Sometimes the best player on the floor is not on the winning team.
Penn gymnastics opened its season with a 192.650-191.425 loss against Towson last Sunday. Sophomore Sydney Kraez led the way for the Quakers, winning both the vault and floor exercise, along with the individual all-around title. However, consistent performances from Towson’s freshman class allowed the Tigers to secure the victory at the Palestra.
“I think as a whole we were pretty confident and really calm going into it, which was nice because nobody seemed very stressed or panicked,” Kraez said. “We were pretty confident building off of everything we had done all preseason going into the first meet.”
The first rotation started with the Quakers (0-1) occupying the vault, while the Tigers (1-0) began on the uneven bars. Kraez and fellow sophomore Ava Caravela led Penn with respective average scores of 9.775 and 9.700 on the vault, but Towson’s performance on the uneven bars, led by junior Tess Zientek, who won the event for the day, gave it a 0.125-point lead after the first rotation.
The Tigers continued to build on their lead in the second rotation with their highest scoring team event of the meet on the vault (48.625), while Penn struggled with the uneven bars, posting a 47.100 for their lowest team event score. Moving into the third rotation, where Penn would grace the balance beam and Towson the floor exercise, the running score was 97.000 to 95.350 in favor of Towson.
Despite great performances from Kraez (9.675) and sophomore Natalie Yang (9.825) on the balance beam, the Tigers once again relied on consistent, strong performances from the entire team in the floor exercise to build up a 2.425-point lead heading into the final rotation.
Kraez noted that there were a few areas that the Quakers will look to improve in the coming meets.
“There were a couple [of] bigger mistakes, but nothing that we really had to worry about,” she said. “It’s just little things like details in our routines and presenting and making sure that we’re showing it off just to get the highest score that we possibly can.”
The final rotation provided some drama to a meet that was all but considered over up until that point. The floor exercise proved to be the Quakers' best event of the day, scoring 48.700 points as a team. Strong performances from Kraez (9.800), freshman Rebekah Lashley (9.775), and juniors Darcy Matsuda (9.750) and Jordyn Mannino (9.750) propelled Penn to outscore Towson in the event and make up ground in the running score. In addition to Penn’s great final showing, Towson’s performance on the balance beam was one to forget, posting their lowest team score of the day at 47.500.
Despite making up heavy ground in the final rotation, the Quakers' comeback effort was too little, too late, and Towson finished the day on top.
Overall, Kraez saw the meet as a good start to the new season, and a chemistry-building experience for the team.
“The energy was great. We were vibing off of each other, having a lot of fun, and were really confident in the routines we were putting up,” Kraez said.
The Quakers will look to bounce back and earn their first win of the season when they travel to our nation's capital to face George Washington next Sunday.