PHILADELPHIA - It was a day for the record books. It was mentioned earlier in the season that something special happens when gymnastics gets to compete in its home gym. That became even more evident today when the team came to The Palestra for the ECAC meet. In its home venue, gymnastics set a new program high for a home meet, and a new program record for an ECAC meet. The 194.400 team score was also the second-highest total in the history of the program.
In the end, it all added up to a 25-thousandths of a point victory over Towson, the smallest margin of victory possible in the sport. It was the team's first championship since the 2004 season, which was also hosted in The Palestra that season, and just its third ECAC title in program history.
Some notable achievement from today's meet include:
- Highest ECAC score in program history
- Highest home score in program history
- Second-highest team score overall
- Highest vault score in program history
- Third highest bars score in program history
- Broke floor season record by nearly four-tenths
- Highest Individual vault in program history
- Second-highest individual vault, which tied previous program record
- Scored 48-plus on every routine for the first time this season.
- Three individual event champions
- 12 gymnasts set or tied career highs
The way the rotations worked out, Penn followed Towson. After the Tigers opened the meet with a 49.075 on vault, it was Penn's turn to answer when the team came off of the first bye. The Quakers' response - the best vault team in program history. As a squad, Penn scored 48.775, breaking the program record by a tenth.
Dana Bonincontri was the top Quaker finisher in the event with the best mark in the history of the program, 9.9. She finished third overall behind two Towson gymnasts. Laura DiPaolo tied what used to be the program record with a 9.85. This result placed her fourth overall on the event and gave her a career high.
Amber Woo added another career high to the team's vault. She scored 9.725 to finish the event in 12th place overall. Kirsten Strausbaugh finished with Penn's fourth score, a 9.675, while Wynne Levy scored a 9.625 for Penn's fifth score on the event. Megan Milavec also completed a solid routine, scoring 9.45 in Penn's sixth score of the event.
As Penn was setting records on the vault, Towson put up another solid score of 48.6 on the uneven bars during the second rotation. With the Tigers on a bye during rotation three, Penn closed the gap with a 48.7 on the uneven bars, the third-highest mark in the history of the program, while Towson could just sit and watch.
The Quakers picked up their first event champion as Strausbaugh scored a career-high 9.85 in her routine to lead the way. Milavec added another career high to the Quakers' rotation as she scored 9.775 to give Penn a fourth place finish in the event.
Makeda Constable just missed her career high for the event, scoring 9.75 as Penn's third-best mark in the event. This score gave Penn three gymnasts in the top-seven. In her final ECAC Championship meet, DiPaolo brought home Penn's fourth score on bars with a 9.675, to finish a very strong day for her individually. Bonincontri scored 9.65 for Penn's fifth score in the event, while Woo scored 9.525 to round out the Quakers' bar team.
After two strong performances on their two best events throughout this season, the Quakers trailed the top-ranked team in the conference coming into the meet by just two-tenths of a point. Penn went on the bye in rotation four as Towson took to the balance beam. The Tigers were just slightly off, scoring 47.8 on beam, and that would gave Penn just enough wiggle room to overtake Towson in the next rotation.
In rotation five, with Penn on beam with Towson watching intently, the Quakers had some scary nail-biting moments on the beam, but would end up scoring 48.050, the fourth-highest score on beam this season. This event it was Woo that picked up an individual win in her first conference championship as she scored 9.775, tying her career high. Katie Graham got her final championship started with a 9.725. She would share fifth place on the podium with Bonincontri.
Constable brought home Penn's fourth score in the event with a 9.6. This mark placed her 17th overall at the end of the meet. The reason there were some anxious moments throughout the meet was that Strausbaugh was just slightly off going first for Penn on beam. She would finish strong however, scoring 9.225 for Penn's fifth score. Milavec also had trouble on the event. However, these combined scores would be good enough to give Penn a 145.525-145.475 edge over Towson with each just having the floor to go.
Up first on floor was Towson. The Tigers had been strong on floor all season long and today was no exception. Scoring a 48.9 certainly put the pressure on Penn as the Quakers took to floor in the final rotation of the meet. The Quakers needed at least a 48.875 to win by the minimum. They would get just that to take the meet by the smallest winning margin possible.
The floor had been a season of peaks and valleys for Penn all year long. Today, it was all peaks for the Quakers as they obliterated their season high, breaking the season high by nearly four-tenths. To do so, they used four career highs amongst the five scoring routines.
After regrouping from a tough outing on the beam, Milavec responded when her team needed her the most as she got the positive momentum rolling for the floor team in the leadoff spot. She scored a 9.625, which would end up being Penn's fifth score on the event, but got one of the five high scores needed in the books. In her second event of the day, Graham scored 9.45 in what would end up being Penn's sixth score.
Constable went third and set the first of four career highs for Penn to finish up the meet. She scored 9.75, finishing the meet in ninth place overall. This would also be Penn's fourth score in the event as the team finished with all four of its final gymnasts to compete in the top-10. Woo then scored 9.8 in her career high. This mark put her fifth overall in the event.
Bonincontri went fifth in the order as the Penn scores just went higher and higher. She scored 9.825, finishing the meet with a fourth place finish. This set the stage for Strausbaugh to bring the team title back to Philadelphia. Coming off a tough beam routine, Penn's final competitor on floor would break her career high in one of her speciality events, scoring 9.875, and giving Penn its third event champ of the day.
Bonincontri would be Penn's highest finisher in the all-around. She tied her career-high 39.1 to finish in second. Woo shattered her career high by more than three-tenths combined. She took fourth overall in her first ECAC meet. Strausbaugh finished the all-around with a combined 38.625 to finish in seventh, while Milavec totaled a 37.750 for Penn.
The Quakers will now await any bids to the NCAA Regionals, which will be held in two weeks. As a team, Penn will also take part in the USAG Collegiate Nationals, which will run from Thursday, April 12 through Saturday, April 14.
Full Penn Results
1. Penn - 194.400 (Second-highest score in program history, highest home score in program history)
2. Towson - 194.375
3. Temple - 192.450
4. Cornell - 192.350
5. Brown - 192.250
6. William & Mary - 191.925
7. Yale - 191.450
Vault (48.755) - Highest score in program history
3. Dana Bonincontri - 9.900 (Highest individual vault in program history, career high)
4. Laura DiPaolo - 9.850 (Tied the previous school record, career high)
12. Amber Woo - 9.725 (Career high)
17. Kirsten Strausbaugh - 9.675
23. Wynne Levy - 9.625
38. Megan Milavec - 9.450
Uneven Bars (48.700) - Third-highest mark in program history
1 Kirsten Strausbaugh - 9.850 (Career high)
4. Megan Milavec - 9.775 (Career high)
7. Makeda Constable - 9.750 (25-thousandths off career high)
19. Laura DiPaolo - 9.675
22. Dana Bonincontri - 9.650
34. Amber Woo - 9.525
Balance Beam (48.050)
1. Amber Woo - 9.775 (Ties career high)
5. Katie Graham - 9.725
5. Dana Bonincontri - 9.725
17. Makeda Constable - 9.600
34. Kirsten Strausbaugh - 9.225
40. Megan Milavec - 8.900
Floor Exercise (48.875) - Highest mark of the season by nearly four-tenths (.375)
1. Kirsten Strausbaugh - 9.875 (Career high)
4. Dana Bonincontri - 9.825 (Career high)
5. Amber Woo - 9.800 (Career high)
9. Makeda Constable - 9.750 (Career high)
19. Megan Milavec - 9.625
35. Katie Graham - 9.450
2. Dana Bonincontri - 39.100 (Ties career high)
4. Amber Woo - 38.825 (Career high by over three-tenths)
7. Kirsten Strausbaugh - 38.625
13. Megan Milavec - 37.750