By Laura Finley, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For many people the transition to college can be a tough one. Krystal Welsh knows this.
It is why she came to Penn State fully prepared to take on academic courses and gymnastics. Between studying for exams and working out every day during the offseason, the freshman gymnast dedicated herself to finding the perfect balance before the women's gymnastics season started.
Now, Welsh is a key contributor to the team as she competes in the all-around
title with four other gymnasts. As the only freshman all-around competitor,
Welsh has faced obstacles on her own, overcoming each with a strong sense of
"Krystal came here knowing that she needed to be ready to go and I think that was really apparent," said senior Whitney Bencsko. "She got here and was prepared and I think that made her transition easier. She did a really good job of adjusting and did everything that she needed to do to be ready when it mattered most at the start of the season."
Freshman Lexi Carroll knows first-hand the small struggles Welsh has overcome during the first semester of college. With the two teammates rooming together at Penn State, they have helped each other navigate through the start of college life.
"We both went through the same thing with transitioning to college," said Carroll. "Krystal has definitely transitioned well especially being an all-arounder. She's really determined and won't settle for anything. She always goes above and beyond."
Welsh gives full credit to her parents and former club coach, Bob Ouellette, in preparing her for the transition to the collegiate level. She knows that without their support and guidance, it may not have been so easy.
"There's no way I could be competing at the level that I am if it wasn't for [Coach Ouellette]," said Welsh. "Knowing that over the years he has believed in me no matter what and that he has pushed me to improve has helped my confidence."
Welsh's gymnastics career started at the early age of eighteen months when her mother signed her and her siblings up for lessons. Welsh recalls she and her brother were the only ones who stuck to it, but one could say gymnastics still runs in the family.
"My family usually tries to come to all of the meets and my parents support me a lot," said Welsh. "They've been to every home meet and I love when they're able to come, but it doesn't bother me if they can't. They've seen me do it for how many years now? They know how I compete."
The women's gymnastics team knows how Welsh competes as well. With a dedicated work ethic and no excuse attitude, the freshman has been able to make constant progress in the gym, and it has not gone unnoticed.
"I think her biggest contribution is her consistency," said Bencsko. "She might not be putting up those 9.9's yet, but that will come over the next few years. Right now we know that she's a hit score and it's something that we can count if there's a fault or anything. That's one of her biggest contributions and that's huge."
This season, Welsh has competed as an all-around gymnast in each of the eight meets Penn State has participated in. Thus far, her highest score was at N.C. State, where she posted a 39.150 in all-around.
With these consistent performances each week, Welsh has proven herself to be a vital part of the team.
"Krystal has been an overall great contribution to our team in all four events this year," said assistant coach Jillian Monahan. "Not many freshmen know what to do when they make the line-up in all four events. She's a hard worker and when you give her a correction, she makes the change and does what she has to do to be successful.
Looking to the future, Welsh hopes to continue doing well for her team. With only three meets left until the Big Ten Championship, Welsh's next obstacle lies in preparing for the postseason. Her team is fully confident in her abilities though, as she has already overcome the transition of being a full time student-athlete.
"She's there for us in four events at every meet," said Bencsko. "She's reliable and we need that. Every team needs that."