Last weekend was a very exciting and eventful one. We had our first double dual of the season. We competed against SUNY Brockport, while our men's team competed against the University of Illinois. It was a great night, and both teams came out victoriously. It was really fun competing with the guys and felt just like a normal day of practice. It was also nice to finally be home again in Rec Hall with our Penn State fans after three long weeks of traveling.
Immediately after the meet we had to sign autographs, change, and run to THON. It was absolutely amazing. The atmosphere was so upbeat even at 11:00 at night. The BJC was completely packed. We got there just in time for the pep rally and got to watch all the athletes do their dances before it was our turn up. Even though it was our second year doing this, we were still just as nervous to get up and dance in front of all those people, but it ended up going great. It is always an experience to do something like that for such a great cause. The men's gymnastics team went after us and did a hilarious dance with lots of flips, and ended up winning the whole thing (even over football!). THON ended up raising $10.6 million for childhood cancer, a new record, and we couldn't be more proud! Overall, it was an incredible weekend.
This week in the gym we had some awesome workouts as a team to prepare ourselves for the meet this weekend against Ohio State. It's another double dual, and we actually traveled with the men's team this time. It was a packed bus ride for 6 hours, so we all had to share seats, but it was fun because both teams get along so well. We know it is going to be a close meet tomorrow, since we are ranked 10th and Ohio State is 11th, but we are as ready as we could possibly be, and are excited to go out there and do our thing. It should be an exciting meet!
It has been awhile since I last wrote so there is obviously a lot to update everyone on!I have to say...wow does time fly!? I feel like just yesterday we were at our first meet of the season in West Virginia just to find that we are actually now entering our eighth meet! As a team, this year has been nothing but fun and full of great experiences.We are a group of fighters who go in every competition and make the most of the experience we have been given. We have developed some amazing chemistry through all of our travels this year and I can safely say there is unconditional love towards each girl on the team.
As far as gymnastics goes, after a few weeks of traveling, it was great being home in Rec Hall again! It is always fun competing in front of our home crowd! We have also been making a lot of progress at practice.We have been in the gym focusing on the small details that are going to take us from being good to great!So far we have been making great progress with cleaning up some form issues, adding amplitude to skills and focusing on landings.We hope to see these things carry over into competition in the near future and help us increase some scores!
This past weekend was THON weekend. Our team got the honor of making up a dance for the Student Athlete Pep Rally.We ran right over from our meet and autograph session to the BJC to participate in the breathtaking event. For those of you that are not aware of what THON is, it is also known as Penn States Dance Marathon where selected Penn State Students stay on their feet for 46 hours. Penn State students and organizations work all year to raise as much money as possible to help the fight against pediatric cancer. The money raised goes towards the Four Diamonds Fund, which is charity devoted to defeating pediatric cancer through research and caring for patients at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center Children's Hospital. This year Penn State raised another record high amount, $10,686,924.83 FOR THE KIDS!What an unbelievable achievement!
Next up is Ohio State this coming weekend! We look forward to an amazing in conference competition against the Buckeyes!
By Laura Finley, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -Penn State gymnast Sharaya Musser positions herself at the
corner of the practice mat, waiting for her cue to start. Eyes focused with a
steadfast look of determination, she begins her floor routine, gliding through
each turn and floating through the air on each combination.
Musser makes it look easy, completing her routine with the
"She comes into the gym and she has the mindset just to get
it done," said associate head coach Rachelle Thompson. "I don't know if it's
her work ethic or her God-given talent, but she knows she can come in here and
knock-out the routines and make it look easy."
With this work ethic, Musser has become a standout gymnast,
catapulting herself to the front of every competition. In her third season, she
is undefeated in the all-around competition, taking the title in each of the
six meets that Penn State has competed in. With these performances, she has also
picked up four Big Ten Gymnast of the Week awards.
Musser is humble when asked about the recognition she has
received, but has her sights set on the future, and attaining the ultimate
goal. She wants more for the team.
"Two of my biggest goals for the team are winning the Big
Ten championship and qualifying for nationals as a team," said Musser. "I want
to do whatever I can to help the team get those positions. Individually I would
like to win a Big Ten championship again in all-around, and to qualify for
Nationals and hopefully place in the Top 5 individually."
This motivation and determination pushes Musser day in and
day out during practice and at competitions. She will stop at nothing to
improve herself and her routines.
"Even when she thinks she has a bad day, no one else
notices," said head coach Jeff Thompson. "That's how good she is. She's been
very successful this year. She's had less of those mental breaks and she's
really close to being able to do every routine in competition like she does in
practice. Once she gets there, the kid is unstoppable."
And Musser knows this. She acknowledges that the key to her
success lies in performing in competitions just as she does in practice. It is
all about finding the right mentality when competing, and this is something she
is working to perfect.
"My mindset is going into each workout and being efficient,"
said Musser. " I need to make every turn count and act like this is my
competition setting. I have to put myself in a competition situation and really
just try and make the most of every turn."
Musser will tell anyone that finding the right balance
between practice and competition has been a struggle for her in years past. As
a high school student, she used to practice under the direction of former
Olympic competitor Jaycie Phelps, who Musser acknowledges has instilled in her,
the physical and mental aspects of gymnastics.
"Back when I was in club, I couldn't for the life of me hit
a beam routine in competition," said Musser. "In practice I would never fall,
but in competitions, I would just fall apart. Jaycie worked with me on it, and
really helped to develop my mental toughness. That was one of the biggest
challenges for me. Learning how to compete is all mental."
Musser's ability in finding this competition mentality and completing each
routine with precision has not gone unnoticed by her fellow teammates. The team
knows it can rely on Musser when it comes to her routines.
"We all know she can hit her routines," said sophomore
Kristin Blades. "That's one person we're always confident in and it motivates
us because we want to work just as hard as her. Last year when I first got
here, I didn't really know her, but when I saw how hard she worked, I wanted to
be just like her. She's always a big motivation."
The team's confidence in Musser, has allowed Penn State to
excel at its meets, as each gymnast works harder to reach her fullest
potential. But it is not just team confidence that has gotten Penn State to
where it is today. Self-confidence is where the true power lies according to
"Coaches used to tell me 'You need to have confidence, you
need to believe in yourself'," said Musser. "People can tell you you're great,
but if you don't believe it, it's not going to happen. I would tell anyone it's
really just believing in yourself and knowing that you can succeed in practice
and in competition."
Semester two has started off on a good foot. Academically it has been a lot easier because I am already adjusted to the college life style and I have learned how to manage my time better. In terms of gymnastics, it is going great! We have competed six meets already and they all have been awesome. We just keep getting better as time goes on. It has been really exciting to learn all the traditions and things the team does to prepare and on meet day. I feel like we all just keep getting closer and closer. I love telling people I am compete on the Penn State gymnastics team! This past weekend we took a very long, eight hour bus ride to N.C. State. We had an amazing meet and scored our season high! We have so much fun and learn a lot about each other while we're on the road. It gets a little tiring traveling or competing every weekend, but it's just something I have to adjust to because I'm not used to it. So far this season has been a blast and I can't wait for the rest of it!
We had a week full of exciting and well accomplished practices. The team focused on utilizing all of our resources given to us in the gym, eliminating all of the distractions, and being focused on fine tuning the details. We left State College at 8 am and after a long but memorable bus ride, we had a team meeting which included a fun team bonding activity that brought a lot of laughs. We are all super excited and pumped for our meet tomorrow night against North Carolina State University, George Washington, and William and Mary. We are coming off five amazing meets so far this season with only one being at home.
Tomorrow we will stay focused in our "blue and white" bubble as we continue to BRING IT BACK!! After the meet we will head home to Happy Valley to prepare for our next meet at "Our House" and continue perfecting our team THON dance. It is going to be great to have a home meet next weekend so we can show all of our family, friends, alumni and fans at Penn State how hard we have been working. The meet will be a Double Dual with the Men's Gymnastics Team against SUNY-Brockport and after the meet we will be headed straight to the Bryce Jordan Center to dance in support of THON 2012! For the Kids!!!
Hope you all have been doing well! I, as well as the rest of the team, have been doing awesome lately. We're now on to our sixth meet of the season, the half way mark! We are continuing to train like champions and it is definitely reflecting in our gymnastics at competition. This upcoming weekend we have a quad meet at N.C. State, and we're super excited for it. It's another "Flip for the Cure" pink meet in support of breast cancer awareness. Next weekend we have our first double duel home meet of the season against Brockport. It's so cool to compete side by side with the Men's Gymnastics team. It's just a completely different experience then a regular meet.
Next weekend is also THON weekend! For those of you who don't know what THON is, it's a weekend long dance marathon where the Penn State student body raises money to help fund research of childhood cancer.Basically, it is the largest student run philanthropy in the world! After our meet we are going right to the Bryce Jordan Center to perform a dance we put together ourselves. We are all so excited for it!
A lot has happened this past week at Penn State. The team trained hard all week for the big meet this weekend against defending national champs, Alabama, along with Michigan State and Cornell. It was one of the most exciting meets I have ever experienced here, and the team did absolutely amazing. Every single person hit, there were no falls, and we got on a roll on the last three events, hitting one routine after another. Rec Hall was filled with Penn State fans, the most packed I've ever seen it, and you could tell that everyone was really getting into it. We ended up coming in second to Alabama by only three fourths of a tenth, which is unbelievable! I am so proud of our team and how far we have already come in the third meet. And to top it all off, it was our "flip for a cure" pink meet in support of breast cancer. It was awesome to be able to acknowledge breast cancer survivors and send out a powerful message to all.
On another note, a tragic event struck Penn State just today. We learned this morning that head football coach of 46 years, Joe Paterno, died of lung cancer. There was an emotional candlelight vigil in honor of him tonight. Thousands of people were there, all whose lives Joe has touched.JoePa is Penn State, and this University has evolved to be one of the greatest universities because of him. He was more than just a football coach; he was an amazing person, a legend, an icon. He did more for this university than any one man has ever done. He made history - 409 wins, he changed lives, and he will never be forgotten. Rolled up khaki pants, high white socks, glasses and all, we love you JoePa.
By Laura Finley, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast
cancer. Women's gymnastics associate head coach Rachelle Thompson knows this.
It is why she began the Flip for the Cure program last year and brought it back
Saturday night during Penn State's first home meet of the season.
"If every year we do this and make seven or eight people aware of breast
cancer then that's great," said Coach Thompson. "We've got a group of girls who
could develop breast cancer and by me just making this part of our community
service and putting our all into raising awareness, I'm helping my girls take
care of themselves in the future."
Thompson started Flip for the Cure in conjunction with the Lady Lion
Pink Zone to support breast cancer awareness. With some success, the event returned
for another year and fans gathered in Rec Hall wearing pink shirts while gymnasts
from each school sported their own pink leotards.
"It's a great cause having the pink zone and wearing our pink leos," said
junior Sharaya Musser. "It's all for the cause."
With fans watching in a sea of pink, Penn State opened the night on
vault, as Alabama, Michigan State, and Cornell took their respective spots to
compete in each of the other events. The Nittany Lions had a rough start,
struggling to pull in strong scores and earning 48.775 during the rotation.
Musser led the Nittany Lions with a score of 9.875, putting her in third place
overall on vault.
"We did not do what we should have done on vault," said Coach Thompson.
"When the meet started our team was kind of tight with it being the first home
meet and wanting to do great for our fans. We were a little tight. But after we
settled down and relaxed we did an awesome job."
Following vault, Penn State found its rhythm on uneven bars, scoring a
48.975, which allowed the team to hold on to its lead. Musser continued to put
in a strong showing, taking first overall on bars with a 9.9.
Carrying this momentum, Penn State moved on to beam and beat defending national
champion Alabama with a 49.250. This was their strongest showing of the night
with five gymnasts scoring a 9.8 or better. Musser and senior co-captain
Whitney Bencsko placed first with a 9.9.
Even with the strong scores on beam, however, Penn State could not hang
on to the lead as Alabama took over the top spot by one-tenth of a point. The
Nittany Lions kept their heads high going into their final rotation on floor,
concentrating on their routines as fans waited in anticipation of the final
Bencsko scored a career-high of 9.9 on her floor routine, but it was not enough
to solidify Penn State's score in the final rotation as it came down to a mere
.075 that separated the Nittany Lions (196.100) from Alabama (196.175), who
walked away with the title. Michigan State (192.875) placed third, while
Cornell (188.850) finished fourth.
"We have nothing to be disappointed with," said Bencsko. "We went out
there and we fought. You fall a little short sometimes, but it makes us work
that much harder. We went out there tonight and we had fun and gave the crowd a
Even with a second place finish, Penn State was still victorious as Musser
took home her third all-around title of the season, while Bencsko and junior Madison
Merriam tied for third.
Coach Thompson was confident Saturday night's outcome will make her team
stronger in the long run as she reiterated their persistence and will to win.
"We're going to get better," said Coach Thompson. "This will make the
team go 'Okay, we're good.' We're going to get back to practice and fix the
little things and make sure that we never do this again."
Musser agreed with her coach, saying that Penn State will continue to
fight and come back strong in next week's meet. She also acknowledged that her
team is not the only one fighting back as she reflected on her own experiences
over this past week after visiting Mount Nittany Medical Center and talking
with breast cancer survivors.
"I've never really talked to anybody about having to deal with breast
cancer," said Musser. "Just hearing some of their stories put things in
perspective. This is just gymnastics and there's more to life. We all just need
to take a step back and look at the bigger picture and the future."
Enjoy the newest in a series of entries from
the women's gymnastics team's upperclassmen with this entry from Whitney Bencsko & Daryl Konsevick!
Hello again, hope this blog finds you all doing well. As we returned on December 26th,
we continued our journey with two weeks of very productive workouts and
now season is official underway. During these two weeks we had a series
of intrasquads, a holiday party and enjoyed our New Years as a team together.
took all our hard work and put it into action this past weekend at West
Virginia. We entered the arena with enthusiasm and confidence, eager to
get our season started. As a whole we performed like we have been
training. We had a few mistakes but these errors did not get us down.
We fought throughout and did not have to count a fall. We could not be
more proud of the outcome and how our team handled the pressure. Our team total ended up being a 195.775, a record high for a season opener in Penn State Gymnastics history.
We returned to campus on Sunday knowing there was room for improvement. We got right back into things on Tuesday with a beam intrasquad and
raised the bar on the other events. With another very productive week
of practice, we are determined to build from where we left off last
week. This weekend we will be in New Hampshire to take on the Wildcats!
Enjoy the newest in a series of entries from
the women's gymnastics team's freshmen with this entry from Alex Witt!
Hello fans, friends, and family! I hope you all had a great
holiday season with your family and friends. I know it was really nice to
escape the cold weather and go to Florida to see my family. But, our break did
end a little sooner than most because we had to come back and train for season
which was quickly approaching. It was nice coming back though, we had a good
two weeks in State College with almost no students or anyone else here. And,
with having no classes, it made our main focus gymnastics which was needed with
our first meet only a few weeks away.
In our first meet at West Virginia, we had the highest team
score in Penn State history for an opening meet. I know this gave us all a
little bit of confidence and drive to get back into the gym and improve so that
score can keep building from meet to meet. It seemed to help too because in our
second meet at New Hampshire, we got a 196.125 which was a few tents higher
than our first meets score. We will still be making adjustments and fine-tuning
our skills in the gym in order to take on the rest of the season!
As for me though, I competed vault in both the West Virginia
and New Hampshire meets; making a slight improvement from one meet to the
other. In the New Hampshire, I had the opportunity to exhibition bars! It was
so much fun just to get out there and have that feeling of competing while
gaining a little bit of experience at the same time.