PHILADELPHIA – After totaling the fourth-highest score in program history in its best meet of 2013, the Penn gymnastics team heads to New Haven, Conn. on Saturday for the Ivy Classic. The Quakers will look to earn their third consecutive Ivy title – 12th in program history – and fourth in the seven years under head coach John Ceralde. The last team to win three straight was Cornell from 2008-2010. The Red and Blue haven’t won three straight since 2000 when they won their fourth in a row.
Last season Penn dominated behind the individual performances of Dana Bonincontri and Kirsten Strausbaugh, totaling 192.650 to win back-to-back titles. Bonincontri won the all-around and uneven bars, and tied for first on floor. Strausbaugh was right behind Bonincontri, placing second in the all-around and tying her for the top spot on floor.
The Quakers have competed against two of their three Ivy opponents this season. They met Cornell at the George Washington Invitational. Penn placed fourth at 189.575 and the Big Red finished right in front at third with a 190.300. The Red and Blue also met Ivy Classic host Yale in a dual meet in New Haven, topping the Bulldogs handily, 191.525 to 187.900.
Compared to the three other teams in this weekend’s competition, Penn has the edge. The Quakers are averaging an overall score of 191.133 this season, which is the most off all four teams. Brown looks to be the Red and Blue’s toughest road block to a three-peat, as the Bears are averaging 191.015, with Cornell right behind at 190.755.
Penn is averaging just below 48 this season on the vault, with its season-high 48.275 coming last Sunday against Bridgeport. Three rookies – Carissa Lim, Emily Paterson and Elyse Shenberger – have been dominant to this point. Lim scored a career-high 9.700, placing first against West Chester on Feb. 8. Paterson matched Lim’s score with the same career-high, placing sixth against Bridgeport. Shenberger’s career-high 9.600 came against Yale in their dual meet. Wynne Levy has also contributed, scoring a season-high 9.675 and placing second against the Rams.
The Quakers average a shade under 47.700 on bars, and scored a season-high 48.500 against the Purple Knights last weekend. Shenberger leads the way once again, scoring a career-high 9.750 for second against West Chester, and then surpassing that performance a week later against Bridgeport – she finished first with a career-high 9.800. She is joined by fellow freshman Amber Hu, who placed third against the Purple Knights with a career-high 9.775.
All-arounders Strausbaugh and Megan Milavec shine on bars as well. Milavec tied her career high against the Rams to place first with a 9.775 and followed that up with a 9.700 against Bridgeport. Penn’s co-captain placed first against West Chester with a 9.700 and fourth last weekend with a 9.750. Her season high came at the GW Invite, placing fifth at 9.775.
The Red and Blue are averaging over 47.600 in what is considered the toughest event. They scored a season-high 48.500 against Bridgeport last Sunday, led by three individual career highs. Milavec is fresh off her second-place finish on Senior Day when she scored a career-high 9.825. Additionally, Shenberger and Amanda Schlaefer tied their career highs of 9.725 against West Chester and Bridgeport, respectively. Keolamau Yee made her season-debut last weekend, scoring a 9.700 and Makeda Constable scored a career-high 9.675 against the Rams the weekend prior. Hu will also provide depth, with her career-high 9.700 coming in a first-place finish at West Chester.
Penn averages a 48.000 team score on floor, and scored a season-high 48.700 last weekend. Strausbaugh has dominated this event since her freshman year, and has put up major scores this season – career-high 9.875 (2nd, Bridgeport), 9.850 (1st, West Chester) and 9.825 (1st, Yale). Milavec, Shenberger and Kaitlyn Reszkowski all set career highs with 9.775, tying for sixth against the Purple Knights.
The Quakers have three first-place finishes this season, and have had at least one gymnast in the top three in five of the six meets. Strausbaugh’s top performances this year were her season-high 38.925 against Bridgeport and a 38.525 at the Rutgers quad-meet. Shenberger finished first with a career-high 38.675 against West Chester. Milavec scored a season-high 38.350 to finish fourth against the Purple Knights.
The meet is scheduled to being at 1 p.m. on Saturday at Yale’s Lee Amphitheatre.