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Juliana Mariani and the Penn women's gymnastics team look to rebound after the Quakers' fourth-place finish last Sunday at the George Washington Invite. The Red and Blue meet Yale on Saturday. (Andrew Margolies/The Daily Pennsylvanian)

After 25 years of existence, the Penn women's gymnastics team has seen a number of new faces over the last few weeks. Due to a bunch of injuries and illnesses, some of the team's freshmen and less-experienced gymnasts have been forced to step up to the mat. Penn coach Tom Kovic -- who has been with the Red and Blue for 14 of its 25 years -- is not concerned. "We are simply banged up like most of the other teams at this point. It is an inherent part of the sport," Kovic said. "Everyone has been stepping up. The girls understand that we have gaps to fill and they are working very hard." The Quakers started out the season with an impressive victory over Ivy League foe Cornell. In the meet, a number of freshmen performed well and helped Penn record a victory. One such freshman was Sarena Syma, who was named ECAC Rookie of the Week after her performance against the Big Red. Unfortunately, Syma's promising season may have been cut short after she badly injured her knee last Friday. But Syma -- and the rest of the Quakers -- remain optimistic. "Sarena will weather this injury like any other roadblock," Kovic said. "She will persevere." Penn had a roadblock of its own to weather after finishing a disappointing fourth in the George Washington Invitational on Sunday. But Penn's competitors included such top-ranked schools as North Carolina State and George Washington. "It is good to be in a competitive situation like that," Kovic said. "It is better to get the bugs out early. We used the competition as a benchmark to help us prepare for Yale." It was business as usual this week as the Red and Blue prepare for Saturday's meet against the Elis. "We had a very strong week of training," Kovic said. "We are trying to move the injured girls slowly and carefully back into the lineup." This weekend's meet will be a special one for the Quakers for a number of reasons. Not only is it the Penn gymnastics homecoming, but it also marks the 25th anniversary of the program. And there is no better way to celebrate the historic day than a Penn-Yale matchup. Once a constant leader in Ivy League gymnastics, Yale comes to Philadelphia to face the new top dogs in the Ancient Eight. Penn may have seven Ivy League championships under its belt, but Yale is still a top contender in the race for the league crown. "This weekend should be a great competition -- Yale and Penn have a long and fantastic rivalry," Kovic said. "This competition will give us an idea of where we stand in the league and can dictate what the Ivy League championship is going to look like."

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