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Jan. 12, 2013
CHICAGO, Ill. - The 19th-ranked Penn State women's gymnastics team earned its highest team score through two meets this season in a 194.150-191.700 victory over the University of Illinois-Chicago Flames on Saturday night in the Windy City. Defending Big Ten Freshman of the Week Samantha Musto (Mays Landing, N.J.) was the all-around champion with a score of 39.025.
"We are really proud of everyone tonight," said head coach Jeff Thompson. "I think we showed improvement in all areas. We continued to excel on the uneven bars and vault. We surprisingly struggled on floor, but we came up strong by hitting five of six routines on beam to finish out the meet."
Senior Sharaya Musser (Colorado Springs, Colo.) posted the second-best all-around score, earning a mark of 38.600 despite a fall on the floor. Junior Sidney Sanabria-Robles (Caguas, Puerto Rico) competed in the all-around for the first time in her Nittany Lion career, putting up a score of 38.425. Sophomore Lexi Carroll (Olney, Md.) rounded out the Nittany Lion all-arounders with a 37.950. Musto's 39.025 beat her mark from last week.
"We moved Sammie down in some events tonight and it really seemed to help her with her confidence," said Thompson. "Sidney Sanabria-Robles was outstanding. She hit three of her four routines on the night and was close to hitting her routine on the floor. Her floor routine was beautiful and was one mental mistake away from hitting it."
The Nittany Lions started the meet on the uneven bars, posting a cumulative team total of 49.000 with four sticks, which bettered last week's total. Senior Madison Merriam (Gaithersburg, Md.) led the way in the event, posting a score of 9.900, a season best for her. Musser put up a 9.850 total, which was the second highest score of the meet behind Merriam. Musto tied for the third best score of the meet on the uneven bars, earning a mark of 9.775. Junior Kassidy Stauder (Palmerton, Pa.)matched her score from last week with a 9.750. Rounding out the uneven bars for the Nittany Lions was Robles, who earned a score of 9.725.
Next up was the vault for the Lions, where Musser stuck her routine for a 9.900. Penn State finished with a 48.900 on the vault. Musto finished second on the team on the vault with a 9.825 mark. Sanabria-Robles posted the fourth-best score of the meet in that event with a 9.775. Sophomore Alex Witt (Odessa, Fla.)made her second appearance of the season on the vault, earning a mark of 9.700. Carroll matched Witt's mark as well to round out Penn State's competitors on the vault.
Penn State moved on to the floor exercise, where the Lions posted a total of 47.650 with Musto leading the way with a 9.750. Merriam finished second for Penn State on the floor, earning a mark of 9.650. Stauder finished her floor routine with a score of 9.575, followed by Carroll at 9.475. Rounding out the Penn State scoring was Sanabria-Robles with a 9.200 mark. Musser suffered a rare fall, allowing her to finish with a score of 9.025.
"On the floor, we are doing some hard stuff right now," said Thompson. "It is high risk and high rewarding. We need to decide eventually if we want to continue with the difficult routines. It is beneficial for us if we want a shot at qualifying for NCAAs."
The Nittany Lions' final event of the night was the balance beam, where the squad posted a cumulative total of 48.600. Musser was Penn State's top finisher on the beam, earning a score of 9.825. Sanabria-Robles finished right behind Musser with a mark of 9.725. Stauder saw action in her third event of the night, finishing with a 9.700 on the beam. Musto and freshman Alix Faden (Roslyn, N.Y.) each finished with a 9.675 to round out the Nittany Lion scoring.
Penn State returns to Happy Valley for the first time in 2013 next Saturday at 7 p.m. The Nittany Lions will host Minnesota, Kent State and Towson in a quad meet at Rec Hall.
The Penn State women's gymnastics team is on Twitter. Follow @PennStateWGYM for the inside scoop. You can also find updates on the Nittany Lion gymnasts at GoPSUsports.com and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pennstatewomensgymnastics.