No. 9 Women's Gymnastics Places Second in Home Opener
Jan. 21, 2012
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The ninth-ranked Penn State women's gymnastics team took second place in their home opener with a score of 196.100. The Nittany Lions narrowly missed first place, trailing fifth-ranked Alabama by only .075. Michigan State placed third with a 192.875, while Cornell finished fourth with a 188.850. More than 3,000 fans were on hand to cheer on the Nittany Lions.
"I hope that everyone that came out for the meet tonight had a blast regardless of the outcome," said head coach Jeff Thompson. "The team is doing everything they can to live out our theme this year of `Bring it Back!'. From the comments from longtime fans, this was one of the most exciting meets they can remember in a long time. Hopefully we are on the right track.
The Nittany Lions beat the defending national champion Crimson Tide on two events, including beam and floor. Penn State scored a season-high 49.250 on beam, a 49.100 on floor, a 48.975 on the uneven bars and a 48.775 on vault.
Junior Sharaya Musser (Colorado Springs, Colo.) earned her third all-around title of the season with a 39.425. Alabama's Ashley Sledge finished second with a 39.275, while senior Whitney Bencsko (Pompton Plains, N.J.) and junior Madison Merriam (Gaithersburg, Md.) each scored a 39.250 to tie for third. Benscko's score was a season-best. Freshman Krystal Welsh (Bowie, Md.) placed fifth with a career-high 39.025 and sophomore Kassidy Stauder(Palmerton, Pa.) placed sixth with a 38.925.
Penn State opened the meet on vault, while Alabama began on beam, Michigan State on bars and Cornell on floor. Musser was Penn State's top finisher on vault placing third with a 9.875. Merriam finished seventh with a 9.825, while Stauder tied for 10th with a 9.750. Welsh posted a 9.675 for 15th and Bencsko came in at 16th with a 9.650. Sledge took home the title on vault for the Crimson Tide with a 9.925. The Nittany Lions finished the first rotation with a slim lead as Alabama was in second after scoring a 48.725 on beam. Michigan State was in third with a 48.225 on bars and Cornell fourth with a 47.200 on floor.
The Lions maintained the lead after rotation two scoring a 48.975 on bars for a team score of a 97.750. Alabama remained in second with a 97.675 after competing on floor.
Musser led the Lions on bars with a 9.900 for the title. Bencsko had a season-high 9.800 for fourth, while Merriam posted a 9.775 to tie for seventh. Stauder, senior Alex Stine(Philipsburg, Pa.) and Welsh all tied for ninth with a 9.750.
The Nittany Lions strongest performance of the night came in rotation three on beam as five gymnasts posted scores of 9.800 or better. Despite the strong performance, Alabama moved into first place overall in the meet after scoring a 49.425 on vault in the rotation. The Crimson Tide had a team score of 147.100, while Penn State was in second with a 147.000.
Four Nittany Lions finished in the top five on beam, including Musser and Benscko sharing the title with scores of 9.900. Merriam, who tied her career high on the event, and senior Daryl Konsevick(Rutherford, N.J.) tied for fifth each soring a 9.825. Stauder placed seventh with a 9.800 and Welsh scored a 9.750 for ninth place.
The meet came down to the final rotation and the final competitors. Alabama squeezed out the win after posting a 49.075 on bars. The Nittany Lions' 48.950 on floor was not enough to take over the lead even with three Lions finishing in the top four on the event.
Bencsko took home the crown with a season-high 9.900 and Welsh took second with a personal-best 9.850. Merriam tied for fourth with a 9.825 and Konsevick posted a 9.775 for ninth. Musser rounded out Penn State's top performers with a 9.750.
Penn State heads back on the road for two weekends visiting Big Ten foes Iowa and Minnesota. The Lions take on the Gophers on Jan. 28 and the Hawkeyes on Feb. 3.