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EAST LANSING, Mich. - The No. 30 Penn State women's gymnastics team tallied a season-best score of 195.600 to top the Michigan State Spartans (195.550) Sunday afternoon inside the Jenison Field House.
"There are so many positives to take away from today,” head coach Sarah Brown said. “We started incredibly strong and I was happy to see my athletes continuing to fight through adversity. We will continue to work hard to put together four strong events, but I can't say enough about how proud I am of the improvements we are making each week!"
The Nittany Lions (2-3, 1-3 Big Ten) needed every point on Sunday afternoon because the meet would be decided on the final routine of the day.
With a 147.425-146.375 lead after three rotations, Penn State closed out the day on the balance beam, while Michigan State (3-4, 1-3 Big Ten) went to the floor exercise. After two falls to open beam, the Nittany Lions responded with a pair of 9.775s from Kristen Politz (Morganville, N.J.) and Mason Hosek (Pearland, Texas).
With Penn State and Michigan State going back-and-forth for the team title in the final rotation, senior Briannah Tsang (Vancouver, British Columbia) and junior Sabrina Garcia (Etters, Pa.) anchored the PSU beam lineup with a pair of 9.850s to post a team score of 48.175. For Michigan State, it closed out the meet with a 49.175 on floor.
In the balance beam standings, Garcia and Tsang tied for second, while Hosek and Politz tied for fourth.
"It's always tough to start off beam with a fall, but we've been in that position before and tonight we needed every tenth from the back half of the lineup, Brown added. “It was great to see Kristen, Mason, Briannah and Sabrina string together four solid routines and I continue to be impressed with their composure in tough situations."
The Nittany Lions opened the meet with a roar as they tied the No. 3 score in school history on the uneven bars with a 49.375.
The opening rotation saw freshman Lauren Bridgens (Darnestown, Md.) and Garcia tie for the uneven bars title as they both posted a 9.925. For Bridgens it was a career-best mark for her, while it was a season-best tally for Garcia. Along with the duo of Bridgens and Garcia, freshman Alissa Bonsall (Higganum, Conn.) hit a 9.875 to finish fourth and Tsang recorded a 9.850 to tie for fifth. With the first rotation in the books, Penn State held a 49.375-48.625 lead over Michigan State.
The Nittany Lions then moved to the vault where they tallied their second-highest score of the season on the event with a 48.950. On the vault, Tsang took the top spot with a season-best score of 9.850 followed by junior Gianna LaGuardia (Thornton, Colo.) finishing second with a 9.800. The Nittany Lion freshmen duo of Bonsall and Kourtney Chinnery (Suffolk, Va.) tied for third on the vault as they both tallied a 9.775. Penn State led Michigan State, 98.325-97.625, with two rotations complete.
On the floor exercise during the third rotation, Penn State posted a season-best score of 49.100. The Nittany Lions were led by Tsang, who took the top spot with a season-high 9.925. In addition to Tsang, Bridgens tallied a career-best 9.825 to finish fifth and Politz posted a season-best 9.800 to tie for sixth. With one rotation left, Penn State led Michigan State, 147.425-146.375.
In the all-around standings, Tsang won her fifth-straight all-around title with a season-high score of 39.475 – which ties her second-highest all-around score of her career –, and Garcia took second with a season-high 39.300.
The Nittany Lions finished the day with 11 season-best performances, which included a pair of career-best performances from Bridgens.
No. 30 Penn State heads to No. 29 Ohio State on Friday, Feb. 9, to close out its two-meet road trip. The meet is scheduled for a 6 p.m. start at St. John Arena.