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By Anita Nham, Student Staff Writer    
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Every year, the NCAA Regionals is an opportunity for collegiate women's gymnastics team to compete and try to advance to the national championships. This is also the time for collegiate gymnasts, who have been training day-in and day-out for their entire lives, to make a statement on each event, in order to fight for a chance to compete at nationals.

But for senior Emma Sibson, during the 2017 NCAA Regionals, her main focus was not about earning the highest score. She was simply happy to have one final opportunity to compete in gymnastics as a Nittany Lion.

Sibson was diagnosed with lupus on January 9, 2017, just two days after the Penn State's women's gymnastics team's first competition of the season, a victory in a quad meet against Bowling Green, BYU and Temple. It was the first appearance for Sibson since February 6, 2016, during her junior season. In her return, Sibson competed on vault and earned a score of 9.725. 

Lupus is a chronic inflammatory disease that occurs when a person's immune system attacks his or her own tissues, organs, joints or skin. The autoantibodies that attack and destroy the healthy tissue can cause inflammation, pain and damage in various parts of the body. The most common signs of lupus include: fatigue and fever, joint pain and stiffness, butterfly-shaped rash on the face, chest pain, and shortness of breath. 

During her junior year (2015-16), the Allen, Texas native experienced rashes and fatigue and some of her hair started to fall out. Doctors tested her thyroid and they put her on thyroid medication, but that wasn't the problem. 

"In March of junior year, I started having Raynaud's disease, [disorder where some areas of the body, like hands or feet, turn white and go numb, in response to cold temperatures or stress], hives, rashes, severe fatigue, and mouth and tongue ulcers," Sibson said. 

In March 2016, Sibson's mother, who is a nurse, was the first person that suggested lupus after she received a picture of a butterfly-shaped rash on her daughter's face. 

This past fall, she was tested for food allergies and her results came back positive for most of the foods she ate in her everyday diet. She also began to get fevers and her joints started to ache. 

"Sometimes, I felt I could not walk up a flight of stairs," Sibson said.

Her mother came to the conclusion in December 2016 that Sibson needed to be checked for autoimmune disorders and the results came back positive for lupus. 

"My first reaction was that at least I now know exactly what is wrong with me," Sibson said. "I went to see a rheumatologist in January who confirmed the diagnosis. He started me on medications to treat the flares that I had been having for quite some time." 

Sibson was relieved to have confirmation of her condition. Her initial concern was not about getting better though; she was worried about not being able to compete in gymnastics in her final season.

 Her doctor gave her the go-ahead to continue practicing gymnastics as long as she felt okay. The coaches also made sure she was well rested in between events. Sibson returned to the line-up on February 4 against Michigan State to compete on vault and she finished in second with a season-best score of 9.850.

However, a week later, during the Ohio State meet, Sibson started to feel severe chest pain after the floor routine and knew there was more to her condition.

"I saw the cardiologist who diagnosed pericarditis [a swelling and irritation of the thin sac-like membrane surrounding the heart], associated with my lupus," Sibson said. "They put me on more medicine and said I could not do anything until I had a stress test. After the test, I was told I could not do anything that elevated my heart rate."

It appeared Sibson was out for the rest of the season. She was not able to compete in five meets, including the senior meet against Pittsburgh, the B1G Five Qualifier and the Big Ten Championships.  

"I wasn't healthy enough to compete, but I think you can never have enough people on the sidelines, cheering you on or helping you out," Sibson said. "I was very grateful that I was healthy enough to still travel, participate and be able to cheer on the girls."

This was her senior season, though. She didn't want her gymnastics career to end. She wanted to have a chance to demonstrate her gymnastics skills one final time. 

"They didn't think I would be able to return, but surprisingly, I competed in vault [at the NCAA Regionals]," Sibson said. "It was very exciting [to find out I was able to compete]. I called the cardiologist on my own. I told him I had been feeling better, no chest pain. I just asked, 'Can I please just compete? This meet? Just on vault?', and he said I could with the stipulation that I was monitored closely and promised that I would stop if I had any chest pain. I had just a few practices to get back into shape enough to vault, but that was enough for me."

After consulting with coaches Kera Molinaro and Josh Nilson, at the NCAA Gainesville Regional on April 1, Sibson tied for 11th on vault with a 9.825 in front of 5,214 fans.

"She thought that she was going to be done with the sport, and to have a second chance, which was amazing for her diagnosis, she was really excited about the opportunity," Molinaro said.  

Sibson was extremely grateful for the opportunity, but she officially knew that it would be her last competitive meet.

"The day after arriving back from regionals, I was in the emergency room with severe chest pain, but it was different than the one with my heart," Sibson said. "I now have pleurisy (inflammation of the tissues that line the lungs and chest cavity), which is also associated with lupus, and was started on steroids. Three days later, I had a kidney biopsy which shows that lupus has caused inflammation in my kidneys, so I was started on a medicine that will suppress my immune system." 

The senior is recovering and feeling better after getting her recent medications. She is focusing on the last couple of weeks of school, trying to catch up on work and hoping there are no setbacks for graduation.

"Personally, I do not think you ever truly adapt to having lupus," Sibson said. "It is something you will fight your entire life. Some days, you might even forget you have lupus, and some days will be the harder days when you might spend up to a week in the hospital or adding another medication to your already numerous prescription pills in one day. I think that's the scariest thing. You never know what the next day has in store for you when living with lupus. I think that is something you will never truly adapt to." 

Ever since starting gymnastics when she was four years old, Sibson has practiced with Olympians like Nastia Liukin, competed on a collegiate team, earned Big Ten Freshman of the Week twice, captured numerous event titles, and much more.

"I've had so many [memories]," Sibson said. "I think just having the opportunity to compete for a collegiate team and Penn State is the best. It's an amazing school, and although it's so big, it's like one big family. In general, my time here has been an amazing experience."

 After graduation, her main goal is to regulate medications and get better. She is also excited to be getting a puppy, and one day, she hopes to become a collegiate gymnastics coach. Nonetheless, she wants everyone to understand and spread awareness about lupus. 

"What I want people to know from my story is that lupus is a real disease and can be debilitating during a flare," Sibson said. "I wish that everyone who has symptoms seeks out the care they need. Do not let someone dismiss your symptoms. To those who have family, friends, teammates or co-workers with lupus, try to be supportive and understanding.  Suggesting they would make up these symptoms to get out of work, school or normal life is plain ridiculous. Remember they can be "healthy" and then without much warning be in a flare causing a wide variety of symptoms. For those with Lupus, especially young people, get up and get going every day. Sometimes, it is really hard, I know, but [it's possible]."

May is Lupus Awareness Month, and though treatment for the symptoms have improved, there is no known cure for lupus.

To learn more about lupus or to donate to help find a cure, visit the website for the Lupus Foundation of America.

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By Anita Nham, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - In front of 5,214 fans, sophomore Sabrina Garcia and junior Briannah Tsang punched two tickets to the 2017 NCAA Women's Gymnastics Championships in the all-around.

At the NCAA Gainesville Regional on April 1, Tsang finished fourth in the all-around with a score of 39.250, with Garcia close behind scoring 39.050 for a seventh-place finish.

"We're really excited to get the opportunity to compete at nationals," interim co-head coach Kera Molinaro said. "It's a really exciting opportunity for them and they'll capitalize on it. We just can't wait to represent Penn State at nationals."

To earn her spot for a chance to win a national championship, Tsang was fifth on balance beam (9.850), sixth on floor (9.850), 15th on uneven parallel bars (9.800) and 25th on vault (9.750) at regionals. But, even with those results, Tsang has been working on the small details all week to make sure that she earns the top spot on all the events at nationals.

"[Preparation this week] has been the same as usual," Tsang said. "Just doing routines, practicing and trying to rest, as well. [I've been focusing] mainly on the little things and cleaning things up. I'm making sure the routines are ready for nationals." 

This weekend's trip will not be the first for Tsang as she represented Penn State last season on the floor exercise after earning a score of 9.900 at the 2016 regionals. Last year, Tsang competed in the fourth rotation in session one and tied for 16th with a score of 9.815. Overall, Tsang tied for 38th between the two sessions. 

"It was really exciting last year," Tsang said. "I only competed in floor last year, and this year, I made all-around, so that's exciting. The atmosphere was great and just seeing all these teammates that are from all over the country was exciting, but this year should be even more fun."

Garcia will be joining the fun this year as she will be competing inside the Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis, Missouri alongside Tsang.

"It's exciting," Garcia said. "I'm glad to have a teammate with me to cheer me on and I can cheer her on, as well. I'm just excited to share the experience."

Garcia will be making her national championship debut after a stellar performance at regionals. She finished second on uneven parallel bars (9.900), 25th on balance beam (9.725), 31st on floor exercise (9.725) and 34th on vault (9.700). During competition though, the thought of competing in nationals never crossed her mind. 

"I had no idea [I was a contender]," Garcia said. "I just competed until the very end since nothing is over until it's over, and when they called my name, I was shocked and happy all at the same time." 

This season, Tsang has the highest all-around score on the team with 39.425. Garcia holds the second highest all-around score of 39.400 as of February 4 against Michigan State, and is ready to show the world what she can do. 

"My expectations for myself are to just keep doing what I've been doing all season - to focus, stay calm, be ruthless, hit my routines, and if I need any help from Bri, I know she'll be there for me," Garcia said.

These two Nittany Lions have great confidence in themselves, and so do their coaches.

"Both Bri and Sabrina are leaders, not only in their words but in their actions," interim co-head coach Josh Nilson said. "They come in the gym and have great attitudes. They work really hard and they do everything that we ask. They both communicate very well with the coaches, so they're leaders in every sense of the word. We're really proud of them." 

Even though the rest of the Penn State women's gymnastics team won't be heading to St. Louis, Missouri to cheer on Garcia and Tsang, they have been supporting their teammates in the gym during practices. 

"The mood in the gym has been really good," Molinaro said. "[Tsang and Garcia] are super fired-up. They've had a lot of support from their teammates coming in and cheering for them, which was really nice to see and they feel really good. They're excited about it."

Both Tsang and Garcia have accomplished so much this season already. This weekend, they could add on to what has already been a great season for them as individuals, and the team as a whole. 

"Having Bri and Sabrina both there will be good for the team because nationals next year is being held in the same arena, so having them be able to come back and tell the team what it's all about will help us on our quest to nationals next year," Nilson said. "It's also really good to have Penn State represented especially since [Bri and Sabrina] worked really hard to be there and we're really proud of them."


By Anita Nham, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State women's gymnastics team is looking to be the 2017 national champion.

Before that goal can be realized, the Nittany Lions need to secure a top-two finish at the NCAA Regionals on Saturday to earn a spot to compete for a national championship.

The team will compete in the Gainesville Regional against No. 3 Florida, No. 10 Georgia, No. 15 Missouri, No. 30 New Hampshire and No. 35 North Carolina. 

"We were ecstatic [when we found our regional," sophomore Sabrina Garcia said. "Not only is it somewhere warm, but it's going to be a very good match-up." 

Penn State is ranked No. 33 out of 35 teams in the NCAA Regionals, but they're not letting the rankings affect the performances. 

"The girls are very excited to be going to Florida, so that was a great start, and overall, we just try to focus on our routines and what we can control, not who we're competing against," interim co-head coach Kera Molinaro said. 

"They're just focusing on their performance and putting together 24 routines," agreed interim co-head coach Josh Nilson.

Two weeks ago, the Nittany Lions tied for sixth-place at the 2017 Big Ten Women's Gymnastics Championships with a score of 195.200. The team is only hoping to get better from then. As the team gets prepared for the weekend, they are working on the little things in order to place first or second at regionals. 

"We have been doing the same things we have been doing all season," Garcia said. "We've just been working out details and getting the extra quarter-tenth on each event."

Garcia has competed in regionals before, so she will know the ins and outs of the event. For others, it will be an entirely different experience. Freshman Kristen Politz has been a standout this season competing in the all-around for Penn State. Even though this will be her first time at the NCAA Regional, the team and coaches know that she will succeed. 

"We're actually really excited about one of our freshman this week, Kristen Politz," interim co-head coach Molinaro said. "She's going to be a adding a little bit of difficulty into her floor routine, which is very exciting. She's been working all year, and it's finally ready to go in. We're looking to her to have an awesome meet as well as all the returners. I think they're ready and know what to expect." 

No one knows how Penn State will do this weekend, but the gymnasts are confident in their ability to rise to the top when it matters most.

"I think we have a good chance to do some really great things there," senior Emma Sibson said. "We haven't fully put everything together, like we haven't had our best performance yet. I'm just super confident. We're known for doing it when it counts, and it counts this weekend, so we're just riding on that - that we're going to make it to nationals." 

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By Anita Nham, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It was a decision between dance and gymnastics for senior Nicole Medvitz. 

At the age of six, she had to make a choice that would shape her future. But 15 years later, she doesn't regret her decision at all.

"I started [gymnastics] when I was about four years old, just taking regular classes," senior Medvitz said. "Then, when I was six, I was asked to join pre-team, and it just started from there. I remember the day that I got asked to join pre-team because I had to choose between dance and gymnastics. I choose gymnastics and I'm really glad that I did."

Medvitz's high school gymnastics career was nothing short of prolific. She won three straight Junior Olympic National Championships on the balance beam in 2011, 2012 and 2013, won the New Jersey State Championship in the all-around in 2011 and 2012, and was named the 2010-11 New Jersey Gymnast of the Year.

When she was looking at colleges where she could continue to develop her high-level gymnastics skills, she knew that Penn State was the exact place she was looking for.

"I chose Penn State because when I visited, I just loved the atmosphere, the campus, and the amount of Penn State pride everyone has here," Medvitz said. "I could really tell that it was an amazing school and I love the team. I chose it my junior year after looking at a bunch of different colleges, mostly Big Ten colleges, and a couple of other ones. It just felt like the school that fit me the most and the combination of athletics and academics was perfect." 

Medvitz's time at Penn State was been one for the record books and after every single season, she only continues to get better.

During her freshman year, Medvitz competed in all 14 of the team's meets, including the NCAA Regional Championships and at the NCAA Championships. During the Big Ten Championships, she notched her career-best of 9.850 on uneven bars. 

Throughout sophomore year, Medvitz continued to contribute solid routines on the uneven bars and balance beam, but during her junior year, she took her performances to a whole new level. On March 12, 2016, at the Big Five Qualifier, Medvitz earned a score of 9.975 on the balance beam, which is tied for the fifth-highest score in program history. 

"I always say to her, 'You have ice in your veins,' because it doesn't matter who she comes after, what the circumstance is, she just attacks her routines," interim co-head coach Kera Molinaro said. "She also has the flexibility aspect and the unique beam skills, so that separates her from a lot of other people." 

In her final season, Medvitz has continued to perform at the highest level. She has won seven balance beam titles this season, including five in Big Ten matchups. 

"She has grown a lot," co-head coach Molinaro said. "She has blossomed into such a confident gymnast. She's always been an awesome beam worker, but this year, she's just on a new level where she just smiles before her beam routine, and I know she's going to go up and hit it how she does in practice every day." 

For Medvitz, there is nothing better than getting on the beam and performing a great routine.

"[Getting off the beam], it's just the feeling of excitement," Medvitz said. "The ultimate excitement you could possibly get." 

The balance beam may be the most challenging event for some gymnasts with its mere width of four inches, nonetheless Medvitz never stumbles when she's up there.

"It's imperative actually [to have a good anchor]," Molinaro said. "You need a beam anchor that you know can handle any situation and someone that can just close out the event for you regardless of what happened in front of her. She's been a rock for us all year." 

With the NCAA Regionals and Championships approaching, Medvitz's season is coming to an end, but sports will always be a part of her life.

"I'm hoping to work in the sports industry because sports is my passion and something I really love," Medvitz said. 

The Paramus, NJ native is planning to use the experience that she gained at her summer internship with Nike to pursue her dream. 

"That was a ton of fun," Medvitz said. "I really love the company and I learned so much about what it takes to work in such a large industry. Everyone there really loves sports, too. I was also able to explore Oregon a lot, so that was very different from the East Coast, but it was a lot of fun."

Even with only a few more competitions left, Medvitz is hoping to use her time to be the best teammate and leader she can possibly be.

"She's really come out of her shell the last two years," Molinaro said. "She gives her teammates really good advice and she speaks up a lot. She's always happy, has a great attitude, and you can count on her to bring excitement in the gym. She's just an even keel; she doesn't get super high or super low. She is a solid, consistent individual." 

The most important lesson Medvitz has for any gymnast is to "enjoy every moment," and that is exactly what she will be doing for the rest of the season. 

"I'm just really glad that I get to represent such a great school and I just have so much pride for this school," Medvitz said. "Being able to leave a legacy is really something that means a lot to me, and I'm hoping that we pave the way for the future so that Penn State gymnastics continues to get better."


By Anita Nham, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Based on the rankings for collegiate women's gymnastics teams, there may have been doubts on how Penn State would perform at the Big Five Qualifier this past weekend. However, the NIttany Lions team ignored the outside noise, put all their effort into each routine, and finished third with a score of 195.450.

With a top-three finish, the Nittany Lions will begin their quest for the Big Ten title during the evening session of the Big Ten Championships at Piscataway, NJ on Saturday. 

"The [Big Ten Qualifier] is a big confidence booster for them," interim co-head coach Josh Nilson said. "We were not supposed to make the evening session. We had a bit of a rocky start on uneven bars, but they pulled it together, came through in a big way on balance beam, and just kept the momentum going. Going from not supposed to be in the evening session to 'making it', it's a huge confidence booster for them." 

Coming off its fifth-highest score of the season, the Nittany Lions learned what they had to focus on to capture the conference title - the small details.

"The last couple of weeks, we have been focusing on our level," said Nilson. "We are going to continue focusing on the team and really talking to them about the little things. Focusing on the small details is really what [we've been] working on all week, and fortunately, we're up to full strength in all of our lineups, so really, it's all about us and the small things this weekend." 

For junior Briannah Tsang, the Big Ten Championships will be nothing new for her. She knows what's on the line and knows how to handle the pressure from all the different teams. Nonetheless, she understands that there could always be room for improvements.

"We're all just trying to fix the minor details and hope we can gain little half-tenths here and there," Tsang said.

Tsang has been working all season long for this weekend and is prepared to do her best.

"The upperclassmen, they're extremely motivated," Nilson said. "They're pushing the younger athletes. The upperclassmen want to perform at their very best and they're pushing the entire team. The leadership on this team has come together and they're pushing really hard. They want to surprise people this weekend." 

After the Big Five Qualifier, four Nittany Lions earned All-Big Ten honors. Tsang and sophomore Sabrina Garcia received First Team All-Big Ten honors. Senior Nicole Medvitz and freshman Kristen Politz got mentions for the Second Team All-Big Ten. 

Even though this is Politz's first time competing in the championship, the coaches know that she is as good as any of the other gymnasts. 

"Kristen understands her gymnastics and she trusts herself," Nilson said. "When we talk to her, we just simplify it for her. We make it something that she has done her whole life and I think we'll be focused on her performance, which is something we've worked on really for the last few weeks; focusing on the controllable."

Tsang hopes to use her leadership and experience to help the freshmen, and she's ready to tell the world what Penn State gymnastics is all about.

"I hope that we can bring the freshmen in there, make sure they have a lot of fun, and just do what we normally do," Tsang said. "We're going to carry the momentum from the weekend and keep the ball rolling. We're all really excited for Big Ten's and showing everyone what we can do."


By Anita Nham, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - When senior Christina Postiglione was in middle school and high school, she had her heart set on Penn State. She knew that she wanted to be a collegiate gymnast as well as a Nittany Lion, so when she was offered a full-ride to attend school in Happy Valley, she accepted the offer without thinking twice about it.

"I'm from New York and my dream was always to get a full-ride to a big school, I always had my eye on Penn State," Postiglione said. "I came to the camps and I just fell in love with it and the atmosphere. When I was offered [a scholarship], I didn't hesitate to say yes."

However, Postiglione's time on the women's gymnastics team hasn't been typical. She injured a knee in high school and had surgery, but then, when she came to Penn State, her surgery had to be redone. This set her back a whole year as she did not officially compete during her freshman season.

The 5'0 gymnast officially competed for the first time on February 21, 2015, her sophomore year against then-No. 24 Michigan State. She was able to compete on the uneven bars and balance beam in eight of the team's 12 meets that season, including the NCAA Regional Championships. Her career-high on uneven bar was 9.825 in the Big Ten Championships and on balance beam, she earned a 9.850 against West Virginia. 

"My first time competing my sophomore year, it was exhilarating," Postiglione said. "The adrenaline that you feel and just the joy and happiness that you get out of accomplishing your goals and putting up a good score for your team, it's just an amazing feeling."

 Unfortunately, this would be the only season that Postiglione would be able to compete for the Penn State women's gymnastics team as she would reinjure her knee later that year. 

"I've had multiple ACL years, which has been pretty hard, but I have come back from three ACL tears, and I just tore it for the fourth time, which is leaning me to retire, but I wouldn't have changed my experience [at Penn State] for anything," Postiglione said. "It has taught me how to be strong mentally within the sport, and that's a big aspect of gymnastics, so it's been pretty cool." 

Even though Postiglione isn't putting chalk on her hands to perform on the uneven bars or practicing for the beam, she has taken a new role on the team - the supporter. 

"She's grown a lot since her first year," interim co-head coach Kera Molinaro said. "Everyone looks to Tina. I would say, she has sort of like a motherly role on the team. Everyone knows that, at any point, they can go to her for support and she's so inspirational to everyone. She cheers all the time and she gives you a big smile and a hug when you need it, so I think all the girls feel like they have so much support from her." 

Her most valuable lesson though is not about skills nor practicing; it's about having fun.

 "I would tell [the freshmen] to really just enjoy every second," Postiglione said. "There's going to be a lot of obstacles that you're going to have to overcome and it's not going to be easy, but it's going to make you into who you are."

 Her drive and initiative are not just in the gym, but also in the classroom. Postiglione earned Academic All-Big Ten honors her junior year.

 In May, she will be graduating with a degree in psychology, and though she can't compete anymore, her future will be in sports, no matter what. 

"I choose psychology because I interact with people very well," Postiglione said. "I actually came in as a kinesiology major and wanted to do physical therapy. After my first semester, I was like, 'Yup. That's definitely not for me.' I like how I interacted with people and I want to be a sport psychologist in the future. I just fell in love with it, and now it's my new passion. After graduation, I plan on going to graduate school for sports psychology and then later down the road getting my doctorate." 

Last Saturday evening, Postiglione attended her last meet at Rec Hall, and it was something she will never forget. 

"It's been absolutely amazing," Postiglione said. "It's really bittersweet that it's almost over, but I've enjoyed every second of it...[I'm going to miss] the crowd's energy and Penn State pride in Rec Hall the most. I'm going to miss that so much and just being on the floor." 

Nonetheless, there are memories at Penn State that Postiglione will carry forever.

"My personal favorite time at Penn State would probably be competing beam," Postiglione said. "I love beam so much and that's my favorite event. Probably just looking back at Penn State and feeling that feeling of knowing that you just hit a really good routine, that's probably the best experience of my life."


By Anita Nham, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- At the beginning of each meet, the Penn State women's gymnastics team does a spirited "P-S-U" cheer to get themselves energized and ready for competition.

On Saturday afternoon, seniors Nicole Medvitz, Christina Postiglione, and Emma Sibson were the three loudest gymnasts in the group huddle. This is because it was a special meet for each of them - it would be their final meet to cap off their time at historic Rec Hall.

"I thought we did great today," Medvitz said. "We came out here and it wasn't our best vaulting rotation, but we went to bars and we stuck so many dismounts. The energy was so high and we took that to each event. It was probably the most fun meet I ever had." 

It was the final home meet of the season and each Nittany Lion delivered a strong and heartwarming performance in their 195.200-193.525 win against Pittsburgh.

For Medvitz, it was a meet that she will never forget. The Paramus, N.J. native opened up the meet by performing her last routine on vault in Rec Hall. She finished with a 9.575 to place tenth. But on the next event, the uneven parallel bars, she delivered a great score of 9.825 to place third. 

"Nicole [Medvitz] on bars, she was lights out tonight," interim co-head coach Josh Nilson said. "That's what we see in the gym, and it was absolutely fantastic. [I'm] very proud of her." 

From there, she excelled on her final event of the evening, balance beam. Medvitz performed a near flawless performance to place first with a 9.875.

"It feels great [to place with those scores]," Medvitz said. "I always love when I can help my team out in any way that I can, and just to end on a great note, it feels amazing."

Since her freshman year, Medvitz has competed in every one of Penn State's meets, minus one during her sophomore year. Normally she simply goes through each event, but Saturday evening was different.

"It was pretty crazy just thinking that it's my last time walking in [Rec Hall] and my last time competing, but I just wanted to enjoy every moment, look around and take some extra time to just be grateful for what I have here and everything that I've been given," Mevitz said. 

Though Postiglione and Sibson didn't compete, they were embracing all the energy from the crowd and were supporting their teammates the entire time. 

"What we told [the girls] to focus on was to just "enjoy it, absolutely enjoy it," Nilson said. "Tonight is the night for the seniors. Tonight is the night for the team. And they did that. They did a beautiful job"

12445048.jpegBy Anita Nham, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - During the school year, sophomore Mason Hosek, freshman Tess McCracken, and senior Emma Sibson are normally over 1,300 miles away from their hometowns in Texas. This Sunday, however, these three Nittany Lions will be returning back to their Texas home as the Penn State women's gymnastics team takes on Sacramento State, Texas Woman's University and Western Michigan in the team's second quad-meet of the season.

"It's going to be really cool [competing in Texas]." Sibson said. "There's going to be a lot of people there that Tess, Mason and I, have all grown up with, not just competing but watching their meets. A lot of little girls that go to the gyms that we went to will be there too, so that will be a lot of fun...I know a few girls from my gym are coming, a few family friends and my mom. I've been getting Facebook messages from a whole bunch of people back home who are excited to come to the meet."

For other Penn State gymnasts, it might be new for them to compete at the Kitty Magee Arena at Texas Woman's University, but for these three gymnasts, they're just taking a trip back to a familiar gym.

"I've competed in that arena year after year after year," Hosek said. "We had State there almost every year, so it's kind of going back home for me, which is nice, but at the same time, I'm really excited to do it as a college gymnast and for everybody who hasn't gone to Texas to come with us."

Sibson has also competed in the Kitty Magee Arena multiple times, so she is using that to her advantage.

"We know the equipment pretty well and the layout of the gym," Sibson said. "It's a little bit different where the bars are kind of on a diagonal a little bit. It's also an advantage of letting our team know how the gym is setup and how it runs."

The gym is also a familiar one for McCracken, and although she isn't competing, she is excited for the atmosphere.   

"It will be the same but different because same arena, but different atmosphere and competition style," McCracken said. "I feel like it's going to be really great. I know there are a lot of alumni that are coming to it and that will be a lot of fun. I feel like we're really going to be able to get in there, win and really pull it together by making the small adjustments to do a really good job out there in Texas."

Even with the distance, there will be plenty of Penn State women's gymnastics fans watching the meet to support Hosek, McCracken, Sibson, and the rest of the Nittany Lions.

"I have about 20 people coming to the meet, so it will be a good amount of people and I think it will be really great because it's a pretty small arena, so hopefully, it will be pretty packed," Hosek said. "I'm really excited to go home for a little, have a great time and win."

Every meet, head coach Jeff Thompson knows how prepared and talented these gymnasts are, but by being back in Texas on Sunday, he's putting a little more faith into them.

"Tess won't be competing, but I think it will be exciting for Mason and Emma," coach Thompson said. "They both should be in three events each. Mason has competed at Texas Woman's University, she said like 45 times growing up, so she knows the arena and equipment setup well. I think it will be fun for them to be back in their home state and to have their teammates there. We look for them to do a great job leading us this weekend."


By Anita Nham, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State women's gymnastics team finished off its Big Ten regular season home schedule on Saturday afternoon in a double-dual meeting with the men against Ohio State.

Despite a 195.950-195.850 setback against the No.18 Buckeyes, numerous Nittany Lions had stellar performances.

One Nittany Lion in particular that stood out was junior Briannah Tsang, who tied for first in the all-around with Ohio State's Alexis Mattern. With a score of 39.400, Tsang recorded her highest all-around of the season.

"It's really exciting," Tsang said. "I always love improving on my own gymnastics and I'm honored to win the Ann Carr award."

Prior to Saturday evening, her highest all-around score was 39.350 from the first meet of the season against Bowling Green, BYU and Temple, but that wasn't the only record broken during the meet. Tsang also logged her best score on floor exercise this season with a 9.900 to finish second on the event, which tied with sophomore Sabrina Garcia as the team's top score. 

Tsang also placed second on the uneven parallel bars and third on balance beam and vault. 

"Briannah was outstanding," head coach Jeff Thompson said. "Her landings on every event were great and we've been working really hard in the gym on her floor landings. She gets a little bit too excited at previous meets and had a couple problems with dialing down, but she looked calm, poised, and under controlled today, and it paid off. 39.400 in the all-around is a great score."

Another Nittany Lion with an amazing individual performance was Garcia. She finished third in the all-around with 39.325 after coming up first on balance beam (9.875), second on uneven parallel bars (9.900), fourth on floor (9.850) and ninth on vault (9.700). Garcia also earned first place on beam after marking her highest score of the season in that event. 

"I thought we showed a lot of heart and we fought until the end," Garcia said. "For me, I just build off every meet so far, stay calm and focus, and did what I do in practice." 

All of these accomplishments were achieved in front of a white-out crowd with over 2,200 fans.

"The girls love double dual meets," coach Thompson said. "The crowd was outstanding and super loud. The competition was great and we knew it was close. After every event, I told them, 'Just keep plugging away. We're going to come back. We're going to get this team. We're going to catch them.' It looked like that right up to the very last routine and unfortunately, we came up just a little bit short. The girls did a great job and they had a lot of fun doing it." 

Even though Penn State did not get the outcome that it was expecting, there is still a bright future for the team.

"Ohio State was ranked No.18 coming into the meet and we beat them on two events and tied them on bars," coach Thompson said. "We know we need to work on vault. We need to get some better vaults and some better vault landings, but once we do that, that makes us a top-15 team and the [gymnasts] understand that now. They have a lot of confidence moving forward. We'll head to Texas next week for a meet at Texas Women's University and we plan on improving on today's performance."


By Anita Nham, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - At 13 months old, freshman Tess McCracken's mother knew that her daughter needed to start gymnastics.

 "My mom found me on top of the fridge, so she wanted me to do something with mats underneath me, and she put me into gymnastics," McCracken said.

At 11 years old, McCracken won the all-around, balance beam, and uneven bars titles at the Texas state meet.

At 14 years old, the Plato, Texas native secured the balance beam title, placed second on the uneven bars, and finished third in the all-around at the Texas state meet. She also placed eighth on the balance beam at Junior Olympic Nationals.

All of this was accomplished before her second year of high school. 

"She's from [World Olympic Gymnastics Academy], one of the best gyms in the country," head coach Jeff Thompson said. "One of her teammates was on the Olympic team that just won gold and did quite well for herself." 

While she was in high school, McCracken trained with Madison Kocian, a 2016 Olympic silver medalist. Though McCracken was already a Junior Olympic National Alternate in 2014 and a Junior Olympic National Qualifier in 2015, she knew that having Kocian around would motivate her to continue to improve.

 "Having Olympians in the gym, it kind of gives you someone to look up to in a way that it shows you what you can be and it keep you from being, 'Oh, I'm the best,' and from settling back," McCracken said. "It always gives you more incentive to do more because if they're the same age as you, and they're doing that, then you have that potential, as well." 

After high school, McCracken knew that she wanted to continue her career in gymnastics, but she also wanted to get a world-class education. With both of those in mind, she decided Penn State was the school for her. 

"Tess was looking mostly for academics first then gymnastics," he added.  "A lot of the top gymnasts are looking for 'which of the top 10 gymnast school can I go to?' and then what is the education like. But Tess, she was looking for a world-class education. Her bars and beam were, and still are, amazing, so the combination of her academics, her family's track record in the academic field and then her gymnastics ability is what really attracted us." 

"Penn State made me feel more welcome than any other place that I had visited," McCracken said. "I love the campus and the team, and it's a great school, especially for engineering." 

The gymnast would soon learn that being a student-athlete comes with a rigorous schedule, including countless hours spent practicing in the gym. Nonetheless, McCracken knew right away that she would have to make time for academics as well as athletics.

"I like math and science," McCracken said. "I'm good at it and I really like it because I've kind of always had a puzzle brain where I just like to figure stuff out, so I knew engineering was the best for that." 

The 5'4 freshman was injured early last semester, so she has had a slow start to this season, but that has not stopped her from pushing to be the best that she can be.

"I feel like [my experience] will keep growing and it will probably get harder, especially with school, but in the gym, I definitely don't want to sit back and let me skills go stagnant," McCracken said.  "I want to keep learning and I feel like the coaches are helping me with that. Also, the injury made me a little more driven because I saw the other girls getting their skills and hitting consistency, and that was when I was supposed to be hitting that, so since I've come back, I've been pushing hard to get up to where they are since I missed out on a month and a half." 

Even with the setback, coach Thompson knows what McCracken is capable of accomplishing. 

"I would love for her to come out and compete on bars and beams every single meet all four years," coach Thompson said. "I would love for her, as time goes on, to get into the floor lineup. She was out for quite a while in the fall, so she's behind everyone and we're not pushing her right now. We're thankful that she was able to compete floor at Illinois. But if she could get to the point where she is the main stay for us on those three events, that would be amazing."


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