With only days left to polish its routines, Penn gymnastics edges closer to yet another intense weekend of high-stakes competition.
The Red and Blue will take to Piscataway, N.J. to show they judges how they balance out against Rutgers, Maryland and Ivy League rival Yale. The event will mark the team’s third quad meet of the season and will be a chance to prove to itself and its opponents that its fundamentals are sound as a beam and its ability to execute is not up for debate.
The Red and Blue gymnasts, like any other accomplished group of athletes here at Penn, recognize that the joint pursuit of excellence involves patience and consistent dedication.
“We’re on the way to where we want to be by our championship season,” junior captain Kyra Levi said. “We’re climbing the ladder that every team has to climb. It’s just a matter of continuing strong practices and before we know it, we’ll be peaking at the right point in season.”
“One competition at a time” is always an effective method of performance focus, but this distinctly driven troupe of tumblers never loses sight of the new heights they’ve been leaping for all season and, for some, the past several years.
“Looking ahead, we just need to focus on being mentally strong. At this point in the season, everyone knows how to do their skills and the main focus is going to be executing under pressure at every meet,” said sophomore captain Caroline Moore. “The team mentality for this weekend is to focus on being consistent in all 24 routines. We’re just trying to build off of our past couple of meets.”
So far this season, the Quakers (3-5, 2-1 Ivy) have seen ups and downs in both quad meets and dual competitions under the leadership of head coach John Ceralde and assistants Kirsten Strausbaugh and Brittney Williams, but have struggled to capture top positions in recent weeks, .
“As a team, we want to focus on eliminating small mistakes in our routines like a step on a landing or bent legs. We can make our routines now, so we’re targeting the little things,” Levi said.
The Quakers’ confidence in themselves and each other keeps them poised to make the weekend’s inter-conference showdown a success for the squad and a victory for their vision. Levi anticipates with conviction a solid performance by her team both as a collective and as individuals.
“The Rutgers meet is a perfect chance for us to get into a competitive mindset and build confidence in an exciting environment,” she said. “We’ve been looking forward to this meet for a while!”
“I have complete confidence in every single one of the girls on the team, and I know that everyone is capable of showing their best routine,” Moore added. “We all trust each other.”
As these fearless athletes fling, bend, flex and flip themselves in ways that most of us can’t even begin to understand, this trust will be instrumental in ensuring the triumph of the Red and Blue in this weekend’s contest. And if the Quakers resemble their season-opening performances at all, they’ll be back on top as the Ivy League’s team to beat.
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