improved its overall score in every meet this season.

However, Bridgeport (5-0, 1-0 ECAC D-II) also recently earned a major win, defeating Brown and Rhode Island with a season-high score of 194.350 — one that, despite the Knights' Division II status, is actually more than a full point better than any Ivy League school has done this season.

Beyond Bridgeport, Philadelphia rival Temple (9-3, 2-0 ECAC) has also proven to be tough competition, with a season-high of 194.875. While Penn has continued to struggle in vault and bars, Temple sophomore Jaylene Everett earned her career high vault score of 9.825 and floor score of 9.875 this season. 

Penn will be looking to senior Ally Podsednik, who earned Penn’s highest vault score of the season so far with a 9.750 at Yale, to compete with Temple’s consistency in vault. 

Despite Ursinus’ (0-8, 0-2 National Collegiate Gymnastics Association East) winless record, the team showed significant improvement and earned its highest score of the season at Towson two weeks ago. But at this meet, Ursinus lost to Yale by close to five points, while Penn has already beaten Yale this season. 

Though the D-III Ursinus squad will be a heavy underdog this weekend, it has shown glimpses of potential, especially considering the team’s achievements in floor.

Focusing on themselves, though, the younger gymnasts on Penn’s team continue to prove their potential. Freshman Darcy Matsuda earned the individual win on the beam against Cornell, scoring a career high of 9.850 and earning ECAC Specialist of the Week in the process. Nelson earned the team’s highest overall score of the season with 38.275 against Yale. 

“I don’t really think about myself. I try to do everything I can to help the team in any way that I can. Everything I do is for them,” Nelson said. 

If these freshmen can continue to compete at this level, Penn should have a fighting chance this Sunday. With the steady improvement that the team has shown, senior day could very well be one of the best days for the team’s seniors. 

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