Facing stiff competition, Penn gymnastics took it up a notch in its first and only home meet of the year.
Against Bridgeport and former Olympian Monica Mesalles Sallare, Penn narrowly fell 195.325-193.975 at the Palestra despite posting its fourth-highest overall score in program history.
In fact, the Quakers turned in season highs in each event. Seniors Kirsten Strausbaugh (38.925) and Megan Milavec (38.350) along with freshman Elyse Shenberger (38.150) all performed brilliantly for a team that started the day without senior stalwart Dana Bonincontri, who is still nursing an injury.
“Our main goal is to stay consistent and to just keep improving with every meet.” coach John Ceralde said. “Even though our best kid is injured, our underclassmen really stepped up.”
Starting out on vault, the Red and Blue posted a season-high 48.275, led by freshmen Emily Paterson (9.700) and Carissa Lim (9.675). The Quakers also got contributions from sophomore Wynne Levy (9.650) as well as the veteran Strausbaugh (9.675).
Keeping the momentum, Penn posted another season-high on bars thanks to solid performances from freshman Amber Hu (9.775), as well as the aforementioned Shenberger (9.800), Strausbaugh (9.750), and Milavec (9.700).
Milavec benefited from competing in the Palestra. “It’s really nice with home meets that we get to have the entire team here,” she said. “I know personally I love having my teammates cheer me on and having them stand around the floor.”
Beam got off to an auspicious start, with a fall which left no margin for error. However the next five gymnasts all came through in the clutch en route to a season high of 48.500. In particular, this event featured the return of junior Keolamau Yee from injury — and she did not disappoint, delivering a much needed 9.700.
Saving the best for last, sophomores Kaitlyn Reszkowski, Milavec and Shenberger all posted 9.775 on the floor, only to be outdone by Strausbaugh, who tied a career high with a 9.875.
Strausburgh was pleased with the momentum which the meet should give the team heading into next Saturday’s Ivy Classic.
“This is a great way to go into Ivies, we haven’t had the man home meets because of the renovations, the freshman don’t [get to] see the energy and big crowds,” she said.
It was the squad’s consistency that stood out to Strausburgh the most, as eight gymnasts set or tied their career highs.
“We didn’t have 9.8, 9.9’s all across the board, but we showed we can go a 9.6 to a 9.8 every girl up,” Strausburgh said. “That’s what it’s all about.”
Ceralde echoed his seniors’ sentiments.
“The idea you saw on our banner, 24 for 24 [gymnasts], our goal is for everyone to hit,” he said. “If we go 194 or higher our group will be happy campers.”
And if the Quakers go 194 or higher at the Ivy Classic next week, they’re going to need to be fitted for a third Ivy championship ring in as many years.
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