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Penn hosted the gymnastics Ivy Classic and scored a season high 195.8 points on Feb. 24. Credit: Giuliana DiBenedetto

Penn gymnastics hosted the Ivy Classic for the first time since 2019 on Saturday, where the team achieved a season-high195.8 points. This is the third-highest score in program history and the highest-ever home score by almost three-quarters of a point. It is also Penn’s best score in Ivy Classic history.

In a four-team meet, everyone competes in Olympic order, and Penn began the night on the uneven bars. FreshmanSophia Paris’s stuck dismount was a highlight of the lineup, and sophomore star Skyelar Kerico’s anchoring 9.825 was the Quakers’ highest bars score, enough to place them in second. The back half of Cornell’s vault lineup put up a strong fight, but it was not enough. The Big Red found themselves in third at the end of the first rotation, with Yale in the lead after a strong 9.875 on floor from Ella Tashijan.

“The girls today had a certain focus,” said coach Kirsten Becker. “We talked about being a little more disciplined in the meet. You know, they’re disciplined in practice, but sometimes when the adrenaline is running, it’s hard to hone in on the landings.”

Credit: Giuliana DiBenedetto

Penn gymnastics holds up their trophy after winning the Ivy League Championships on Feb. 24.

And hone in on the landings they did, as senior leadoffs Kiersten Belkoff and Ana Kenefick began the Quakers’ effort on beam with two scores of 9.825. The scores kept building toward sophomore Samantha Wu’s first 9.900 in her first outing as the anchor. Wu gave all the credit to “the rest of the lineup for building that score.” 

“They didn’t tell me I was anchoring beam until last night,” Wu said. “But it turned out really well today.” 

A score of 49.275 on balance beam for the Quakers is the best of the season and the second-highest in program history. 

Brown made a statement of its own in the second rotation with a 49.100 on floor. The Bears’ Julia Bedell scored a 9.925 to win the event outright. It wasn’t enough, however, as the Quakers took the lead by three-tenths of a point over Yale heading into the third rotation.

The Quakers took floor with a trio of 9.850 scores from Kerico, senior Sara Kenefick, and junior Emma Davies. Cornell’s 49.075 on the balance beam was a season-high, as well as Yale’s 48.925 on uneven bars. Penn’s 48.950 was enough to keep the team in the lead over Yale for the final rotation.

The Red and Blue ended the meet on vault, where a 48.950 total set a new fourth-best score in program history. Freshman Jordan Barrow’s Yurchenko Full for a 9.825 tied Sara Kenefick, and sophomore Marissa Lassiter’s 9.775 was her season-high. Sydney Beers for Cornell stood out on floor with a 9.875, good for second on the event.

Wu’s 9.9 on balance beam earned her the win outright on the event. Becker said Wu “is very consistent, she’s just been somebody that is reliable for us … and we were like, okay, from a consistency standpoint, [Belkoff] and [Wu] are pretty awesome, maybe we try them at one and six! We kind of did bookends there.” 

“Beam is such a mental sport,” Wu said. “But I can trust myself and my gymnastics. I’ve always loved beam.”

Sara Kenefick and Barrow also tied for first on vault alongside Cornell’s Michaela DeFrancisco and Tashijan. 

In the end, Kerico and Sara Kenefick finished first and second in the all-around. Kerico’s 39.325 is the best score by a Quaker in set the new program all-around record — one that has been untouched for 12 years. With three records set Saturday, including Kerico’s All-Around record, Becker said the team “felt like this is the most put-together meet we’ve had.” She said it was their “best collective meet, and we’ve picked a good day for it!”

Looking ahead toward the rest of the season, Becker summed up the team's mentality for the remaining five meets as, “Let it fly.” She said the team has “the mentality of not holding back anything. We’ve had a really successful season so far and we’re really proud of them.”

On March 3, the Quakers take on No. 1 Oklahoma and No. 24 Clemson at Texas Woman’s University.