PHILADELPHIA - Following an outstanding performance at the Shelli Calloway Memorial Invitational, gymnastics returns home to host the Ivy Classic this Sunday at 1 p.m. inside The Palestra. The Quakers are returning home after a team-best score of 191.950 in Maryland. They will be looking to build upon the continued success that has been building all season. The Ivy Classic looks to be very competitive this season as Penn is one of three Ivy schools to post its highest score of the year in its last time out.
With only one senior and three juniors on the roster, Yale brings in a young team that has shown drastic improvement since the beginning of the season. The Bulldogs posted a season-high 187.450 in their last time out. For Yale, Lindsay Andsager comes in ranked 13th in the conference in the bars. Talis Trevino and Stephanie Goldstein are ranked 12th and 13th in the floor exercise. Goldstein comes in as Yale's top hopeful for the All Around, averaging 36.683 on the year with a high-score of 38.075. Yale and Penn met one time this season, when Yale traveled to Penn, with the Quakers coming out on top 187.200-181.000.
Brown also set its high-score for the year in a quad-meet up in New Hampshire two weekends ago. The Bears posted a 191.500 to finish in third-place at the end of the day. This score was over three points better than the Bears had done in any other meet during this season. Emily Lutfey comes in with the highest average All Around score for the Bears at 38.070. She averages a 9.550 on vault, 9.610 on bars, and 9.640 on the floor exercise. Another possible All Around competitor for Brown is Carli Wiesenfeld, who averages a 9.494 in beam and 9.400 in the floor. Brown and Penn met once this season at the Rutgers Invitational. Penn finished the event in third with a score of 188.750 and Brown finished fourth with a 184.725.
Cornell, the defending Ivy Classic Champions, come into the competition as the most consistent team through the first part of the season. Every score on the Big Red's season has been within two points, ranging from 189.300 to a high of 191.275. McKenna Archer and Maddie Pearsall are both ranked in the top four in the ECAC in the vault. Pearsall and Bethany Neczypor are both ranked in the top four in bars. Pearsall and Sarah Hein are ranked third and fifth respectively in the floor. Melanie Jorgenson has been the only Cornell gymnast to compete in the All Around for the Big Red this season. She averages a 37.825 in the All Around for the season. Penn has seen Cornell go through both high and lows this season. When Cornell set its season-high score at the Lindsey Ferris Invitational to finish fourth, Penn finished that event in seventh with a score of 189.425. Penn also defeated Cornell earlier this month at home, 189.775-189.300. This past weekend, Penn and Cornell were also in competition together at the Shelli Calloway Invitational. The Quakers finished in second with a 191.950, while the Big Red finished fourth with a 190.800.
The Quakers come into the Ivy Classic with two gymnasts who have shown the ability to put up high marks. Dana Bonincontri and Kirsten Strausbaugh have been the two most consistent gymnasts for Penn throughout the season. Bonincontri comes into the Ivy Classic ranked third in the ECAC in Balance Beam and seventh in Uneven Parallel Bars. She is averaging a 38.300 in the All Around. Bonincontri also tied for first in the Ivy Classic bars competition with Cornell's Neczypor a year ago. Currently, Strausbaugh is ranked 12th in the ECAC in bars competition, while also averaging a 9.755 in the floor exercise. Strausbaugh and Bonincontri are also coming off of a week in which they tied for the second best score in the All Around in the ECAC. Strausbaugh also set the highest weekly mark throughout the ECAC in the bars with a 9.800 this past weekend.
An emerging gymnast for the Quakers has been Megan Milavec, who set career-highs in the vault, bars, floor, and All Around competition during this past weekend, earning her the ECAC's Coaches Choice Award. Milavec competed in the All Around in five of the Quakers six meets this season. In her last two competitions, she has scored a 38.075 and 38.475 in the All Around. Another Quaker who has been consistently improving throughout the year is senior captain Elise Bowe, who has competed in three or more events for Penn in each of the last three competitions. In each individual event, Bowe has set her season-high during one of the Quakers past two competitions. Her highest score of the season came in the bars competition this past weekend where she posted a 9.625 in that event.
Katie Graham has also seen action in three or more events in the past five Quaker competitions, including all four events the last time out. Her strongest event has been the beam where she averages a 9.480 on the year. Freshman Diana Moock has been a consistent vaulter for Penn, averaging 9.405 while also competing in bars five times, posting a season-best of 9.425 this past weekend.
Two other freshmen are also likely to have a significant impact on the team's performance this weekend. Keolamau Yee has competed on the beam and floor in every meet this season. She is ranked fourth in the ECAC in beam, while also averaging 9.421 in the floor. Nicki Valenti has competed in the floor every meet this season and has a high-score of 9.500 in her rookie campaign.
The Quakers will be looking to improve on last year's Ivy Classic Result, in which the team finished third, behind team champions Cornell and second place Brown. The last time Penn hosted the Ivy Classic, the team used the home gym advantage, capturing the team title in 2007. Cornell is currently the three-time defending Ivy Classic Champions. Penn has won four Ivy Classic titles this century. From 1991-2001, Penn captured nine of the 11 team championships. The last time Penn had an All Around champion in the Ivy Classic was 1999 when Molly Sullivan won her second All Around crown.
Action gets underway Sunday at 1 p.m. with the march-in. The first event for each team is scheduled to start at 1:15. The Ivy Classic will conclude with the awards ceremony at 4 p.m.
For those who are unable to attend, the Penn Sports Network will be providing a Live Webcast of the Ivy Classic. The webcast will focus primarily on the Penn Gymnasts.