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For freshman McCaleigh Marr, her work ethic and positive attitude has allowed her to have a breakout season.

Credit: Son Nguyen

Like many Penn athletes, freshman McCaleigh Marr has been training for her breakout moment since childhood, but her impressive attitude has taken her to the next level.

On Saturday in Penn’s meet against Cornell, the rookie put up top scores on bars and beam with 9.825 and 9.800, respectively. On Sunday in the Quakers' home meet against Temple, Marr again put up incredible scores, with a 9.775 on bars and a 9.800 on beam.

As a result of her incredible performance, the freshman was named Eastern College Athletic Conference Rookie of the Week for a second week in a row. 

However, she is not merely satisfied with these near-perfect scores. 

“Even though my competition[s] at Cornell and [against Temple] were both really good, that’s not going to stop me from wanting to do better,” Marr said. “I know now that I can hit my routines in competition and get good scores."

Her want for perfection is not selfishly motivated; Marr is focused on contributing her best self for her team's gain.

“Now it’s more about how I can make things perfect, so it’s a lot of focusing on the small details like if my legs are perfectly straight," Marr said. "That way I can achieve my goal of [earning] the highest scores humanly possible; I want to do well so that my team can succeed as well."

This work ethic is not new for Marr. In 2019, the Baldwin School alum was a Junior Olympic national qualifier and a top-40 finisher at Nationals. In addition to these incredible feats, she placed inside the top five at the regional meet in 2019. Last but not least, she was the president of Girls Learn International and a youth volunteer coach for the organization. 

Her high school coach Cleo Washington can attest to Marr’s hard work and vibrance as a young gymnast. Washington worked with Marr for about four years, and testifies to the fact that Marr did not start out as a perfect gymnast by any means. 

“She was extremely hard-working. When she first got there, she had some random habits that we had to change so we had to go backwards many steps," Washington said. "At first, she was a little frustrated, but she worked really hard and always had an amazing attitude about it. She took on the challenge and really succeeded with it.”

As far as how she maintains this work ethic in the transition from club gymnastics in high school to varsity gymnastics at Penn, Marr is thankful for the support of her teammates. 

“My team has been very supportive of my journey and helping to get me to where I am right now. Also, my coaches have been very helpful as well,” Marr said. “Everyone just wants everyone else to succeed and that environment has been very helpful.”

The upperclassmen who compete on bars and beam are also a big help for Marr. 

“It’s really the small things that they do. Sometimes if I’m having a rough practice, they’ll pull me over and say something like, ‘Hey McCaleigh, you got this, don’t worry about that last turn’,” Marr said. “Them just building up my confidence has really been helpful.”

Marr is looking forward to a few things as a rising sophomore for the Quakers, including being able to compete with her younger sister and becoming a role model to the incoming freshman class. 

“I’m really looking forward to competing with my little sister Campbell, because she’s also going to be on the Penn gymnastics team next year,” Marr said. “This is the first year I haven’t competed with her and I am really excited to share our dream of competing in college together.”

“I’m also really excited to play the role for the freshmen that my upperclassmen did for me, which is being a supportive team member and just be a really good friend,” she added.  

Marr has proven she is a force to be reckoned with, even through her short time at Penn. She will compete this weekend at the Palestra in the Quakers' meet against Bridgeport, West Chester and William & Mary.