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Co-Captain Madison Merriam Shows Perseverance Through Injury

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By Sallie Sharer, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - When senior and co-captain of the women's gymnastics team, Madison Merriam, performed on the uneven bars in the season home opener in Rec Hall, a potentially serious injury had Merriam concerned that her foot was broken.

8553182.jpeg"When I first landed and got up, I was like 'that hurt,' and when I started walking it hit me, and it was pretty painful at the time," Merriam said.

In the middle of a swing down during her routine, she was over too far to the side and feared kicking the separators on the apparatus, and closed her straddle too narrowly smacking the top of her foot on the low bar.

Pushing through into the dismount, head coach Jeff Thompson and Merriam feared the worst.

After a few days, and a few medical tests, Merriam found that her foot was not in fact broken, but bruised.

"When I got over the shock of it, and over the pain, I realized I was going to be okay," Merriam said. "I'm not 100 percent yet; it's still a little bit swollen and bruised. It just depends on the day, but it's at the point now where I'm okay to push through it. It's nothing excruciatingly painful."

But after a week of practice, Merriam was ready to compete again.

In the very next meet after Merriam's injury, she competed on vault and uneven bars posting a 9.825 and 9.800 respectively.

"She did bars and vault that next weekend, and she ended up sticking her vault, which is unbelievable," Thompson said.

Last week's meet was another step for Merriam when she added floor exercise to her previous vault and uneven bars lineup. Merriam posted a 9.825 on vault, 9.800 on uneven bars and a 9.850 on floor.

In Merriam's final year as a Penn State gymnast, her qualities as a talented athlete and her selfless nature leant to her being chosen, alongside senior Sharaya Musser, as co-captains to lead the Lions through the 2013 season.

Initially, Musser and Merriam were told there would be no captains named this season. Thompson wanted to see them assume those roles. They did, and through their leadership in the preseason, the only two seniors on the team were both named co-captains.

"When it came along before the Blue and White showcase, they told us that Sharaya and I would be co-captains, we were both surprised," Merriam said. "We weren't expecting it all. I think we just showed a lot of attributes during the pre-season of being captains without the coaches putting that title on us, so I guess they thought we deserved it."

Both Musser and Merriam have shared the responsibilities of being captains, but it has not changed much for Merriam.

"Just because we have been given the title of captains, at least for me, I know that it hasn't changed my perspective of my role on the team. I still respect my teammates, help them when they need it, and try to shed light on them from my experiences from previous years."

Coach Thompson hinted that Merriam would potentially be ready to take on the all-around category this weekend at Nebraska.

Though Merriam is not yet fully recovered, she is adding more to practice every day.

When asked about her expectations for the season, Merriam made it clear that winning the championship was not the ultimate goal.

"I just hope for the team that we can reach our full potential. I want to enjoy myself and embrace my last season. I don't have any specific set goals. I just want to enjoy the process."

For Merriam, the ultimate goal is to make sure by seasons end, she is left with the feeling that she, and the rest of the Lions, left it all on the mats.

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