Last season, Brown upset Penn gymnastics at the Ivy League Classic, but it was the Quakers that emerged victorious at the Gymnastics East Conference Championships. The eight teams in the GEC have seen a lot of change since March, so let’s see how the conference rankings might shake out this season.
1. Penn (2023: National Qualifying Score 195.02, first GEC)
Dipping below the 194.00 mark only twice last season, the Quakers put on a dominant performance all year long that resulted in the highest NQS in program history. What talent Penn lost with its graduates — particularly Michigan fifth-year transfer McCaleigh Marr — will be more than made up for with a star-studded freshmen class led by four-star recruit Madison Perkins. Expect fellow freshmen and three-star recruits Jackie Tunney, Jordan Barrow, and Reganne Cheang to make their way into lineups early. 10.0 start value vaults and reworked bar and floor routines will be the name of the game for the Quakers this season.
Event to watch: Floor. Penn’s lowest-ranked event will benefit from the newcomers, but a reliable weekly lineup will be coach Kirsten Becker’s goal.
2. Brown (194.315, second)
Brown had a breakout 2023, led by then-sophomore Julia Bedell’s Ivy- and conference-winning performances in the floor exercise. At the GEC Championships, Bedell bested the Bears’ floor record previously held by Olympian Alicia Sacramone. Though this is the team that upset the Quakers at the Ivy Classic last season, can the Bears take the conference crown in 2024?
Event to watch: Beam. A make-or-break event dependent on stability will be a tell-tale sign if the Bears can repeat their 2023 success.
3. West Chester (193.925, third)
West Chester is on the upswing after earning its best-ever final ranking in 2023. The Rams have a dream mix of new and experienced lineup options, and with only five total routines lost from their championships lineups, West Chester is setting up for some steady growth that is great to see from a smaller program.
Event to watch: Uneven bars. There will be a lot of growth with experienced upperclassmen and talented newcomers to keep an eye out for.
4. Southern Connecticut (193.00, fifth)
A massive roster of 35 gymnasts is the strategy coach Byron Knox uses, and to great success: The Owls set three program records last year, including a massive 49.2 on floor to end up first in the GEC. Southern Connecticut has an advantage on other conference teams because of its sheer depth.
Event to watch: Floor. With so many great floor specialists coming into a winning lineup, how will Knox handle the depth to maximize scoring potential?
5. Yale (193.92, fourth)
Though it feels like Yale has been free-falling through the rankings since 2019, a recent commitment from four-star recruit Alexandra Forbes is a good sign for the future of the Bulldogs. Until Forbes’ arrival, though, Yale is going to have to reckon with the loss of the GEC Performance and Gymnast of the Year Raegan Walker.
Event to watch: Vault. With new assistant coach Isabelle Fox from vault powerhouse Illinois State and 10.0 start value vaults from the incoming class, Yale’s focus this year will be regaining their momentum for the first time since 2020.
6. Bridgeport (192.14, eighth)
Bridgeport had a young team last year — 13 of its 22 gymnasts last season were freshmen — and it showed in preseason. However, by March, Bridgeport was putting up solid scores and finding its footing on floor. By then, it was too late. This year, armed with experience and only four lost routines from the team's conference championship lineups, Bridgeport is poised to make a big move this season — that is, if we get March Bridgeport again.
Event to watch: Floor exercise. The team could be top-three in the conference with a good day.
7. Cornell (192.81, sixth)
Cornell’s 2023 season was headlined by then-sophomore Sydney Beers, whose Ivy Classic all-around title could be in jeopardy this season with the return of Penn sophomore Skyelar Kerico.
Event to watch: Vault. Beers leads the Big Red on the event, but will the team’s strength be able to overcome a relatively young team with a weakness on the uneven bars? That’s for Cornell to answer.
8. William & Mary (192.445, seventh)
Don’t let the scores fool you: 2023 was a rebuilding year for the Griffins after the program was nearly cut in 2020. However, William & Mary just could not put together the rotations needed for a competitive conference score. Until we see some stability in their lineups, they will be hovering toward the bottom of the GEC.
Event to watch: Beam. Putting together a solid lineup would signal that the team is moving in the right direction.