Women's Gymnastics Finishes Third at Big Ten Championships
March 21, 2009
Champaign, Ill. - The 13th-ranked Penn State women's gymnastics team recorded its second highest score of the season with a 196.525 Saturday at the Big Ten Championships, but it wasn't enough to overcome No. 15 Michigan, who claimed its 17th league championship title with a season-best 197.075 and No. 16 Illinois, who posted a 196.750 for second. Minnesota finished fourth (196.000), Ohio State placed fifth (195.900), Michigan State claimed sixth (195.650) and Iowa finished seventh (195.450).
Junior Brandi Personett (Katy, Texas) was named the Big Ten Gymnast of the Year, the first honor of her career and the fifth for a Nittany Lion gymnast since Penn State joined the Big Ten for the 1992 season. Head coach Steve Shephard earned his third Big Ten Coach of the Year accolade, sharing the recognition with Illinois' Bob Starkell. Ohio State's Taylor Jones was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year.
Personett defended her Big Ten floor title from a year ago, tying with Illinois' Sarah Schmidt and Michigan's Kylee Botterman for this season's title with a career-high-tying 9.950. She fell just shy of her third straight Big Ten all-around title, tying for second with a 39.475, her fourth-best score of the season. Freshman Whitney Bencsko (Pompton Plains, N.J.) placed 15th in the all-around competition with a 38.900. In all, 14 Big Ten gymnasts posted all-around scores of 39.050 or better. Minnesota's Carmelina Carabajal claimed the Big Ten crown with a 39.500.
As a team, Penn State posted a season-high 49.275 on vault, a 49.025 on bars, a 48.800 on beam and a season-best 49.425 on floor, aided by no score lower than a 9.850.
The Nittany Lions opened the meet on vault, with Bencsko and Personett each finishing tied for second with a 9.900. Sophomore Danielle Hover (Hamburg, N.Y.) posted a ninth-place and career-high 9.850 while junior Casey Rohrbaugh (Spring Grove, Pa.) tallied a season-high-tying 9.825 for 17th. Junior Alexandra Brockway (Macungie, Pa.) posted a 9.800 for 23rd as junior Allie Southard (Nanuet, N.Y.) recorded a 9.750. Illinois' Kelsey Joannides claimed the title with a 9.925.
On bars in the second rotation, freshman Natalie Ettl (North Prairie, Wis.) was the Lions' top finisher, posting a career-high-tying 9.850 to tie for sixth. Personett tied for 11th with a 9.825 while Bencsko and Brockway both put up a 9.800 to tie for 15th. Freshman Alex Stine (Philipsburg, Pa.) notched a 9.750 as Hover posted a 9.725 to round out the Lion competitors. Michigan's Trish Wilson took home the crown with a 9.950.
After a bye in the third rotation, Penn State moved to the beam in the fourth, with Brockway posting a 9.825 to tie for 10th. Both Southard and Personett scored a 9.800 to tie for 12th as Rohrbaugh notched a 9.775 for 17th. Sophomore Melissa Klein (Oceanside, N.Y.) posted a 9.600 as Bencsko recorded a 9.300. Minnesota's Carabajal took home the title with a 9.900.
Penn State then closed out the meet in the sixth rotation on floor before waiting in a bye in the seventh rotation. On floor, Personett tied with Michigan's Botterman and Illinois' Schmidt for top honors as all recorded a 9.950 for the title. Bencsko put up a 9.900 to tie for fifth as Rohrbaugh notched a career-high-tying 9.875 for 11th. Southard, sophomore Heather McElwee (Ponte Vedra, Fla.) and freshman Daryl Konsevick (Rutherford, N.J.) all recorded a 9.850, a career mark for all three gymnasts.
Penn State will now await the NCAA Regional draw on Monday, March 23, to learn its final ranking and where it will be sent for the NCAA Regional Championships, which will take place Sat., April 4, with times to be determined. The six programs hosting an NCAA Regional in 2009 are Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, North Carolina State, Ohio State and Washington. For the first time, the top 36 teams in the nation will earn spots in an NCAA Regional and with all 36 programs grouped in serpentine order.
For more information on the Penn State women's gymnastics team, please visit www.GoPSUsports.com.
More to come ...