PHILADELPHIA - Friday night the University of Pennsylvania gymnastics team begins a new era as new head coach John Ceralde leads the Quakers in their first meet of the 2007 season versus Maryland and Towson in College Park, Md. Ceralde takes over the reigns from Tom Kovic who coached the Red and Blue for 19 seasons. Here is a preview of the 2007 campaign.
Some things to think about as the Quakers head into the 2007 season...
Penn returns eight letterwinners from last season.
The Quakers finished second at last season’s Ivy Classic, the fourth straight year they have finished third or higher.
Junior Stephanie Ortiz finished 14th overall at the NCAA Regionals last year. She posted a 9.375 (vault), 9.300 (bars), 9.425 (floor) and a 9.700 on beam.
Ortiz finished third in the all-around competition at the ECAC’s with a 38.35. Her performance earned her first-team honors.
Jordan Brewer (9.675) and Lauren Markowitz (9.650) finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in the vault competition at ECAC’s. They both garnered second-team All-ECAC.
Markowitz won the individual vaulting title at the Ivy Classic last season with a 9.650. Her efforts earned her ECAC Rookie of the Week honors.
Brewer finished third on vault (9.55) and beam (9.675) at last year’s Ivy Classic.
Kerri Lutfey took fifth on vault (9.5) and sixth on beam (9.425) in her first Ivy Classic.
Lutfey helped Penn defeat James Madison last year by scoring a 9.600 on vault to take first place, 9.525 on beam to also finish first, and 9.475 on floor. Her efforts earned her ECAC Coaches Choice Award.
Penn lost seven seniors from a season ago, five of which were letterwinners. None will be tougher to replace than Emily Petkun, a four-time NCAA Regional qualifier who finished 15th last season.
Freshman Marissa Rosen placed fourth all-around at the 2006 Region Seven championships. She was also a Junior Olympic qualifier from 2004-06.
Freshman Lizzie Lowe was a Level 9 Eastern National qualifier and seven-time regional qualifier.
Meghan Eastman qualified for the USA Regional Championships all four years of high school. She was an alternate for the USA National Championships in 2005.
Quoting Coach Ceralde
Talk about the attitude of the team heading into 2007...
“This is a young team that is anxious to compete. They have had a great pre-season and continued to show progress since official practice started. The energy level is high and the team is very excited and motivated.”
What area(s) do you think will be a particular strength this season?
“We are looking very strong on beam and bars.”
What sort of an impact will the freshman class have?
“We are inexperienced due to the seven graduating seniors last season. We are a young team, and the freshmen will have a direct impact in the lineup. They are willing to step up and continue the program’s success.”
On the bars...
“Making their way back into the bar lineup are sophomore Stefanie Navarro and junior Kim Chin, who will make a direct impact this season. Also seeing time on the bars will be seniors Kara Dewhurst and Julia Stolar along with junior Stephanie Ortiz (last season’s NCAA regional qualifier). Sophomore Jordan Brewer and freshmen Marissa Rosen, Meghan Eastman, Lucy la Cour, Jenny Hurst and Lizzie Lowe will make the uneven bars an event to watch.”
On the beam...
“With Eastman, Samantha Benson, Hurst, LaCour, Lowe and Marissa Rosen, the freshmen are going to be the key players in the beam lineup. Ortiz and Chin are going to bring experience to the lineup. Navarro, Brewer, Lutfey, Lauren Markowitz and Mia Turner have the potential to have breakout seasons and contribute to the success of the beam lineup.”
On the vault...
“Markowitz, the returning Ivy League Vault Champion, along with Brewer, Lutfey, Chin and Ortiz will return to the lineup. Newcomers Eastman, Hurst, la Cour, Rosen and Lowe will probably see action during the season.”
On the floor...
“Inexperienced and young, the floor exercise will be open for gymnasts to step up into the lineup. Leading the floor this season will be Ortiz, Brewer, Turner and Sarah Wexler. A strong core of freshmen will be counted upon to provide depth on the floor exercise.”