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Gymnastics Kirsten Strausbaugh Credit: Patrick Hulce , Patrick Hulce, Patrick Hulce

This won’t be the first time a squad has crossed the Delaware River to invade New Jersey.

Though the team will be lacking the muskets of their predecessors, Penn gymnastics will be shooting for a similar result when they face off against Rutgers, Bridgeport and Ursinus in New Brunswick, N.J., on Saturday at 1 p.m.

Fresh off their best start in three years, the Quakers and reigning ECAC Gymnast of the Week Dana Bonincontri are looking to take it up a notch.

“[Last week’s] meet was kind of a learning experience. It was our highest score that we’ve started out with in past years … kind of was a reality check for some people,” senior Kirsten Strausbaugh said. “[This week] everyone is going to put in more numbers. They’re going to step up on their events and kinda show ’em how bad we want it.”

Strausbaugh herself stepped up in a big way during Penn’s match against Rutgers last year, tallying a second-place score of 38.700 en route to a 191.975-191.925 Quakers victory.

Rutgers’ defeat was its first in six matchups against the Red and Blue — one they surely haven’t forgotten. The Scarlet Knights are coming off of a 193.9-point performance at home and will be a formidable opponent for a Penn squad with high expectations.

“We are hoping to put up a strong competition against Bridgeport and Rutgers,” Strausbaugh said. “They are two pretty good teams. We should be right up there with them.”

Fellow ECAC foe Bridgeport won its only match of the year handily, posting a 191.45 a week ago. Like Penn, the Purple Knights also beat Rutgers in their last meeting, downing their medieval foe in a high-scoring affair, 193.875-192.400.

For his part, coach John Ceralde is keeping the focus on what his team can control.

“I don’t really worry about the other teams,” Ceralde said. “We pretty much just focus on ourselves, what we can do best and just try to keep it consistent from there.”

With consistency in mind, Ceralde is looking to get some of the newer additions to the team some valuable experience that will help them down the road.

“We still have some freshmen that have not been tested yet,” he said. “We’re looking to see some of them in exhibition.”

The seventh-year coach has made it clear that while he believes firmly in the potential his group has, he keeps things in perspective and measures success as improvement from one meet to the next.

It’s safe to say that he’d be OK with a win Saturday too.


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