It's time for the biggest stage for two of Penn's senior gymnasts.
This weekend, Kyra Levi and Alex Hartke will represent the Red and Blue at the NCAA Regionals hosted by Penn State. This season marks the first since 2013 in which the Quakers have any individual gymnasts competing at the Regionals and the first year since 2012 where Penn will send more than one athlete to compete.
The pair will be heading to State College, Pa. this weekend, which happens to be where Levi scored her personal best and tied her career-high score this season, earning a 9.900 on the bars on Feb. 17.
At that same meet, Hartke anchored the floor team with an impressive score of 9.750. If the two can perform as well at Penn State as they did last time, they could see possible NCAA Championship spots in their future.
As seniors, the pair has set a great example for their younger teammates all season. Consistently setting high scores and in some cases, filling in for injured gymnasts, both Hartke and Levi have helped forge a path that the underclassmen will look to follow for years to come.
“There’s not reason that next year freshmen shouldn’t be doing this, or that the team shouldn’t be going as a whole unit,” Levi said. “I think Penn is really on the up and up, and as a program we’re realizing what we’re capable of, so the lesson to be learned is that it’s totally within our reach, and it’s up to us where we go as a program.”
For the first five meets this season, the team raised its overall team score. If this level of improvement continues, with the additional hard work from the team, Red and Blue fans should be excited for future seasons.
“Things might not come easy freshman and sophomore year, but if you work hard and keep doing what you’re supposed to be doing, you’ll get to where you want to be and accomplish more than you thought you could coming in,” Hartke echoed.
Hartke is a perfect example of someone whose hard work has paid off. In the 2015 season, she competed in just one meet on floor. In the three seasons since, the senior has participated in all the team’s meets on floor, including earning the title of ECAC Specialist of the Year for her performance.
For both, this accomplishment is the summation of not only a successful season with the team, but a lifelong career of work.
“It’s a really exciting opportunity, just to be able to go out there and do another routine,” Hartke said. “As a senior, you start to realize that your opportunities are starting to get limited, so just having one more chance to do my routine is really exciting.”
Levi agreed with her teammate and in particular praised the team as a whole.
“I’m really proud of the work that Alex and I have put in, but I also think it should be noticed that we absolutely could not have qualified if it weren’t for our lineups,” she said. “So while I’m personally proud of us, I’m really proud of the team and really grateful that they stepped up and allowed us to get to this point.”
So when Hartke takes the floor and Levi takes the bars this weekend, they will have their entire team behind them.
Bring on the competition: This pair is ready.