Philadelphia Two members of the University of Pennsylvania gymnastics team have qualified for the NCAA Northeast Regional, held at the University of New Hampshire on April 9. Junior Emily Petkun qualified for the all-around competition for the second-consecutive year while senior Leah Moon qualified as an individual on the balance beam for the first time in her Penn career.
“This is a really exciting opportunity,” said Head Coach Tom Kovic. “It is the first time in the history of the program where we have had two qualifiers for the regional."
In addition to Petkun and Moon, the Quakers are the first alternate in the team competition. It is the first time in Penn gymnastics history in which the team has qualified for the regional competition. Senior Laura Bouchelle is also the first alternate as an individual vaulter and fellow senior Lex Chalat is the first alternate as an individual competitor in the floor exercise.
Both Petkun and Moon are the No. 1 seeds in their respective events in the competition as individuals. Said Petkun, “I am extremely proud to be the number one seed going into regionals.It builds my confidence because I know that I can beat all of the all-around qualifiers and that I deserve to be in the top spot.No matter what happens at regionals, I will happy that I achieved such an accomplishment by being the top seeded qualifier.”
As the only Penn qualifier with previous NCAA regional experience, Petkun knows what she can do to do improve on her finish from 2004. "My experience last year at regionals and all throughout the season will definitely help me in the competition,” she said.“I've had experience competing in big arenas against teams that are very strong last year at regionals and this year, especially at University of Denver. There will be a lot of great gymnastics to see at regionals, but I know how to stay focused on myself and my routines so that I can do the best I can.”
Six teams, five all-around competitors who are not members of a qualifying team and one individual event specialist per event each qualified for the regional competitions. The top two teams and the top two all-around competitors who are not members of an advancing team from each of the six regionals will receive an automatic berth to the national championships, held on April 21-23 at Auburn University. Individual event winners from each regional will also advance if they are not part of a qualifying team or an all-around qualifier.