She might not be moving on, but she competed her heart out.
Penn women’s gymnastics senior Alex Hartke executed her famous floor routine one last time as an individual at this year’s NCAA Regionals this past weekend at Penn State. Her score of 9.725 was impressive, but not good enough to advance to the elite NCAA Nationals, as she finished 34th of 42 competitors in the event.
It was a long time coming for Penn to have a gymnast at the Regionals; not since 2013 had a Quaker competed at that level. This year was even more special because two seniors from Penn were selected: Hartke on floor, and senior Kyra Levi as an alternate on bars.
At the Regionals, Hartke was up against talent from all over the country. Two of the top-eight teams, Florida and Washington, were in attendance, as well as No. 17 Arizona State. Each of the six all-around teams competing entered six gymnasts per event, plus six at-large selections from squads not competing as a group — how Hartke was picked — totaled 42 participants in each event.
Hartke’s final position may seem far away from the podium positions, but her score of 9.725 was less than two-tenths of a point away from the first place score of 9.900 earned by five gymnasts. The tie at the top was the biggest of all the events on Saturday and illustrates the high level of competition present on the floor.
Even though she could not place at this meet, Hartke still had an outstanding individual season. She never scored below a 9.675, had a season high of 9.925, and was named ECAC Specialist of the Year for her dominance on the floor.
“Senior year is just a culmination of a seventeen year gymnastics career, so going out with a bang is super exciting, and being recognized by the ECAC is an honor,” Hartke said.
Although Levi made the trip to State College as well, her status as an alternate meant she would only compete if a spot in the field suddenly opened up and a replacement was needed. All 42 gymnasts selected for the bars event were available to compete last Saturday, so the senior did not get to participate. However, simply being chosen to travel was an honor in itself.
The individual portion of the season may be over, but the Red and Blue will take the floor as a team one last time this upcoming weekend. The Quakers were chosen to attend the USA Gymnastics National Collegiate Championships in Denton, Texas, along with seven other schools, where they will look to end the year on a high note.
Hartke and Levi only have one chance left to impress the judges, but they have already made their team proud.
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