By Anita Nham, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Penn State women's gymnastics team was on the final event of the night, the floor exercise. Freshmen Kristen Politz, sophomore Peyton Schuller, junior Oni Timothy, junior Brianna Tsang and senior Emma Sibson all came out and performed beautiful routines.
But the best of the night was from sophomore Sabrina Garcia. She channeled her inner Beyoncé to perform a near flawless routine for a score of 9.90. With her best score of the season, Garcia placed first in the floor exercise and helped Penn State to a victory over Michigan State, 195.925-194.775, in the annual Pink Meet.
"It's a humbling experience," Garcia said. "I just try to compete like how I train and stay calm. I'm really happy about [my performance]."
Garcia ended the night with a career-best of 39.400 to notch her first career all-around title and the Ann Carr award, given to the most inspirational Penn State gymnast at the meet.
"It feels amazing," Garcia said. "My great grandmother died of breast cancer, so the win was all for her and I'm really proud of it."
The Etters, Pa. native finished second on the vault and uneven parallel bars with a score of 9.850, in each. On the balance beam, Garcia came in fifth for the night with a 9.800, but shined on the floor exercise to share the event title with Michigan State's Elena Lagoski as both scored a 9.900.
"Sabrina had a great meet," head coach Jeff Thompson said. "Sabrina started off on vault with a great stick and a 9.85. She is also on bars every week. I thought she had a chance to score a 10; it was just that she hopped on her dismount just a little bit and went 9.850. Her beam was amazing and her floor was the best floor routine she's done so far this year."
Though this was Garcia's first all-around title, coach Thompson always knew that she had that potential.
"Sabrina has it in her to do that every single weekend," coach Thompson said. "Sometimes, she just tries too hard. Today, her motto was, "Go out there and have fun," and by doing that, by just going out, doing gymnastics and not thinking too much, she had a great day."
Tsang also made an impact with the third best all-around score of the evening, 39.250.
"I thought it was awesome," Tsang said. "We came together and even if we had a few mishaps here and there, we all grabbed the rope and had each other's backs. It's also always fun having a Pink Meet. We all love wearing pink, so it's nice to be able to recognize the breast cancer survivors."
In addition, it was a big meet for Penn State as a team. The Nittany Lions logged their season-best score after recording the best scores of the season on the uneven bars (49.125), the balance beam (48.875) and the floor exercise (49.100).
"I'm really proud of the girls today and the way they performed," coach Thompson said. "Today was the first meet we didn't count a fall all season...the fact that we went out and hit 23 out of 24 routines, that's the real measuring stick, and hitting under pressure. When someone falls early in the lineup and everyone else can hit their routines, that shows that that team is well-trained and they're where they need to be at this point in the year."
Even with the team's season-best score, they still have much to do before the women's and men's gymnastics teams host their second double-dual of the season next Saturday.
"We were pretty close to a 196, which is our goal right now, so every week, we're getting better. We're making progress and we just need to continue to make more and more progress before Ohio State.