Recently in Women's Gymnastics Category

Musto Has Support From Team During Recovery

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By Sallie Sharer,, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The women's gymnastics team hopes to welcome back freshman Samantha Musto this weekend after a leg injury on floor exercise two weeks ago which left her leaving Rec Hall for x-rays at meets end.

8524362.jpegAfter misstepping in her floor routine in the quad meet against Minnesota, Kent State, and Towson, it was not until head coach Jeff Thompson saw the signs of pain as she continued her routine and called Musto off the floor, despite her attempt to push through her performance.

Her injury was essentially a bone bruising, and has been recovering well, she said.

Musto, who hails from Mays Landing, N.J., won Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors two weeks consecutively at the beginning of the season, and has been a fundamental part of the lineup for the Lions this season.

She won the all-around competition on Jan. 12 at Illinois-Chicago, posting a score of 39.025.

Doing gymnastics at that caliber again soon is Musto's main focus, she said.

"It'll be hard to make lineups again," Musto said. "Everyone is improving. It's not going to be easy."

For Musto, her week of practice was much lighter than usual.

Easing herself back into normalcy in the gym, the young gymnast says she is motivated to get back to where she was before her injury.

When the rest of the Lions had off of practice on Wednesday, Musto was in the gym to practice. To her surprise, some of her teammates showed up to support her.

"My team is behind me 100 percent," Musto said. "I came in by myself yesterday and they all came in to support me in practice."

Head coach Jeff Thompson said some of the girls even put on their grips and swung bars while Musto was practicing.

"It really touched her that they showed up for her to support her," Thompson said.

Senior and co-captain Sharaya Musser said the team's actions spoke volumes.

"Just the fact that the whole team came in on our day off to watch Sammie really shows where this team is at," Musser said. "We all really love and support each other, and we don't just say it, we live it through our actions."

Musto is targeting to make the uneven bar lineup, but the balance beam is also still a possibility.

"I feel good," Musto said. "I'm slowly getting back into everything, adding a little more each day."

Despite her goals to compete this weekend, Thompson is more concerned with her being healthy.

"The great thing about our sport is you can lose every time you compete, and still win the national championship on the last day," Thompson said. "So, whether we beat Ohio State this weekend or not, its more important to me as a coach to have great routines and performances, and coming out healthy and more prepared for the next weekend. So if Sammie isn't ready to go, we're not going to throw her out there just to try and win."

Musto is hopeful she will perform on beam and bars this weekend against Ohio State in a double duel Saturday night in Rec Hall.

Nittany Lions Pull Out the Win In Quad Meet

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By Sallie Sharer Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The women's gymnastics team came in first place with a score of 195.500 in their quad meet against Pittsburgh, Rutgers and the Iowa on Saturday night at Rec Hall.

8515277.jpegThe Lions narrowly beat out Iowa, who came in second with a score of 195.325.

Coming off of two injuries the week before, Penn State had a lot to prove and there was plenty of motivation for the Lions Saturday night.

Despite the two injuries that cost Penn State the win last weekend in its home opener, the team collaborated and was able to post the scores they have been training for.

"They trained hard all week, and they knew they were going to be without Maddy (Merriam) and Sam (Musto), and they knew had to step up and had to hit," head coach Jeff Thompson said.

In their first rotation, the Lions were on vault where they posted consistent and high scores for the team giving them an early lead. Uneven bars followed suit, and it was not until a shaky beam performance where the competition caught up.

Stepping in for senior and co-captain Madison Merriam on beam last weekend, sophomore Krystal Welsh gave another solid performance after training all week.

"She was our top freshman last year, and she is used to the pressure of competition week in and week out," Thompson said. "She is coming back from the injury and the stronger she gets the stronger she will do for us. She stayed on and that's the main thing."

Merriam was able to compete this week on vault and the uneven bars despite her foot injury last week.

When freshman Samantha Musto was injured during her floor routine last weekend in Rec Hall, the floor exercise event would be crucial to ensuring Penn State's win and changing this weeks outcome for the team.

"When it came to floor, we knew the meet was really close," Thompson said. "We had to match Iowa score for score, and having struggled on floor last week, the confidence this week is what carried them through. They did everything the best they could do, and it was fun to watch."

With five hits on floor, senior and co-captain Sharaya Musser was the last to compete in the event for the night.

It was also Musser's birthday.

With a hit, and a score of 9.850 on floor, Musser sealed the all-around title for the night with an overall score of 39.525.

In her last season as a Nittany Lion, Musser was pleased to have celebrated her birthday with a win for Penn State.

"This is the first time the competition has fallen on my birthday," Musser said, "and it was a nice present to pull out the win, and it was a lot of fun."

It was also a special night for junior Sidney Sanabria-Robles who competed in the all-around on Saturday night 39.100 earning her the prestigious Anne Carr Award.

Stepping up to fill in the holes in the lineup was an important theme for the team this week.

"We have been practicing that in the gym," Sanabria-Robles said. "We have a thing where we say you can either grab onto the rope or hold the rope and that's just keeping going, it doesn't matter if you fall, the team has your back and we're going to do our job."

The collaboration paid off for the Lions, and left the team still full of energy by meets end.

"This is going to give us a lot of momentum," coach Thompson said, "and even if we didn't win the meet, the fact that we hit all of our floor routines, they would have been just as excited win or lose."

Nittany Lions Place Third at Home Opener

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By Sallie Sharer, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The women's gymnastics team placed third in its home opener quad meet with Towson, Minnesota, and Kent State in Rec Hall on Saturday night.

8492187.jpegPenn State started the meet strong with three terrific rotations, but a pair of injuries hindered the Lions' efforts in the latter rotation en route to a third-place finish.

After the first rotation, Penn State took the lead with a score of 48.800 after it's performance on vault.  Senior Sharaya Musser posted the highest score on vault for the Lions, receiving a 9.850.

Penn State was on the uneven bars for the second rotation. The Lions continued their efforts posting a team score of 48.925, narrowly staying ahead of Kent State.

Co-captain and senior Madison Merriam currently holds the highest individual score for the Lions on uneven bars, but hit her foot on the low bar at the end of her routine, resulting in a fall Saturday night on the event, earning a score of 8.500.

In Penn State's third rotation and the absence of Merriam in the lineup, sophomore Krystal Welsh stepped in and performed on beam earning a score of 9.725.

Welsh proved to be invaluable on Saturday night after coming off of an injury.

"It was awesome," Musser said. "For her to step up and perform on beam like she did was amazing. She's been training real well, but she hasn't had experience competing, and it's always a different feeling than practice, but she handled it well."

Musser was the last to perform the event in their second rotation and secured the lead for Penn State with a 9.800 along with junior Kassidy Stauder and freshman Samantha Musto.

If the message Penn State was sending by the third rotation wasn't clear, it certainly was after it dominated in beam. Stauder and Musser both posted 9.900 in the event lending to Penn State posting its highest balance beam score so far this season.

The competition did not trail to far behind, however. Going into the fourth and final rotation, Penn State boasted a 146.975. Kent State followed with a 146.425. With a small margin for error, Penn State went into the floor event in hopes of finishing the meet strong.

But an injury for Penn State stumped their last event.

Consecutive two-time winner of Big Ten Freshman of the Week, Musto landed hard part-way through her floor routine, and though she tried to work through it and finish, the pain was just too overpowering.

"When she thought she was landing, she wasn't at the ground yet. She hyper extended her knee a little bit," head coach Jeff Thompson said. "The way she was hurting, I don't think she is going to be back in the all-around next week, let's put it that way."

Thompson added that "it's going to be a wait and see," situation.

The two injuries were a variable the Lions had not yet had to work through, and it proved too much to overcome Saturday night.

"We're not strong enough depth wise, and we weren't mentally strong enough to handle that happening," Thompson said. "That's all about learning, and all about growing as a team, and I guarantee you they'll be tougher next week."

Penn State debuted its new arena set up which made effective use of the entire floor in Rec Hall. With a packed house, fans could get a good look at every event.

"I liked it," Musser said. "Obviously for me as a senior and having competed for three years with it the other way, it was definitely a change. It was a good change, that way the setup was new for the entire team, everyone competed today with it being new for the first time."

Penn State will return to Rec Hall on Saturday, Jan. 26 at 7 p.m. to take on the Iowa, Rutgers, and Pittsburgh in a quad meet.

Lions Host Home Opener This Weekend

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By Sallie Sharer, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion women's gymnastics team will enter its third week of competition in the 2013 season with their home-opener against Minnesota, Kent State, and Towson on Saturday in Rec Hall at 7p.m.

8484498.jpegLast week the Lions defeated the University of Illinois-Chicago on the road, having posted their highest score of the season with a 194.150.

Freshman Samantha Musto's performance last week earned her all-around champion in Chicago with a score of 39.025, securing her second week in a row of being awarded Big Ten Freshman of the Week.

With their home opening meet on Saturday, the Lions are looking to continue their success despite the several changes they are facing this season.

The Lions will be debuting a new arena setup that head coach Jeff Thompson describes as an 'amphitheater' setup in Rec Hall that will give attendees a better view of each of the four events.

"Nobody is going to have any experience with the setup this weekend," Thompson said. "It's a brand new configuration. We're changing the floor setup in order to help us better host Big Ten Championships next year, the NCAA championships, and regionals in 2014."

Another change the team is facing this season, Thompson said, is the team's approach to competition.

"We're using a little bit of a different approach this season," Thompson said. "Almost everyone has something new, and something more difficult on floor. We trained some pretty difficult tumbling and upgraded the difficulty of our routines in order to be in the hunt at the end."

With amped up routines and skills, the Lions are looking for Penn State to gain some consistency and more confidence this weekend.

Co-captains, Sharaya Musser and Madison Merriam, are the only two seniors on the team, and with seven new Lions, including an LSU transfer, Sidney Sanabria-Robles, the seniors will lead the team in the fight against Minnesota, Kent State, and Towson on Saturday.

Between Musser and Merriam, the co-captains hold the highest scores in all four events, with the highest score in all-around going to Musser.

Musser posted the second-highest all-around score after Musto last Friday against Chicago with a score of 38.600. Sanabria-Robles competed in the all-around competition for the first time in her collegiate gymnastics career last Friday and posted a 38.425.

Last year the Lions defeated Minnesota 195.475-195.150 on the road. The Lions did not compete against Towson or Kent State last season.

After the team improved their score from their first meet in Denver two weeks ago from 193.725 to 194.150 last weekend in Chicago, the Lions are looking to improve their score again at home in Rec Hall.

Musser Looks Ahead to Nationals with Focus and Determination

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By Laura Finley, Student Staff Writer
Sharaya Musser hopes the third time is the charm. After competing at nationals as an individual for each of the past two seasons, the junior gymnast heads to Duluth, Ga., to compete this weekend in the NCAA National Championships for a third time in her career.

After qualifying for the championships during regional finals with a score of 39.450, Musser looks to continue finding success on the big stage.


"Being at nationals two times already as an individual, I will definitely know how to prepare myself and what to expect," said Musser. "Going into practice with that mentality is nice. But because I don't have a team there it's a lot different. I have a different mindset competing individually."

During the regular season, Musser performed exceptionally, winning 10 of the 12 all-around titles and being recognized as the 2012 Big Ten Gymnast of the Year. To say she will not be a threat would be a mistake. Musser has a strong focus in the gym every day and she is determined now more than ever, to place within the top three in Georgia.

"As a freshman I was just going with it," said Musser. "I didn't know what to expect. I think the difference between then and now is the confidence that I have in myself and really believing that I can accomplish the goal that I have set. This year, my goal is to make it in the top three in all-around and just to enjoy it."

Musser is already off to a good start, as she will be rotating with the No. 1 team in the country, the Florida Gators. Although her own team will not be there cheering her on, Musser and head coach Jeff Thompson are confident in the support she will receive from the Florida gymnasts.

"We feel like she has a great draw," said Coach Thompson. "She's with the number one team in the nation. The caliber of gymnastics that she'll follow is as good as or better than what she does. The fact that she's following a really good team means that if they have a really good day and she has an excellent day, then the chances are better for her making the finals on certain events."

Competing in four events, Musser has plenty to work for. It is the vault, however, that she and Coach Thompson are practicing with most. With an average score of 9.887 during the season, vault has been Musser's best and most consistent event. And it is vault that is one of Florida's best events as well.

With this in mind, the game plan going into nationals is simple: practice the little details. Musser and Coach Thompson have the process figured out, learning from past mistakes and conferring with one another on strategy.

"Last year we tried to add some difficulty, but it backfired a little bit," said Coach Thompson. "Although she was able to hit them 9 out of 10 times in the gym, under the pressure of competition the national championship stage probably wasn't the best time to try that. Knowing that, the only thing we're working to do is work on vault. She's an outstanding vaulter and there's a good chance she'll qualify for vault event titles."

Musser will begin her rotation at nationals this Friday starting at vault and ending with the floor event. If she places in the top four in any of the events, she will then go on to compete Sunday in the individual-event competition.

Coach Thompson is confident Penn State will be well represented. Working with Musser over the past two years, he knows she has all of the attributes necessary to succeed in the sport.

"The thing that sets her apart from other gymnasts is that I've never seen her have a bad day," said Coach Thompson. "Even when she's struggling in the gym, she still finds a way to laugh about it or to find the silver lining. We expect her to do extremely well."

Upperclassmen Blog, April 16, 2012 - Madison Merriam

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I can't believe it has already been a week since our season ended as a team. The emotions I felt Merriam_MadisonA0911_cp.jpg after coming up short once again at regionals were all too familiar. Even though it seemed like the grueling seven months of training never fully came together in the comminating part of the season, we learned a lot for next year.


I couldn't believe regionals was the last meet I would compete with the seniors. I have been so close with all four of them since the first day I came to Penn State. My relationships with them beginning my freshman year helped to form who I am as a collegiate gymnast. I'm grateful to have been on a team with such passionate young women for three years, creating amazing friendships with them that will go far beyond our gymnastics careers. I congratulate them all on successful gymnastics careers but I don't have to wish them luck in the real world yet since they all will continue with their Penn State educations at least through the summer.


Now that season is over I am definitely concentrating on my school work and enjoying the free time I have for the next two weeks. It's hard to believe that my senior year is basically here. I am incredibly excited to lead a brand new team next year with eight new girls coming in. It may be a challenge at first but I think it will be a refreshing change. I hope everyone has an amazing summer!



Upperclassmen Blog, April 16, 2012 - The Sophomores

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Hello family, friends, and fans!

We are so happy you have been following us all year, and we hope you enjoyed "Bringing stauder.jpg it Back" with us! We don't even know where to begin. It has been such a great journey, and we all learned so much. Although the team's season has come to an end, we will send Sharaya off to Nationals with all our love and support as she represents Penn State with pride, passion, and purpose.

We started out the season strong as a bonded group of sisters and continued to grow even closer as the season progressed. Each meet we came together as a team and continually made improvements. Even though it was cut short, we are proud of how we fought at each and every meet as we were reaching toward our goal. We are going to miss our senior class: Whitney, Daryl, Natalie, and Alex. They led us through the season and continually inspired each of us in their own way.

As a sophomore class, we took everything that we learned from last year and applied it to making this year even better. This year was much less stressful for all of us individually because we had already been through classes and practices and season once before! It made it a lot easier to have fun and it was definitely easier to enjoy the year. We all can't believe we are basically juniors now. We are half way done with our college careers! These past two years have flown by, and we are just trying to take everything in because we know the next two years will go by even faster.

For us, next year starts now and we couldn't be more excited! Good luck to Sharaya next weekend down in Duluth, Georgia!

 Enjoy your summer and look for us next year,

Kristin Blades, Kassidy Stauder, Lindsay Musgrove, and Stephanie Brock

Freshman Blog, April 12, 2012 - Alex Witt

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Hi family, friends, and fans! It is already April and I can't believe it; there are only three short Witt_Alexandra (H-11-MS)771p.jpgweeks left of the spring semester until it's summer time! I know I am excited for summer so I can finally be back in the nice Florida sunshine and also to see my family and friends! As most of you know our season came to an end this past weekend at regionals. As a whole I think we had an awesome season and we grew so much as a team this entire year. It was, however, disappointing to not make nationals and actually having to come to terms with us being finished with the season. But, I think we will all remember this feeling which will make us come back better than ever next year. But other than that, classes are going really well and I have already started training for next year. I will be going home for part of the summer, about a month and a half, and then I will be coming back to State College. I am going to be teaching at the summer camp and then I will start classes for the second summer session so I'll be back up here training as well. But, that is it for now; hope everyone is enjoying this lovely spring weather. We Are...

Alex Witt

Freshman Blog, April 3, 2012 - Lexi Carroll

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Hey everyone, carroll.jpeg

I hope you all had or are looking forward to a great spring break! The past couple weeks have been great inside the gym! As championship season is beginning we have been working extra hard to focus and put ourselves in meet-like situations for more preparation. Two weeks ago was the start of it all, Big Ten Championships. Unfortunately, we didn't do as well as we wanted.  As we walked out of that competition we were more motivated than ever! Our goal was to get back in the gym and work really hard to fix the things we needed to so we could put it all together for regionals! I think we are as prepared as we can be for this competition. This weekend we will be bussing it to North Carolina State to compete against NC State, Florida, Ohio State, Kent State, and UNC. The top two teams will then qualify to NCAA's.  We look at Big Ten's as just another thing that will help us prepare, and better us on our journey to the top! Last week we had the privilege of hearing an amazing man, Coach Mike Morse, speak to us. He has lived an incredible life of challenges you can't even imagine! He talked to us and explained how you can be great, but you are nothing without your team. You're stronger together then you are apart. It was an emotional yet truly inspiring speech. This week as our close knit team competes, we will fight until the very end to claim the spot we earned and deserve!


Lexi Carroll

Upperclassmen Blog, March 19, 2012 - Natalie Ettl

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Hello everyone! Ettl_NatalieA0411_Cp.jpg

Wow, this weekend was truly remarkable! I am first going to start off by talking about our last regular season meet. As a team we went into the competition knowing that we were going to have fun and put all four events together. And I am happy to say, we did just that and more! We started off on a great roll on vault and brought that same drive into bars and came out with our season high total. Beam and floor ended the competition on a high note, and we were able to score our home meet season high! However, the competition was just one aspect of the unforgettable weekend.

The alumni were another special part of the weekend. Between the men and women alumni, we had over 100 that came back to help celebrate. It was an amazing feeling to have so much support sitting right there in the stands. After the competition we went over to the Nittany Lion Inn for a get together where we got to mingle with all the alumni and our families. I talked with several alumni and just couldn't believe that I will soon be in their shoes. The most touching part for me at the reception was taking a picture with one of the Men's alumni that was from the class of '44. He told me that it was an honor to meet me and to cherish every last minute I have being a part of this amazing program. This brings me to my last topic from the weekend, SENIOR NIGHT!

I could not have asked for a more special night that will forever remain a memory for me. I can still remember the day that Daryl, Alex, Whitney, and I walked into Rec Hall for our first competition and I will certainly remember the day when we walked into Rec Hall for our last. The four of us started out as four completely different people but developed a friendship that turned into a sisterhood that will last a lifetime. We have laughed together and cried together, and started this journey together that we won't give up on until the end. Our teammates provided us with many laughs in the locker room prior to competition, something that I will never forget. Then following the competition, our teammates gave us a collage that they put together along with our class rings. After that, we got to enjoy some entertainment that was put together by Jeff. It was incredible watching the old videos of where we all started, to watching where we are now. I know that I never would have thought I would end up at Penn State, but I'm sure glad that I did.

This weekend we are heading to Big Ten's in Iowa. We have secured a second seed going into the competition behind Nebraska. We will start on vault and compete in the second session. A special congratulation is in order for Sharaya who received first-team All-Big Ten honors, along with Whitney and Maddie who received second-team All-Big Ten honors.  We are ready to go to Big Ten's and do what we do! We Are...Bringing it Back! We Are...Penn State!!!

Forever and Always a Nittany Lion,