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The Penn gymnastics team is starting its season on a high note, led by the impressive collegiate debuts of its freshmen at the Lindsey Ferris Invitational Sunday in Washington, D.C.

With a score of 189.025, the Red and Blue finished third overall, beating out Temple, William & Mary and Cornell, 2011’s ECAC Champions.

Amanda Schlaefer placed seventh in vault with a score of 9.7 and eighth on the beam with a score of 9.650. Amber Woo scored 9.525 on vault and 9.150 on bars. Wynne Levy placed eleventh in vault with a score of 9.650. Makeda Constable scored 9.475 on bars, placing her seventeenth overall.

“The freshmen did pretty well comparatively,” coach John Ceralde said. “They were pretty close to where I was expecting. We had some problem areas, but we were able to overcome them at the end.”

The learning curve is sharp for the freshman who have to learn to deal with shortened holidays, a nonexistent spring break and missing Spring Fling. But they aren’t bothered by it one bit.

“[We give up] our schoolwork, our social lives,” junior captain Kristin Hughes said. “We give up a lot of things to be here, but at the end of the day it’s worth it.”

According to captain junior Kirsten Strausbaugh, however, being a college gymnast is easier than what the girls were accustomed to before Penn.

“Coming from high school, every single person here worked out 25 hours a week.”

Another factor that makes the sport seem less demanding for the team is the encouragement they receive from one another. Composed of 24 girls, nine of whom are freshmen, the team is a tight-knit community of its own.

“The team is great,” says Hughes, who competes on the uneven bars. “I live with five other girls on the team and we’re always together. It’s a good support system.”

“They know exactly what your schedule is and how hard it is to balance school and gym and find a relaxing time for yourself,” Strausbaugh added.

Despite their apparent kinship, a competitive air still exists amongst the girls. The large addition of members from the class of 2015 has contributed to the rivalry.

“It raises the level for everyone, because now we have all these freshmen who potentially want to be in line-ups,” Hughes said. “It encourages everyone to work to keep their spot in the lineup because they know there’s someone right there who’s just as good who wants it just as badly. It’s elevated the entire team to a higher level.”

The team’s motto this year is ‘Bringing Out the Big Guns.’ The Quakers get another chance to show how heavily armed they are Friday at 7 p.m. in Hutchinson Gymnasium, where they will host the Rutgers Knights.

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