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Lions Host Home Opener This Weekend

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By Sallie Sharer, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion women's gymnastics team will enter its third week of competition in the 2013 season with their home-opener against Minnesota, Kent State, and Towson on Saturday in Rec Hall at 7p.m.

8484498.jpegLast week the Lions defeated the University of Illinois-Chicago on the road, having posted their highest score of the season with a 194.150.

Freshman Samantha Musto's performance last week earned her all-around champion in Chicago with a score of 39.025, securing her second week in a row of being awarded Big Ten Freshman of the Week.

With their home opening meet on Saturday, the Lions are looking to continue their success despite the several changes they are facing this season.

The Lions will be debuting a new arena setup that head coach Jeff Thompson describes as an 'amphitheater' setup in Rec Hall that will give attendees a better view of each of the four events.

"Nobody is going to have any experience with the setup this weekend," Thompson said. "It's a brand new configuration. We're changing the floor setup in order to help us better host Big Ten Championships next year, the NCAA championships, and regionals in 2014."

Another change the team is facing this season, Thompson said, is the team's approach to competition.

"We're using a little bit of a different approach this season," Thompson said. "Almost everyone has something new, and something more difficult on floor. We trained some pretty difficult tumbling and upgraded the difficulty of our routines in order to be in the hunt at the end."

With amped up routines and skills, the Lions are looking for Penn State to gain some consistency and more confidence this weekend.

Co-captains, Sharaya Musser and Madison Merriam, are the only two seniors on the team, and with seven new Lions, including an LSU transfer, Sidney Sanabria-Robles, the seniors will lead the team in the fight against Minnesota, Kent State, and Towson on Saturday.

Between Musser and Merriam, the co-captains hold the highest scores in all four events, with the highest score in all-around going to Musser.

Musser posted the second-highest all-around score after Musto last Friday against Chicago with a score of 38.600. Sanabria-Robles competed in the all-around competition for the first time in her collegiate gymnastics career last Friday and posted a 38.425.

Last year the Lions defeated Minnesota 195.475-195.150 on the road. The Lions did not compete against Towson or Kent State last season.

After the team improved their score from their first meet in Denver two weeks ago from 193.725 to 194.150 last weekend in Chicago, the Lions are looking to improve their score again at home in Rec Hall.

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