By Laura Finley, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For many people the transition to college can be
a tough one. Krystal Welsh knows this.
It is why she came to Penn State fully prepared to take on academic courses and
gymnastics. Between studying for exams and working out every day during the
offseason, the freshman gymnast dedicated herself to finding the perfect
balance before the women's gymnastics season started.
Now, Welsh is a key contributor to the team as she competes in the all-around
title with four other gymnasts. As the only freshman all-around competitor,
Welsh has faced obstacles on her own, overcoming each with a strong sense of
"Krystal came here knowing that she needed to be ready to go and I think that
was really apparent," said senior Whitney Bencsko. "She got here and was
prepared and I think that made her transition easier. She did a really good job
of adjusting and did everything that she needed to do to be ready when it
mattered most at the start of the season."
Freshman Lexi Carroll knows first-hand the small struggles Welsh has overcome
during the first semester of college. With the two teammates rooming together at
Penn State, they have helped each other navigate through the start of college
"We both went through the same thing with transitioning to college," said
Carroll. "Krystal has definitely transitioned well especially being an
all-arounder. She's really determined and won't settle for anything. She always
goes above and beyond."
Welsh gives full credit to her parents and former club coach, Bob
Ouellette, in preparing her for the transition to the collegiate level. She
knows that without their support and guidance, it may not have been so easy.
"There's no way I could be competing at the level that I am if it wasn't for
[Coach Ouellette]," said Welsh. "Knowing that over the years he has believed in
me no matter what and that he has pushed me to improve has helped my confidence."
Welsh's gymnastics career started at the early age of eighteen months
when her mother signed her and her siblings up for lessons. Welsh recalls she
and her brother were the only ones who stuck to it, but one could say
gymnastics still runs in the family.
"My family usually tries to come to all of the meets and my parents
support me a lot," said Welsh. "They've been to every home meet and I love when
they're able to come, but it doesn't bother me if they can't. They've seen me
do it for how many years now? They know how I compete."
The women's gymnastics team knows how Welsh competes as well. With a
dedicated work ethic and no excuse attitude, the freshman has been able to make
constant progress in the gym, and it has not gone unnoticed.
"I think her biggest contribution is her consistency," said Bencsko. "She
might not be putting up those 9.9's yet, but that will come over the next few
years. Right now we know that she's a hit score and it's something that we can
count if there's a fault or anything. That's one of her biggest contributions
and that's huge."
This season, Welsh has competed as an all-around gymnast in each of the
eight meets Penn State has participated in. Thus far, her highest score was at
N.C. State, where she posted a 39.150 in all-around.
With these consistent performances each week, Welsh has proven herself
to be a vital part of the team.
"Krystal has been an overall great contribution to our team in all four
events this year," said assistant coach Jillian Monahan. "Not many freshmen
know what to do when they make the line-up in all four events. She's a hard
worker and when you give her a correction, she makes the change and does what
she has to do to be successful.
Looking to the future, Welsh hopes to continue doing well for her team.
With only three meets left until the Big Ten Championship, Welsh's next
obstacle lies in preparing for the postseason. Her team is fully confident in
her abilities though, as she has already overcome the transition of being a full
"She's there for us in four events at every meet," said Bencsko. "She's
reliable and we need that. Every team needs that."
I cannot believe that March is upon us. I remember looking at the blog schedule and thinking oh man I have a long time until my next blog entry, and soon enough it's March! This has been a very productive week for us girls. We took a different approach this week in practice after a slightly disappointing meet in Ohio. We came into the gym open minded, each with individual workout plans that were designed to help us with our confidence. By creating individual plans, this gave each of us the opportunity to do whatever we needed to do to boost our confidence on that event. It was not open gym, and it was not an opportunity to have a light week, and I believe everyone worked really hard and improved on the events in which they may have had doubts. I really love this team, and we really do have a lot of fun together. This week in practice showed how strong we are, and how determined we are to improve and perform the way we are capable of. I am very excited for the Friday meet at home verses Michigan and UNC. This will be another great opportunity to prove to each other, and our home crowd how hard this team works, and how ready we are. Though the season is moving fast and we only have two more meets after this weekend before Big Ten Championships, I know we will continue to strive to perform at our best knowing that we are a fighting team all the way to the end!
Hello friends, family, and fans! I hope everything is going well! I know things here are
going really well for us. We are at the half way point of our season and I feel like it has gone by so fast. I feel like it was just yesterday when I was moving all my stuff into the dorms and was eagerly waiting to start classes and official practices. So, I guess it really is true that time flies when you're having fun! Right now we are on the bus going to Ohio State for a double dual with the men's team. This is the first time that we have done a double dual together on the road. It will be an exciting meet because we are going against the Buckeyes who are ranked 11th and we are ranked 10th. It is always interesting to compete against a Big Ten team because we can compare ourselves to them so we know what we need to work on before the Big Ten competition, which is in four weeks! We have two more home meets and one away meet after this one and then we officially enter post season. Summer is also quickly approaching as we have about two more months left of the semester; can't believe freshman year is almost over. Until next time... We Are!
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.