Penn's seniors are looking to round out their careers with the Quakers with Ivy Classic perfection. As far as the 1990s go, the Penn Quakers could quite easily be called the Chicago Bulls of Ivy League gymnastics. Penn has won six Ivy Classic championships and accounts for five individual all-around meet champions. Unlike the Bulls, however, the Quakers have no intention of ending their dynastic hold on first place tomorrow at Cornell. In addition to heading into the meet with a solidly consistent and deep team, the Red and Blue will have one decided edge over the competition -- the only gymnasts who have experienced victory at the Classic will all be Quakers. "When we get to the meet on Saturday, there will only be fourteen people who know what it feels like to win a championship, and they're all on our team," Penn senior Kirby Thorpe said. The Quakers will be striving to break more records in what has already been a memorable season, with new records seemingly tied or broken at every meet. At this Ivy Classic, the team will be defending its unprecedented three consecutive championships, and the seniors want to finish up in record-breaking style. "This is it. For us, it's our last Ivy Classic, so we want to leave on top," Penn senior Becky Nadler said. The veterans of the team want to give the freshmen, as well as sophomore transfer Lauren Hittner, a taste of the winning Quakers tradition. "I'm looking forward to this meet for them because it's just a great, unique experience," Thorpe said. And Penn freshman Veena Abraham understands the history and importance of the meet as a culmination of the season. "I've basically been looking forward to this all season because it's what we've prepared ourselves for -- to go in and win," Abraham said. Penn coach Tom Kovic is confident in the Quakers' abilities and their potential to win, but he wants the team to understand the mentality of the rest of the Ivy League competition. "When we won our first championship [in 1991], we were a hungry team. I want my team to realize how good the other teams are and how hungry they are to win," Kovic said. Yale took home the only Ivy Classic championships of the past decade that did not belong to Penn, winning titles in '93, '95 and '96. In the two meets this season between the Ivy rivals, the Elis edged the Quakers by slim margins. "I want to focus on my team's execution, but to say there's no rivalry would be a lie," Kovic said. "I'm not interested in beating a particular team, however; we're going to beat them all." The battle for first place promises to be highly competitive, perhaps even more so than in recent years due to the strength of the current rosters of the four Ivy programs with gymnastics teams -- Penn, Yale, Cornell and Brown. In addition to falling twice to the Elis, Penn lost a dual meet to Cornell by less than half of a point and beat the Bears by almost three points earlier this season. "The teams are definitely evenly matched. All four teams have a chance. There are no clear favorites," Nadler said. The Quakers, however, will be the only team in the match to have faced each of the other Ivy foes in dual matches, which provides them with another advantage. No matter how much a team might work on its skills, there's no substitute for head-to-head experience. "We've seen everybody. I think that that's important because then we know [going into the Classic] what all the other teams have to offer," Kovic said. Despite the possible loss of Penn junior Kelly Haberer to what Kovic called a "fairly severe foot ligament sprain," the Quakers are not worried about Saturday. "We have the depth to win. It's about consistency under pressure," Penn captain Lizzie Jacobson said. The Quakers are looking to come home as the unprecedented four-time champions, and nothing else seems acceptable. "The focus is on us coming together and performing well. [We have] no excuses. We're going to win," Penn senior Joci Newman said. The Quakers hope that history will repeat itself tomorrow -- as it has for the past three years -- and that the championship trophy will be back at Penn.Comments powered by Disqus
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