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For the Penn gymnastics team, Saturday's ECAC Championships at the Palestra was one of the best meets of the season. The Quakers scored a second-place team finish, had two individual champions and earned two ECAC awards. Earning a score of 190.675, the Quakers finished only 1.175 points behind champion James Madison, much better than their No. 4 seed heading into the meet. "It was a good, solid meet," Penn coach Tom Kovic said. "James Madison did a nice job and deserved to win the championship." However, nothing impressed Kovic more than the collective performance of his team. "They truly gave their best effort -- they never gave in and never let down," Kovic said. "To finish with that score is a great way to go out." Penn sophomore and DP photographer Lauren Hittner was crowned the ECAC all-around champion with a score of 38.600 and then was later named Co-ECAC Athlete of the Year, along with James Madison's Betsy Hernandez. "Lauren had a brilliant day. She went in and hit four-for-four. She's a worthy regional contender and she proved that Saturday," Kovic said. The balance beam title was captured by Penn senior Becky Nadler, adding to her 1998 ECAC floor exercise and 1997 balance beam championships. En route to her title, she broke Penn's balance beam record -- which fell three times Saturday alone -- with an outstanding score of 9.950. "It was great to win beam and set a new record. It was just like my freshman year. I gave it everything I had and don't have any regrets," Nadler said. The Quakers' beam team established a new school record for the event, with a 49.125. That point total was also the highest among all teams in any event. "To say balance beam was our strongest event is an understatement," Kovic said. "Beam was our last event and we went into the rotation behind James Madison and William and Mary. Not only did they have enough energy and focus to do well, but to perform in record-breaking style speaks volumes." Penn senior Kirby Thorpe was awarded the ECAC Scholar Athlete of the year award, capping off a solid performance in the last meet of her career. "It sounds cheesy, but as I was flying through the air on my dismount [on uneven bars] knowing that it was the last time I'd ever be doing that, it felt damn good to know that I had just done exactly what was expected of me from the rest of my team," Thorpe said. Collectively, five personal-best scores were earned by Penn senior Joci Newman, junior Jenn Capasso and sophomore Jean Troast. For Newman and Capasso especially, the feats marked triumph over adversity. "It was a great meet, my last meet, and I couldn't ask to go out on a better note, my beam routine and making my [personal best score in] vault," Newman said. Capasso returned from a hyper-extended knee suffered during the Quakers' dual meet with Wilson, which kept her sidelined during the Wolfpack Invitational on March 11. "Not only did we get her back into the all-around, but she really stepped up for us in all of the events and scored personal bests in the uneven bars, balance beam and all-around. It was just great," Kovic said. Perhaps the biggest disappointment of the meet was the absence from the lineup of Penn captain Lizzie Jacobson, who was out with food poisoning. She was still at the Palestra, however, to cheer the Quakers on. "I am so proud of everyone. We pulled together as a team and made this really count," Jacobson said. The Red and Blue's performance was typical of their season, with a solid overall team score, broken school records and new personal bests.

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