Towson, Md. - In its final competition before the Ivy Classic next weekend, Penn has to be feeling very good about its team after a second place finish at the Shelli Calloway Invitational at Towson University. The Quakers fell just short of the hosts in their effort to take home the team title. Nevertheless, this day was a positive for the team as they picked up three more victories, including a win over a Cornell team that Penn will see again next weekend. The team also avenged an earlier loss to Temple and picked up its second win of the season over Ursinus. Individually, six career-highs were bested and another was tied during the competition. On top of the individual success, the Quakers set their team-high score for the season with a mark of 191.950. This score was over two and half points better than the team had done in any other meet this season.
Highlighting the performances of the day were two of the regulars at the top of leader board. Dana Bonincontri and Kirsten Strausbaugh ended up in a second place tie for the All Around title with each scoring 38.675. This score tied the season-high mark for Strausbaugh. Finishing just behind them was the constantly improving Megan Milavec, who finished in fifth place overall in the All Around. Her score of 38.475 was a personal career-high. However, this was just one of the four career-highs that she set on the day as she also bested her career-highs in the Vault, Uneven Parallel Bars, and Floor Exercise. Katie Graham was the final Quaker to compete in the All Around, finishing in ninth place at the end of the day.
In the floor exercise, Bonincontri and Strausbaugh finished in a ninth place tie for the event with each scoring a 9.700. Following closely behind them was Milavec, who posted a career-high 9.675 for the event to finish 14th. Nicki Valenti had a strong showing with a 9.450 to finish in 25th, while Keolamau Yee finished in 26th. Even the Quaker's sixth gymnast Graham had a strong showing with her 9.225 in the floor.
Moving over to the Vault, Strausbaugh led the Quakers with her season-best 9.625 to finish in 12th place. Milavec used another career-high (9.600) to finish right behind her teammate in 13th. Bonincontri added a 16th place finish to vault team, while Elise Bowe used a career-high mark of 9.550 to finish in 18th. Diana Moock scored a very solid 9.500 to finish in 20th place, giving the Quakers five placers in the top 20. Once again, Graham had a solid mark of 9.400 for the Quakers sixth score in the event.
The Quakers really made an impression on the Uneven Parallel bars during the third rotation. The team set its highest mark of the season in the event with a cumulative score of 48.250. Strausbaugh won the event individually with her career-high 9.800. The Quakers one-two combo was literally that in the event as Bonincontri finished second with her 9.750. Milavec's third career-high in individual events gave her a seventh place finish. Bowe made it four Quakers in the top 10 with her ninth place finish. Moock used a career-high 9.425 to give the Quakers a solid fifth score. Graham also took to the bars for the first time this season and finished in 24th place overall.
With the odd number of teams, the Quakers sat out the fourth rotation, but got right back in the swing of things during the fifth and final rotation. Heading into the last rotation, the Quakers were in first place as a team and their Balance Beam did its best to insure they would finish that way. Yee lead the way, tying her career-best mark on her way to finishing third. Bonincontri finished seventh overall for the event. Strausbaugh and Milavec would then tie for eighth place to give the Quakers four top 10 finishers in this event as well. Graham then used a 9.450 to give the Quakers five scores in top 15 with her 14th place finish. Bowe posted another solid mark of 9.250 for the Quaker's sixth score in the event.
The Quakers looked poised to take the overall team title, but Towson used four scores over 9.700, including two marks of 9.825 to narrowly take the team victory. Still, Towson's perseverance in the final event could not put any damper on the best day that Penn had so far this season.
Full results of the day's competition are available here.
The Quakers will now return home to Philadelphia in anticipation of the Ivy Classic, which will be held at The Palestra on Sunday, February 27 at 1 p.m. The team will be looking for another outstanding performance from all its gymnasts if it wants to take home the title in its home gym.
|Uneven Parallel Bars|