ITHACA, N.Y. - It was certainly not easy, but in the end it resulted in another Ivy Classic championship for the Gymnastics team, its 11th as a program. The win also marks the first time since Penn won four straight Ivy Classics from 1997 through 2000 that the Quakers have captured the Ivy Classic title in consecutive seasons. To do so, gymnastics had to post its highest road score of the season, 192.650, because the host Cornell obliterated its previous season high, scoring 191.875, to finish in second place overall. Brown, 191.075, and Yale, 190.725, also put up high marks all day long.
The Quakers found themselves in second place after the first two rotations on the beam and floor, but when the title was on the line, Penn cranked up the intensity on vault and bars. The Quakers scored 48.4 on the vault, the second-highest mark in program history, during the third rotation. To secure the title, Penn went 48.7 on the bars, the third-best team bars score in program history.
Starting out on the balance beam, Penn began its afternoon with a 47.625 for the event. Amber Woo led the way individually with a 9.725, placing her second overall in the event. Finishing right behind her was Dana Bonincontri with an even 9.7. Kirsten Strausbaugh and Megan Milavec each secured marks of 9.55, which were good enough for seventh place overall with ties amongst the top-six gymnasts. Katie Graham scored a 9.1 for the event in her final Ivy Classic, while Makeda Constable rounded out the Penn beam team.
Moving over to the floor exercise, Penn finished the event with two consecutive 9.8's from Strausbaugh and Bonincontri. These marks tied the two juniors for first place in the event. For Bonincontri, it was the fifth time of her career that she has achieved this mark. For Strausbaugh, it marks a repeat win on the event after winning it outright at the classic last season. Milavec turned in a solid 9.55 on the event to finish in tenth overall with ties included. Right behind her was Woo with a 9.5. Constable gave Penn its fifth score on the event with a 9.275, while Nicki Valenti rounded out the floor team.
Sitting in second place at the halfway point, Penn was not going to let arch-rival Cornell take back the Ivy Classic title after Penn had snapped the Big Red's three-year winning streak in 2011. Last year, a strong vault on the fourth rotation secured a first place finish for the Quakers. This season, a strong vault on the third rotation propelled them towards the top of the leaderboard.
All six gymnasts on the vault hit on the event as Penn had six scores of at least 9.65 at the end of the rotation. These scores placed all of Penn's vaulters in the top-six overall with ties factored into the equation. Leading the way was Laura DiPaolo, who secured a third place finish in her final Ivy Classic on the vault. She scored a 9.725. Right behind her in fourth place overall was Bonincontri, who finished with a season-high mark of 9.7.
Woo just kept the chain of Penn finishes going with her season-high 9.675, good enough to slot her right behind Bonincontri in fifth place for the event. In sixth, Penn created quite a log jam of gymnasts as three Quakers scored 9.65 on their routines. Wynne Levy, Milavec and Strausbaugh all took home sixth place honors with that score. Milavec's score on the vault breaks her career high that she set at the Ivy Classic last season, while Levy's mark was the third time she has scored that high this season.
Overall, Penn's 48.4 on vault bested the team's high for the season by 15-hundredths of a point. The only Penn team to achieve a higher vault score was the 2004 squad that finished with a 48.675 in that Ivy Classic title run.
As was theme of the day, Penn just got better on every successive rotation and the final stop on bars was no exception to this rule. The Quakers scored a season-best 48.7 on the event of the day, the third-highest team bars score in the history of the program.
The last individual bars routine of the day was the best bars routine of the day and put Bonincontri first overall at the end of the meet. She scored 9.9 from both judges, breaking her career high in the process of improving on her third place finish last season. A 9.8 from Strausbaugh placed her fourth overall in an incredibly tough bars field and gave Penn two fantastic scores overall.
Milavec set a second career high for the day with a 9.7 on the bars, finishing sixth overall for the meet. This marks the second straight week that she set a career high on the uneven bars. Constable tied her season high from a week ago with a 9.65, which was good enough to place her eighth overall at the end of the day. She shared that position with her fellow freshman, Woo. DiPaolo rounded out the bars team for her final Ivy Classic.
Penn's score on bars was third all-time to only that same 2004 Ivy Classic team that scored 49.075 on the event and just behind the 2003 squad that recorded a 48.775. Bonincontri's individual score of 9.9 ties her for the third-highest mark on the event in the history of the program.
Last year at the Ivy Classic, the Quakers swept the top-three positions of the all-around. This season, Penn claimed both of the top-two positions and four of the top-five overall. Bonincontri finished with a combined career-high of 39.1, tied for the third-highest all-around score in the history of the program. She did not score lower than 9.7 on any event Sunday, bettering her career high by nearly two-tenths. The defending Ivy Classic all-around champion, Strausbaugh, bettered her all-around score by two-tenths from her championship performance last year and finished second overall.
Woo's 38.550 was a personal season high as she finished fourth overall. She improved her season best by exactly two-tenths of a point. Milavec also set a season high, scoring 38.450. This combined mark was nearly three-tenths better than she had done all season long.
With the defense of the Ivy Classic title complete, the gymnastics team will return back to Penn this coming Saturday afternoon for its final home competition before the ECAC Championships. That meet on March 3 against Southern Connecticut will get underway at 1 p.m.
1. Penn - 192.650 (Highest road score of the season)
2. Cornell - 191.875
3. Brown - 191.075
4. Yale - 190.725
Floor Exercise (47.925)
1. Kirsten Strausbaugh - 9.800
1. Dana Bonincontri - 9.800 (Ties career high, fifth time achieving this score)
10. Megan Milavec - 9.550
Amber Woo - 9.500
Makeda Constable - 9.275
Nicki Valenti - 8.900
Vault - 48.400 (Season high, second best team vault in program history)
3. Laura DiPaolo - 9.725
4. Dana Bonincontri - 9.700 (Season high by two-tenths)
5. Amber Woo - 9.675 (Season high by one-tenth)
6. Megan Milavec - 9.650 (Career high)
6. Wynne Levy - 9.650 (Ties season high for third time this season)
6. Kirsten Strausbaugh - 9.650
Uneven Bars - 48.700 (Season high, third best bars team score in program history)
1. Dana Bonincontri - 9.900 (Career high, tied for third-best bars routine in program history)
4. Kirsten Strausbaugh - 9.800
6. Megan Milavec - 9.700 (Career high for the second week in a row)
8. Makeda Constable - 9.650 (Ties season high set last week)
8. Amber Woo - 9.650
Laura DiPaolo - 9.050