The Quakers hope that home-gum advantage will help in their season finale. On Saturday, the Penn men's basketball team clinched the Ivy League title at the Palestra. Three days later, the team defeated Princeton for the first time there since 1996. The Penn gymnastics team is ready to put on a show of its own at the historic gym. On March 18, the Quakers will try to end their season with a title of their own -- the ECAC Championship -- and they know it's their turn to benefit from that storied Palestra magic. "It sounds clichZ, but it's just a special place," Penn captain Lizzie Jacobson said. Hosting the event will clearly give Penn an edge -- if not because of the familiarity of their home equipment, then at least because of the supportive home base and the elimination of tiring travel. "I'm terribly excited about hosting the ECACs," Penn coach Tom Kovic said. "We've got our sights set on winning." As it is the final meet of the season, and for the seniors the last of their Penn careers, the Quakers know that the stakes are higher here than at any other meet. "It's definitely the culmination of the season," junior Sarah Bruscia said. "We're looking forward to really hitting routines and winning." Winning the ECACs is the one goal the Red and Blue have been striving toward all season long. "As Tom says, this is the big picture," Penn senior Joci Newman said. With the Ivy Classic title under their belts, the Quakers feel that at the very least they have an advantage against the Ivy teams they defeated in February. "Winning Ivies let other teams know the the losses earlier in the season [to Yale and Cornell] were flukes," Bruscia added. "It boosted our confidence and changed other teams' perceptions of us." Providing additional motivation for the Quakers is their disappointing fourth-place finish at last year's ECACs at Vermont. "Last year's [meet] was a rough meet because we traveled a lot before ECACs," senior Becky Nadler said. "We're looking forward to redeeming ourselves." The Quakers can see no acceptable excuses for a poor showing this year. "We're going to hit 24-for-24," Newman said. "We're at a point where we're mentally ready for competition." The seniors and juniors know the experience of an ECAC championship, winning their last title in 1998. This year, they are looking forward to showing the younger Quakers the taste of victory, and the newcomers are definitely excited about it. "I've never been to this type of a competition before," Penn freshman Veena Abraham said. "The freshmen really want to contribute to the team effort and turn in solid scores." For now, though, the Quakers are concentrating on getting healthy, as health is one unpredictable factor that may adversely affect their performance at the meet. Junior Jenn Capasso is still day-to-day with a hyperextended knee, an injury sustained at last weekend's meet against Wilson College while landing on her second vault. "She could be back in the lineup by ECACs, but I don't want to rush her and make her injury more severe," Kovic said. Junior Kelly Haberer will only compete on bars because of a ligament injury in her foot. Sophomore Sarah Tudryn, meanwhile, will definitely return from a bout with the flu that kept her out of the meet with Wilson. "We need to get the lineup together, get everyone healthy and ready to compete," Nadler said. Heading into the meet, the Quakers are seeded second in a field of seven, placing them behind James Madison but ahead of Ivy rival Yale. "The ECAC competition is wonderfully tight," Kovic said. "Every team has a clean slate at the meet, meaning that anyone can win." Still, the Quakers are expecting to take back the championship trophy. "We have a consistent season behind us with a meet at home, on our territory, with our fans," Jacobson said.Comments powered by Disqus
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