The Red and Blue are peaking at just the right time.
In one of the most important meets of the season, Penn gymnastics showed out on Sunday at this year's Ivy Classic in Ithaca, N.Y., claiming the title in dominant fashion with a team score of 194.850 — the second highest ever for the Quakers.
Breakout sophomore Sydney Kraez also had herself a big day, winning the individual all-around title with a combined score of 39.050 across all four events.
Facing off against Yale, Cornell, and Brown, the Quakers started off strong with a powerful performance on the beam. Their event score of 49.125 was the highest in program history.
It was a consistent team effort all the way, with every gymnast notching a score of 9.750 or higher on the beam. Junior Darby Nelson and sophomore Natalie Yang led the way with a 9.875 each — tying for second in the event overall — and standout freshman McCaleigh Marr posted a 9.825.
The Quakers continued to dominate on the floor, combining for a 48.875. Sydney Kraez had Penn's highest score of the day with a 9.900, also the third-highest of the meet overall. Freshman Rebekah Lashley scored a 9.850 and junior Jordyn Mannino added a 9.825 to pace the Red and Blue to a solid finish in the event.
Penn's record day continued through the vault, where junior Rose Hoffman was unshakeable and scored a 9.800. She was followed by Kraez, who kept the team score high with a 9.825. Kraez earned the second-highest score of the event, beating everyone except Mei Li Costa of Brown. The Quakers cruised to a vault score of 48.775, one of two events that they won outright.
The final event of the day was the bars. Although the team's event score of 48.075 was its lowest of the day, it was still the highest of all four teams. With a top score of 9.675 from Mannino and a 9.650 from Marr, the Quakers did enough for their first Ivy Classic win in five years.
Penn’s first-place performance on Sunday was studded with a number of personal-best marks, as the athletes are reaping the rewards of their consistent hard work all season.
“There were numerous career highs tonight, and vault actually had the highest event score of the season so far," coach John Ceralde said. “Edie Graber hit her vault high with a 9.600, Rebekah Lashley went 9.750 on hers, and [Jordyn] Mannino also hit a career high. On beam, Darby Nelson and Sydney Kraez tied their career highs. On floor we hit three career highs. It was a whole team effort, they fought really hard and really came out on top and had a great performance today.”
Overall, the meet was a resounding success for the team, who has steadily improved since starting the season with a score of 191.425 against Towson in January.
“We always work on being consistent in the gym with our practices as well as competing. Their hard work is starting to pay off and we’re trying to continue that throughout the rest of the season," Ceralde said. “We’ve always challenged ourselves to find small things to improve each meet and that’s what we’re doing now, just trying to accomplish those small things so the big things can happen.”
Relying on key contributors like Kraez, Penn made the most of a blazing start and proved dominant over its trio of Ivy competitors. The team is hoping to dominate again next Sunday in another big meet, this time against Temple, William & Mary, Yale, and host Maryland.
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