By Samantha DelRosso, GoPSUSports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- With "heart" and "energy", the Penn State women's gymnastics team will take on the Big Ten Championships this weekend. The Nittany Lions are hosting the competition for the first time in seven years.
Each week, the Lions choose one word for the "Word of the Week" to focus on before each meet. This week, however, with it being a championship meet, the team decided to focus on two words: heart and energy.
"The heart of our team is just amazing. Our chemistry, helping one another every time we get up [for an event]," junior Krystal Welsh said.
With the championship meet being at home for the Lions, there is sure to be a lot of "energy."
"Because it's in our house, there is going to be a whole lot of energy and we're going to bring a lot of energy too," senior Kassidy Stauder said. "It's championship season, it's championship competition. So it's that much more exciting."
Hosting the championship meet provides familiarity and the opportunity for a large cheering section for the Nittany Lions.
"I'm just so excited to hear our fans in the stands. Any time we go to Big Tens anywhere, we only have a certain amount of people there. This will have family, friends, and other athletes cheering us on," Welsh said. "It makes it so much easier to compete in our own arena, too."
The 14th-ranked Nittany Lions will be competing in Session Two at 5 p.m. on Saturday with No. 8 Michigan, No. 9 Nebraska and No. 13 Illinois. The Lions defeated Illinois and Michigan, but fell to Nebraska at home earlier in the season.
"Everyone is a tough competitor because it depends on who shows up that night," Stauder said. "But looking at the season, [the toughest competitor] would be Nebraska. We lost to them at a home meet and we definitely want to protect our house against them."
Leading up to the meet, the Nittany Lions will be doing different many things to prepare.
In practice, the group worked on the "little details".
"We're definitely going to work on sticks. That's always our only downfall," Stauder said. "At our last meet, we had an incredible meet, but we just left some tenths out there on the floor with sticks."
The night before the meet, the gymnasts and coaches come together for a team meeting. On the day of the meet, the team has a "POP" meeting. "POP" means "Pride of the Process". In this meeting, the gymnasts participate in mental routines and get themselves in the competition mode.
Welsh and Stauder found the three "keys" to being successful in the Big Ten Championships:
1. Have fun:
"We do our best when we are having fun. Our coaches
always say that our best is good enough," Stauder said. "We just need to go out there and have fun
and do our best."
2. Transferring what the team does in practice into the meets:
"It's important to transfer what we do in the White Building
to what we're going to do in Rec Hall, not letting the crowd or the judges sitting
watching let that affect us," Stauder said.
"Go out there and know that everything in the universe is
going to happen the way it's supposed to," Stauder said.
"We know we're going to hit. We know we are going to do well," Welsh said.
Watch the Lions compete to become the champions of the Big Ten in Rec Hall on Saturday evening.