Gym time is grind time, and Penn gymnastics showed this when it went on the road at Cornell’s Teagle Arena this Saturday. The Quakers came away with a season-high score of 192.675 in a huge win, avenging earlier losses to the Big Red both this season and in last year's Ivy Classic.
The match was close with Cornell adding 192.400 to the scoreboard, leaving a narrow margin in favor of the Quakers.
The effort saw many Quakers experience career highs to get the job done. Youth shined today for Penn (2-4, 2-1 Ivy), with freshman Darcy Matsuda setting a new career high on beam with a 9.850, and sophomore Caroline Mitsch tieing her career high on bars with a score of 9.800. However, senior leadership is invaluable, and Ally Podsednik proved this by tying her career high on beam with a 9.800.
Beyond individual standouts, though, the team's depth was also on display throughout the afternoon. On bars, floor, and beam, 15 of the Quakers' combined 18 competitors put up scores of at least 9.600. On beam, the team's score of 49.075 was the team's best mark in at least a decade, catalyzed by Matsuda's career-high, allowing the Red and Blue to pull off the comeback win in their final event of the day.
Playing into this quality depth, the team has consistently used the phrase "#for24" throughout the year, and Matsuda spoke about what the hashtag means to her team.
“We have 24 people on our team, and so the hashtag represents how our goal is to do it for every single person on the team," she said. “We want it to represent doing it for the whole team."
However, Penn gymnastics did more than play for itself on Saturday. Cornell (5-4, 1-1) and Penn came together on the mats to wear teal ribbons that showed support to the survivors of sexual assault, an especially relevant topic given the recent sentencing of former Team USA doctor Larry Nassar.
The Red and Blue hope to take this momentum with them to their senior meet against Bridgeport, Temple, and Ursinus at the Palestra next Saturday. In terms of prep, the Quakers are keeping the same routine going into every match.
“We’re going to go in to the gym, stay focused, and work to carry our hard work in practice to the competition level," Matsuda said.
This match ultimately was a major statement win, one that strengthens the Quakers' resume for a possible NCAA Regionals bid.
Time will tell for what this team can accomplish the rest of the season, but on Saturday, the Quakers showed grit, determination, and evidence that they can compete with any team in the Ivy League.