Gymnastics Prepares to Defend Ivy Classic Title

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PHILADELPHIA - Looking to win back-to-back Ivy Classic titles for the first time since 2000, gymnastics travels to Cornell this weekend, putting its skills on display against the rest of the Ivy competitors. Penn has not won back-to-back titles since the 2000 season. The program's win in 2000 was the last in the string of four straight years that the Quakers took home top honors at the classic. Since that time, Penn has won titles in 2004, 2007 and last year, 2011.

The Quakers are currently averaging 191.525, while the other three schools - Brown, Cornell and Yale - are averaging in the 189 range. However, Brown is coming off a season-high 191.725 this past weekend, while Yale also broke its season high last week, scoring 190.825. Cornell has been very consistent lately, scoring at least 189 in each of its last three meets.

Penn on vault

On vault, the Quakers are the top-ranked squad amongst their Ivy competitors, averaging just under 48 points per meet. They have scored 48-plus twice this season in the event. Laura DiPaolo is the second-ranked Ivy vaulter, averaging 9.725 per vault. She has scored at least that high in each of her last three vaults. Kirsten Strausbaugh is averaging over 9.6 per vault, fourth-best amongst Ivy gymnasts.

Amber Woo and Katie Graham have averaged over 9.5 on their vaults this season, ninth and 10th-best in the Ivies. Woo has scored 9.5 or higher in three of her first five vaults, while Graham has a season-high 9.525. Dana Bonincontri just missed a 9.5 for the first time this year, scoring 9.475 last week. Wynne Levy has vaulted in every meet and has scored 9.65 twice this season.

Megan Milavec has vaulted in the last five meets. She has scored 9.55 three times, just missing a season high last week. Penn put four gymnasts in the top-six on vault last season at the Ivy Classic as Bonincontri and DiPaolo led the way, finishing first and second.

Penn on bars

The uneven bars have been Penn's best event to date, averaging almost 48.1 per meet on this event, best among the Ivy schools. They have gone over the 48-point mark in four of the last five meets. The Quakers have used the same six gymnasts on the uneven bars every meet this season. Strausbaugh is coming off a two straight career-high 9.825 routines. She has scored at least 9.725 every meet this season and has the highest average among Ivy gymnasts.

Makeda Constable has set season highs in each of her last two meets, scoring 9.65 last weekend on bars. Milavec also set a career-high 9.675 last week. Bonincontri has scored at least 9.75 on bars in three of her six routines this season, while DiPaolo scored a season-best 9.675 last weekend. Woo also scored a season-best 9.675 in her routine last week at Towson. Overall, all six of Penn gymnasts have averages that rank them in the top-12 of Ivy gymnasts.

Penn on beam

Penn averages just over 47.9 on the balance beam, nearly seven-tenths better than any of its Ivy counterparts. Graham is ranked third among Ivy gymnasts on the event after scoring at least 9.725 in both of her last two meets. Bonincontri is ranked fourth, scoring a career-best 9.8 two weeks ago. Woo scored a season-high 9.775 last week and has scored at least 9.65 in four of her six routines.

Constable has gone at least 9.6 three times this season and set a season-high 9.675 at home two weeks ago. Strausbaugh has scored at least 9.575 in three of her last four meets, including a career-best 9.775 two weeks ago. Milavec scored a season-best 9.65 the last time Penn traveled to Cornell just three weeks ago. Penn has four of the top-nine balance beam averages in the Ivies, five of the top-nine if you included Amanda Schlaefer who has the highest overall average.

Penn on floor

Floor is the only event where the Quakers do not have the highest average amongst Ivy schools. They rank second behind Brown; however, Penn's last two meets on floor have been their best two meets on floor, scoring 48-plus both meets. Strausbaugh has scored at least 9.7 in four of her five meets and at least 9.75 in three of her five meets. She is ranked second among Ivy gymnasts and was the Ivy Classic champ in the event last season. Bonincontri has scored 9.8 and 9.75 the last two weeks in just her second and third routines this season.

Constable comes into this meet after putting up two consecutive season-high 9.65 routines. Kaitlyn Reszkowski did not compete on floor for the first time all season last week. Prior to that, she had scored at least 9.5 in her last three meets, including a season-high 9.575. Milavec scored a season-high 9.65 last weekend, her second time scoring that high this season. Woo has competed on floor four times, scoring at least 9.55 twice. Nicki Valenti has competed in floor in four straight meets, scoring 9.5 three times. Graham has also competed on floor twice this season.

Penn in the all-around

Penn used four all-around gymnasts last weekend for the first time this year. At the 2011 Ivy Classic, three of those gymnasts, Strausbaugh, Milavec and Bonincontri swept the top-three spots in the all-around. Strausbaugh will be looking to become only the fourth gymnast in Penn history to claim two Ivy Classic all-around titles. The only Penn gymnast to claim back-to-back titles was Barb Cantwell, who won three titles from 1980-1982.

Her toughest competition could come from her own team as Bonincontri scored 38.925 just two weeks ago, while Milavec was the runner-up last season, scoring a career-best 38.525 in that meet. Woo has also scored 38-plus in her last three all-around meets.

The rest of the Ivy Classic field

Brown's strongest event is on the floor where it is averaging over 48, best among Ivy League schools. The Bears are also ranked second on the vault behind Penn in the Ivies. Emily Lutfey is ranked fifth among Ivy gymnasts on the vault on beam, while Michelle Shnayder is ranked third on the vault and floor. Shnayder is ranked second in the all-around, averaging 38.133. Lutfey and Allison Rubenstein have also competed in the all-around this season. The Bears finished third last year.

Cornell has been consistent in all four events with a team-best 47.4 average on the vault. McKenna Archer is the top-ranked Ivy gymnast on vault. Melanie Standridge is ranked second on the balance beam, while Alexis Schupp is ranked fourth on bars. Cornell has not had an all-around gymnast yet this year. The Big Red finished second in last year's Ivy Classic as Penn snapped the three-year winning streak by the Big Red.

Yale's best event is the uneven bars where it is averaging 48.045 in that event this season. The Bulldogs have three of the top-five Ivy gymnasts in that event, featuring Morgan Traina (second), Lindsay Andsager (third), and Joyce Li (fifth). Tara Feld is the top-ranked Ivy gymnast on floor, while her teammate Stephanie Goldstein ranks fourth. Traina, Li and Feld are ranked fourth, fifth and sixth respectively in the Ivy all-around, while Mia Yabut has also competed in all four events this season.