PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – Although senior Kacy Catanzaro finished first on vault with a meet record 9.975 score and tied for first on bars (9.85), Towson University finished second to the University of Pennsylvania at the closest ECAC championship meet ever. Penn won the meet with a 194.400 score while the Tigers were second with a 194.375 score, a margin of 0.025 points.
In a very tight meet, the Tigers and the Quakers went into the final rotation with just 0.05 points separating the teams. Penn owned the slight advantage. The Tigers competed on floor exercise first and earned a 48.90 score. That meant that Penn needed a 48.875 on their floor rotation to win the meet.
Penn, which came into the meet with a season high 48.50 floor score, received career high performances from its final four gymnasts on floor to earn the score it needed, a 48.875 score, as Penn won the championship. Junior Kirsten Strausbaugh was the final gymnast competing in the meet. If she earned anything less than a 9.85 score, the Tigers would win the title. She responded with a 9.875 score to finish first on floor and win the meet for Penn.
“It is very disappointing to come so close and not win,” said Coach Vicki Chliszczyk, who was named as the ECAC Coach of the Year for the second time. “We left the door open just a crack and Penn took advantage of it. We really had a great year and we were the best team in the ECAC all year long. Unfortunately, we came up short today.”
The Tigers, who came into the meet having won 14 of the last 16 ECAC championships, started off on vault and grabbed an early lead. Led by Catanzaro’s ECAC record 9.975 score, the Tigers had a seasonal high 49.075 team score. Senior Lindsay Poplaski also had a career high vault score with a 9.925 while senior Avis Hixon had a seasonal high 9.85.
After vault, the Tigers competed on bars and earned a 48.60 team score. Catanzaro led the Tigers on beam with her 9.85 score while sophomore Allison Antenucci earned a 9.775 score. Poplaski contributed a 9.70 score while freshman Samantha Lutz had a 9.675 score.
When Penn came up with a 48.70 bars score, the Tigers led by 0.20 points at the midpoint of the meet.
Over the past few weeks, the Tigers had been very consistent on balance beam. However, they ran into problems at the ECAC Meet and dropped out of first place. The Tigers had to count a fall on beam and earned a 47.80 team score. When Penn received a 48.05 on beam, the Quakers moved slightly ahead as the teams went to the final rotation.
Freshman Janis Konkle was the Tigers’ top performer on beam as she earned a 9.725 score while classmate Lauren Ross had a 9.65 score. Sophomore Alexa Davis, who missed most of the season with an injury, earned a 9.625 while Poplaski received a 9.60 score.
Trailing by 0.05 points, the Tigers competed on floor exercise first. Senior Alyssa Dittman led off for the Tigers and earned a career high 9.725 score, giving the Tigers a great start. After senior Kady Sullivan had a 9.625 score, Poplaski posted a 9.775 score. Catanzaro followed with a 9.80 score before Hixon received a 9.75 score. Junior Britney Russell closed out the rotation with a 9.85 score, giving the Tigers a 48.90 on the final rotation. Knowing that they were done with a 194.375 team score, the Tigers sat down and watched Penn steal the championship away.
The Tigers’ hopes were high after Megan Milavec led off on floor and received a 9.625 score. After Katie Graham had a 9.45, the final four Penn gymnasts each received a career high floor score. Makeda Constable earned a 9.75 before Amber Woo came up with a 9.80. Then, junior Dana Bonincontri came up with a clutch performance as she earned a 9.825 score, setting the stage for Strausbaugh’s meet-winning 9.875 score.
In her final meet as a Tiger, Catanzaro finished fifth in the all-around with a 38.825 score. In addition to her record performance on vault, she had a 9.85 on bars, a 9.20 on beam and a 9.80 on floor.
Poplaski was third in the all-around with her career high 39.00 score. Poplaski was second on vault with a 9.925 and earned a 9.70 on bars, a 9.60 on beam and a 9.775 on floor. She became the 16th gymnast in school history to earn a 39.00 all-around score.
While Penn won the meet with a 194.40 team score and the Tigers were second (194.375), Temple placed third (192.45). Cornell took fourth place (192.35) while Brown was fifth (192.25). William and Mary (191.925) took sixth place and Yale finished seventh (191.45).