2010 Women's Gymnastics Preview
Jan. 4, 2010
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
After making its first team appearance at the NCAA Championship since 2005, the 2010 Penn State women's gymnastics team is prepped and ready for a new season with plenty of experience to draw upon. This year's team, which returns every gymnast from last season's lineup, boasts five seniors, three juniors and four sophomores, and welcomes the addition of three newcomers. Headlining the returners are senior All-Americans Brandi Personett and Alexandra Brockway, as well as sophomore All-American Whitney Bencsko.
"We don't have a weak event," head coach Steve Shephard said. "On paper it looks to be a really great team. The question is whether we're going to be consistent and peak at the right time. We peaked last year at Nationals and had our best meet of the year. We were 24-for-24 at that meet and no other team did that. I'd like to see us do it again."
"It's going to be a battle to make it in the lineup," said Shephard. "They're all doing a great job in practice. The focus is on technique, amplitude, consistency in landing and experience. Those things will help determine this season's lineup."
According to Shephard, it will be a similar battle on the uneven bars for this year's squad, especially with newcomers Musser and Merriam in the mix and All-American Brockway leading the returners.
"Maddie (Madison) was the Junior Olympic National Champion on bars and she has the potential to do really well in the event," said Shephard.
Bars specialist sophomore Natalie Ettl will also look to make an impact on bars for the Nittany Lions.
"Natalie is doing a new release move called a `Ray' that only a few gymnasts in the country do. We've been working on it for a full year in order to increase her consistency."
Faces to look for in the bars lineup besides Brockway and Ettl may include, Personett, Bencsko, Hover, sophomore Alex Stine and sophomore Daryl Konsevick, who looks to make her first appearance on bars as a Nittany Lion.
"Alex Stine competed on bars last year and is doing a good job in practice so far this year," said Shephard. "Daryl did not compete on bars in 2009, but has a beautiful routine and is working on her consistency."
"Our top six in this event right now are Brandi, Whitney, Allie, Sharaya, Alex and Casey," said Shephard. "But we also have Daryl, junior Heather McElwee, Maddie, freshman walk-on Susan Martens, Melissa Klein and Danielle battling to make the lineup. Again, we have tons of depth."
"Along with Brandi, we have Sharaya, who does a double-arabian first pass, Whitney, who does a piked full-in, Casey, Heather and Daryl who are all strong returners on floor." Shephard said. "Melissa, Maddie and Dani are also all fighting for the sixth spot in the lineup this year."