Penn gymnastics' graduating class went out in style in the team's Senior Meet.
After putting up their second highest score of the season, but still finishing third out of four teams last week, the Red and Blue returned to the Palestra hoping to bounce back in a meet against William & Mary, which also served as a senior sendoff for five Quakers. In the meet, Penn managed to come out on top, overcoming the Tribe, 193.025-192.850.
The Quakers started off the afternoon on the vault, the event in which they struggled the most last weekend. Led by freshman Sydney Kraez, who placed first with a score of 9.800, and senior captain Valerie Rube, who had a career-high of 9.775, the Red and Blue posted their highest score of the day, finishing with 48.500.
Penn then moved on to the uneven parallel bars, where it ended with a score of 48.150. Despite William & Mary’s strong performance in the event, the Quakers managed to keep their lead thanks to an impressive mark reached by freshman Libby Garfoot, who tied for second with a score of 9.700.
“[Our main strength] is the people. Not only is everyone in it together and with the same goals, but we are also best friends,” senior captain Caroline Moore said. “We enjoy being with each other, so we focus on competing for our teammates and putting it all out there because we want each other to succeed so badly.”
On the third rotation, the Red and Blue took on the balance beam and were able to extend their lead. Moore and freshman Lauren Joost impressed with solid performances and led the way by each putting up scores of 9.750. The mark was also Joost’s career-high and enough to secure her a third-place finish in the event.
“Today we were able to show our potential individually but also our potential as a team,” Joost said. “We really build off each other’s energy. I couldn’t do this without my team. They always hype me up and motivate me to be better in practice and in the meet, so I attribute it to them.”
The Quakers finished the day on the floor exercise, where they received their lowest score of the day with a 48.125. Nonetheless, Penn displayed impressive routines, with sophomore Darcy Matsuda placing second with a score of 9.850, only 0.025 shy of her personal best. Additionally, seniors Moore and Morgan Hunker each finished with 9.775.
Meanwhile, William & Mary was still hoping to bounce back on the balance beam, where the Tribe had their highest score with a 48.725, but that was not enough to surpass the Red and Blue.
Sunday was only the latest example of the Quakers’ improvement throughout the season. After a slow start, the team has now posted its third consecutive performance with over 193 points.
“We put up a lot of good stuff out there today,” Moore said. “It wasn’t our best showing this year, but it’s a great position to be in when we score over 193 and still consider that not a good day.”
To honor the seniors, their families played a slideshow, which included some of the athletes' first competitions and showed their progress as gymnasts.
“I adore my class; they are my best friends,” Moore said. “I cherish every moment I’ve had with them. I have never been on a team as close as this, and it’s an honor to be a part of it. Everyone’s fired up now, ready to work really hard and hopefully bring home some rings.”
The Quakers will hope to continue improving next week, when they host the Ivy Classic, a tournament they haven’t won since 2015.