The Penn gymnastics team faces its biggest challenge of the season when it heads to New Haven this Saturday for the Ivy Championships. Though only Penn, Cornell and Brown will be joining host Yale, the meet figures to be intensely competitive among the four Ivy schools with gymnastics programs. "Any team could win this thing," Penn sophomore Meaghan Sanders said. "The way it's set up, [regular season] records are thrown out the window, and whoever comes up with the best all-around score is Ivy [champion]." The Quakers have already handily defeated Brown and Cornell in dual meets this season, topping their Ivy foes by 3.225 and 5.55 points, respectively. It is the Elis, however, that seem to be giving the Quakers fits. Early in the season and facing an injury-depleted Penn squad, Yale came into Hutchinson Gymnasium and dominated the Quakers, 190.450 to 186.625. "Yale pretty much beat the pants off of us," Sanders said. "It was an all-out spanking." Though Brown and Cornell have each been beaten by the Red and Blue this year, the Quakers expect both to be in the thick of things at the championships. "If they do awesome and we do poorly, anyone could win," Sanders said. "It's just going to come down to who hits." In all likelihood, the meet will probably come down to Yale and the Quakers. In addition to the early season blow dealt to Penn, the Elis generated a substantial amount of bulletin board material after their victory. "Deep down we knew that we were the better team," sophomore Andrea Wolf of Yale told the Yale Daily News after the victory. "Now they know it too. We're the team to beat." This type of comment only provides fodder for an already hungry Penn team. "We have such a big rivalry with Yale, especially after they beat us," Penn tri-captain Jenn Capasso said. "I think everyone wants this so bad. "We really want to go in there and show them what we're capable of." But despite Yale's stoking the Quakers' fire, the fact remains that the four-time defending Ivy champs have their work cut out for them. "It really comes down to who hits," Capasso reiterated. "The main thing that works in our favor is that we're usually able to really put it together and compete at our best for the championship meet." The Saturday meet figures to come down to the last event for both Yale and Penn. Due to the logistics of the rotation, the Quakers will be on the balance beam for the final event, which figures to work in the team's favor. "Historically, beam has been one of our strongest events," Capasso said, "and it looks like our best chance to make up ground on Yale." Yale, on the other hand, will finish on the vault, which is not their forte. Though the potentially hostile crowd and foreign equipment may hinder the Quakers, if Penn's gymnasts are able to hang in there through the bar, vault and floor exercises, they have a good chance of finishing strong on the beam and wrapping up their fifth consecutive Ivy title.Comments powered by Disqus
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