With loud team cheers, a “packed Pizz” and enough energy to take on its three Ivy League opponents, the gymnastics team finished first at the Ivy Classic on Sunday, earning a team score of 195.200 — a season high, and the second-highest team score in program history.
“I’m kind of speechless,” said Head Coach Brittany Harris. “I’m so proud of them.”
Along with the winning team score, second to only last year’s program-high of 195.975, the Bears finished in the top six eight times, including five top-three placements. Julia Bedell ’25 took first on vault and floor, tying her record 9.925 score on the latter. Carolanne Van Zandt ’23 placed second on floor, Liza Marcus ’26 placed second on beam and Abby Contello ’23 placed third on bars.
“There were little highlights from everybody,” Harris said. “We were implementing the goals and all the hard work we put in over the week, and watching it come to fruition — watching everyone fight for every stick — it was a lot of fun and the energy just kept building from event to event.”
Penn finished with a score of 194.925 — just under three tenths behind Bruno — to take second place, followed by Yale and Cornell.
Sunday’s performance was “consistent and high,” with high energy starting from warmups, said Sophia Dewar ’26.
“Once we came into the meet our mentality was just like, ‘We’re gonna be champions today,’ ” Dewar said. “And we did it, which is so exciting.”
The Bears kicked off the meet on bars, with Ella Poley ’23.5 and Herald Staff Writer Maya Davis ’25 both sticking their dismounts to each earn a score of 9.750. Lauren McKeown ’24 posted a 9.700 and Contello wrapped up the event with a 9.825, tying her season-high and earning third place.
Beam started off strong for the Bears — Lauren Kramer ’24’s graceful routine and McKeown’s sharpness earned both gymnasts scores of 9.725. Davis followed with a 9.775, despite some wobbles on her aerial. Liza Marcus ’26 stuck both her acro series and dismount, posting a career-high of 9.825 and taking second place. Even with a fall late in the lineup, the Bears walked away from beam with a strong event total of 48.750, trailing Penn by only .025 headed into the second half of the meet.
While Brown did not choose the order of events, competing on bars and beam first was “ideal” for the team, Harris said. “We got bars out of the way, (and were) pretty solid on beam. Floor and vault have been our strength events, so it built and kept that momentum going.”
Bruno’s floor lineup saw each gymnast building on the previous one’s score, starting from Poley’s 9.600 and ending with Bedell’s near-perfect full-in to earn a record-tying 9.925, winning her first place. Van Zandt finished second with a 9.800, Davis earned a 9.750 to take sixth and Dewar posted a 9.725 with a routine set to an instrumental version of “Friend Like Me” from the live-action remake of “Aladdin.”
“When I’m on the floor … I try to focus on selling my dance to the crowd, but I also think of keywords for my tumbling,” Dewar said. “I’m like, ‘okay, squeeze your butt, see the landing’ — short reminders so that I can nail it and bring it home.”
On vault, each gymnast posted a 9.700 or higher — with a career-high 9.775 from Kramer, a 9.750 from Dewar, a 9.800 from Contello and a first-place 9.850 from Bedell.
With team totals this season so far topping out around 194, “the fact that today we finally surpassed 195 is really exciting,” Dewar said. “Hopefully we get a new program record this year, which would mean beating a 196.”
“The win is huge — a huge confidence booster,” Harris said. “It gives us momentum as we’re in the midway point in our season as we’re heading into GECs,” the Gymnastics East Conference Championship.
“But after every meet, no matter what, we get in on Monday and we start fresh,” she added. “Ivys are done. We stay hungry, keep working, keep building week by week.”
The Bears will continue to chase the 196 mark in the coming weeks, with a quad meet at the University of Maryland March 5 and a dual meet at the University of New Hampshire March 12, the last before GEC Championships March 18.
Correction: A previous version of the article's subheading incorrectly stated that the team finished in the top three in five events, rather than recording five top-three placements. The Herald regrets the error.
Haley Sandlow is a section editor covering science and research as well as admissions and financial aid. She is a sophomore from Chicago, Illinois studying English and French.