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Sophia Paris performs on the bar during the women's gymnastics Red vs. Blue Intrasquad Meet on Dec. 3, 2023. Credit: Weining Ding

The Keystone Classic came to the Palestra this year, with Penn gymnastics finishing third in a tight battle against Penn State, Pittsburgh, and Temple with a score of 192.575. 

Though the Quakers weren’t the popular pick to win the meet, the team did what they needed to do at its season opener: fly high and find the landing. On some events, this task proved harder than others.

The Quakers began the event and their season on vault. Freshman Jordan Barrow’s first vault in the Ivy League was a Yurchenko full with a lot of distance for 9.625. Senior anchor Kiersten Belkoff showed her experience with a lovely Yuchenko half after a fall from sophomore Skyelar Kerico for a 9.825 — the best of the rotation. Their score of 48.675 is the best season-opening vault score in Penn’s history. Multiple falls in the bars and beam lineups for Penn State and Pittsburgh secured an early lead for Temple.

The Red and Blue moved to the uneven bars for their second rotation, where junior Zara Gazdak set her new career best score with a 9.700. Kerico scored a 9.825 to finish the rotation. Freshman Sophia Paris premiered in the Palestra with a nearly-stuck double tuck dismount for a 9.525.

Penn sat in second place heading to the formidable balance beam. The highlight of the rotation was senior Campbell Marr’s routine, which finished with a stuck gainer full twist dismount, scoring a 9.675. Senior Ana Kenefick returned to lineups for the first time since February 2022 with a 9.15. Sophomore Alisha Werlen’s 9.65 was a great ending to an otherwise shaky rotation.

Temple led the pack heading into the final rotation, showcasing consistent landings across all events so far. Sarah Stallings of Temple won the uneven bars with a 9.875. Penn finished the night on floor. The double pikes from junior Emma Davies and sophomore Marissa Lassiter were the highlight of the rotation, and a sign of great things to come for the Quakers on floor this season. Davies led the Quakers on the event with a 9.800. 

Temple fell to last place after ending with a rocky beam rotation, but the Owls were not the only team struggling on the balance beam: 12 gymnasts fell on the event across all four teams. Penn State won the meet with a 194.725 without notching a fall on beam, something the Quakers, Owls, and Panthers will all be looking to improve moving into the rest of their seasons.

A two-time conference champion, Penn was ranked No. 1 in the Gymnastics East Conference in the preseason. The Red and Blue will seek to build on this week’s performance as they take on George Washington, Temple, Cornell, and Yale at George Washington on Jan. 14.