PHILADELPHIA - For just the second time in the history of the gymnastics program, Penn will send two all-around gymnasts to compete at the NCAA Regionals. Today, it was announced that juniors Kirsten Strausbaugh and Dana Bonincontri have each been selected as NCAA qualifiers for the Raleigh regional.
The only other time two all-around gymnasts from Penn qualified for NCAA Regionals was in 2006 when Stephanie Ortiz and Emily Petkun represented Penn. Penn also sent two gymnasts to regionals in 2007 when all-around gymnast Marissa Rosen and uneven bars specialist Lizzie Lowe both qualified.
For Bonincontri, this will be the second consecutive season she has qualified for regionals. Strausbaugh was named as an alternate a season ago and will make her NCAA debut in two weeks. All NCAA regionals will be contested on Saturday, April 7. The Raleigh regional will begin competition at 4 p.m.
Bonincontri just barely missed a trip to the national championships as a sophomore. Despite missing some of the early season this year with an injury, she is ranked 12th in the northeast with a regional average of 38.790. Twice this season, including this past weekend's ECAC Championships, Bonincontri has scored a career-high 39.1 in the all-around, capturing that title three times in eight meets, while finishing second twice this year.
Strausbaugh was an alternate in the all-around at last year's regionals, but never got the chance to compete. This season, she will not have to wait as she is already in the field. She is ranked 13th overall in the region with a regional average of 38.730 in the all-around. She has won the all-around once this season and has finished runner-up in four other meets, competing in the all-around nine times to date. She posted a career-high 38.9 in the all-around during Penn's home quad meet in February.
In addition to Penn's two gymnasts, Monica Mesalles Sallares (Bridgeport), Haley Bodenheimer (Pittsburgh), and Alexis Gunzelman (Rutgers) also qualified for the all-around in this regional. Six teams, including No. 1 overall Florida, will also compete at the Raleigh regional. No. 12 Ohio State, No. 13 Penn State, No. 20 North Carolina State, Kent State, and North Carolina will round out the six teams.
Rotational orders have already been announced, Bonincontri will compete alongside North Carolina State in the meet. She will start her regional meet off on vault. After a bye in round two, she will compete on the uneven bars and balance beam in rotations three and four. Following a bye in rotation five, Bonincontri will finish up the evening on floor.
Strausbaugh will compete alongside Kent State. She starts her evening on beam. After a bye, she competes on floor and vault in rotations three and four. Her second bye will come in rotation five before she finishes up her evening on the uneven bars.
The top-two teams from each regional will advance to the NCAA Championships. For Strausbaugh and Bonincontri to qualify, they must place first or second in the all-around of the gymnasts that are not on a top-two team.