By AVIS HIXON
Tiger Gymnastics Co-Captain
As we prepared for our biggest meet of the season, we left campus on Friday morning for the short trip to Philadelphia for our practice day at The Palestra at the University of Pennsylvania.
On our way to Philadelphia, we watched a movie, "Friday Night Lights."
It was an unusually warm day and it was very stuffy inside The Palestra. We had a good practice session. The practice session also gave us to visit with some of our friends on other teams that we haven’t seen all season. During the season, we usually arrive at the meet and warm-up and compete. There isn't much time for socializing. But, the practice day gave us a chance to say hello.
After practice, we took a long bus ride to our hotel, which was right next to King of Prussia Mall. The traffic was really heavy and we were glad to arrive at the hotel.
Once we got to the hotel, we had some time to relax and met for a team meeting.
Around 7:00 p.m., we had dinner at California Pizza Kitchen and many of our parents joined us. Our coach, Vicki Chliszczyk, got a surprise at the restaurant. Her parents were at the restaurant. They driven all the way from Ontario, Canada to surprise her.
When we got back to the hotel, the underclassmen gave each senior a scrapbook. Everyone on the team made a personal page for each of us.
Saturday was an early day for us. The meet was scheduled for 12 noon and warm-ups were going to start at 9:30 a.m. We left the hotel at 8:00 a.m. and made it to The Palestra in about 20 minutes. We found that traffic isn't nearly as heavy on Saturday morning as it is on Friday evening.
We arrived at The Palestra at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday. After we arrived, we sat on the bus for a few minutes and watched a new pre-meet video the coaches had prepared for us. That got all of us excited.
We arrived at The Palestra so early that we were locked out. After a few minutes, someone finally came along and opened the door.
With seven teams in the meet, we knew it was going to be a long day but we were ready.
We had a rotation schedule of vault, bars, bye, beam, bye, floor, bye. Penn was going to be following us the entire meet and that turned out to be a deciding factor in the outcome.
We couldn’t have had a better start to the meet. Alyssa Dittman, Britney Russell, Lauren Ross and I had solid vaults. That helped to set up setting Lindsay Poplaski and Kacy Catanzaro for some huge scores.
They both delivered in a big way. Lindsay thrilled the crowd with a career high 9.925 score. Then, Kacy came up with her best vault ever. The judges scored her 10.0 and 9.95 which gave her a career high 9.975 score, setting an ECAC Meet record.
Our great start gave us a season high 49.075 team score on vault.
We carried that energy over to bars where Lindsay, Allison Antenucci and Kacy were our top scorers. Lindsay had a 9.70 score while Alli earned a 9.775 score. Then, Kacy got a 9.85 score, a career high.
We went back to the locker room to relax during our bye.
Beam started off well for us. But towards the end, we made some mistakes and had two falls. Luckily, Alexa Davis picked it back up ended beam with a nicely hit routine.
We had another bye, which most of the girls went back to the locker room but some got taped or stretched by our trainer, Courtney Blair.
When we returned for our final rotation, we learned that Penn had a very slight lead on us. Penn was beating us by 0.05 points but we were confident.
With the same senior-illed line up that we had been using for the last couple meets, we were so excited to be ending on floor.
Everyone hit their routine and we had so much fun. We earned a 48.90 score on floor and we were optimistic that score would be enough for us to win.
After we finished up, we went back to the locker room and changed.Then, we came out and sat in the stands so could see how they finished up.
It was very frustrating to watch their scores come up but we kept our heads held high. Following that rotation we went to the hall to march out again for awards and our fans gave us lots of love, reassuring us that we did a great job and had an amazing season.
We ended up taking second place to UPenn, losing by just 0.025, the narrowest margin possible.
In the post-meet awards ceremonies, Vicki received the ECAC Coach of the Year award for the second year in a row while Kacy received the ECAC Gymnast of the Year award.
Following the awards, we thanked our families and for the seniors, we said goodbye to all the other parents that have been supporting us for so many years.
The Antenucci’s treated us to Pat’s cheesesteaks and we watched Finding Nemo on the way home.
On Monday we found out that Kacy, Lindsay and I qualified for NCAA Regionals at Arkansas on April 7.
Kacy will rotate with UCLA, Lindsay will rotate with Arkansas and I will rotate with Maryland.