Gymnastics Advances to USAG Team Finals, Scoring 193.900
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - Despite the three-week layoff between the ECAC Championships and USAG Championships, the break did not seem to affect the gymnastics team as Penn scored 193.900, finishing second in the evening session, and advancing to the USAG Team Finals. The team's score was just off the pace of the ECAC Championship meet, but will still good enough to be the second-best team total this season and the fourth-highest score in the history of the program.
Top-seeded Bridgeport also advanced from this session with a score of 195.525. In the team finals, the Quakers, who finished with the second-highest score of the day overall, will be joined by Texas Women's (193.625) and Air Force (192.300) after those schools finished first and second in the afternoon session. The team championships will take place Friday night at 7 p.m.
Individually, Dana Bonincontri led a group of Penn gymnasts that qualified six event finalists and has two more alternates. The Quakers' junior finished as the team's best scorer on each of the four events, including a career high on floor and the second-best vault in program history. With those scores, she finished with a 39.275 in the all-around, which is the highest score in the highest of the program. This broke Anna Wilson's 11-year record (39.225) that was set at the 2001 ECAC Championships. Bonincontri made the event finals in all four events. She will be joined in the event finals on Saturday by Kirsten Strausbaugh, who finished fourth in the uneven bars and floor exercise.
The Quakers got their night started with a team vault of 48.6, the third-highest score in the history of the program. Like every event on this night, it was Bonincontri leading the way with a 9.85, finishing in third place. Three weeks ago, this would have tied the program record. However, she broke that mark with a 9.9 at ECAC's. Laura DiPaolo, who also has a 9.85 in her career after the ECAC meet, scored 9.75 tonight. Her score was good for seventh in the evening session.
Wynne Levy gave Penn three scores of at least 9.7 with her vault that placed her 13th overall. Strausbaugh finished right behind her teammate in 15th place overall, scoring 9.675. Megan Milavec added Penn's fifth score in the event with a 9.625, just missing a career high, while Amber Woo posted a solid 9.55 to round out the strong start on vault.
Moving to the uneven bars, Bonincontri finished with her highest individual event place of the evening, finishing second with a score of 9.825. Strausbaugh finished this event in fourth overall, guaranteeing Penn two spots in this event final on Saturday. She scored a 9.775. DiPaolo posted a season-high 9.7 for the Quakers' third score in the event. She just missed a shot at the event finals, having placed sixth in the session.
Right behind her in seventh place was freshman Makeda Constable. In her first USAG Championships, she scored 9.65. Milavec once again posted the fifth score on the bars team with a 9.525 to allow the team to finish with its fifth-best season total, 48.475. Woo was Penn's sixth competitor in the event, scoring 8.925.
Consistent scores from all six gymnasts gave the beam team its fourth-highest score of the season, 48.1. Bonincontri finished the event is sixth, but with Bridgeport placing five gymnasts above her, she was moved into the event final. She finished the event with a 9.75. Strausbaugh added a 9.65 and a ninth-place finish, giving Penn two top-10 placers in the event.
Woo just missed a top-10 mark as the ECAC Champion on beam scored 9.625, finishing the event in 11th overall. Milavec added Penn's fourth score in this event with a 9.575, good for 15th overall. Katie Graham and Constable would each post 9.5's on their routines for Penn's fifth score of the event.
Finishing up on floor, Penn sent two more into the event finals on Saturday as the two NCAA Regional qualifiers, Bonincontri and Strausbaugh, each finished in a tie for fourth with identical scores of 9.85. For Bonincontri, this marked a career high, while Strausbaugh's score just missed her career high that she set during the ECAC Championships.
Woo finished with a 9.75, which placed her 18th overall. Milavec came through with a second career high on the floor for Penn, scoring 9.7 to tie her previous best. This score also broke her season high from the middle of last month. Penn's fifth score came from Constable with a 9.575, while Graham scored 9.5 to round out the floor team that totaled 48.725, which was just off the pace of the ECAC Championship performance, but still good enough for the second-best floor score of the season.
In the all-around, the Quakers claimed three of the top-five spots in the late session and another eighth-place performance. Bonincontri's career night placed her second overall, just 75-thousandths behind the all-around champion from Bridgeport. Strausbaugh's four solid routines were also good enough to beat her career high that she set at the NCAA Regional. She finished the session with a 38.950 and third-place finish. These were also the second and third-best scores overall on the day counting the first session as well.
Milavec finished with an all-around score of 38.425. This score placed her fifth in session II and was good enough for seventh place overall when taking the first session into account. Woo closed strong and finished with a score of 37.85 and the eighth-place spot for the night cap.
With the strong team performance that beat out third-place Temple by over two points, the entire team stays in action for one more day. The Quakers will have to go on back-to-back days for the first time all season in the team championships that get underway at 7 p.m. on Friday. The Quakers will be looking for their first ever USAG Championship.
Full results from Session II
Vault - 48.600 (Third-highest score in program history)
Uneven bars - 48.475 (Fifth-highest score of the season)
Balance Beam - 48.100 (Fourth-highest score of the season)
Floor Exercise - 48.725 (Second-highest floor score of the season)
*Italics indicate event finalist qualifier