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Jan. 4, 2013
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The 16th-ranked Penn State women's gymnastics team is set to kick off its 2013 season this Saturday at 8 p.m. ET as it takes on the No. 20 Denver Pioneers and the Lindenwood Lions on the University of Denver campus. The Nittany Lions will be making their first appearance at Denver since Jan. 16, 2010.
"We are extremely excited," said head coach Jeff Thompson. "The girls have worked extremely hard this fall. They've been working for 20 hours a week for 13-14 weeks. As a staff we are excited because this is our first recruiting class we have here. They've bought in to what we sold them a few years ago."
Thompson enters his sixth season and returns six competitors from last year's squad that finished sixth at the Big Ten Championships. Returning for the Nittany Lions is senior Sharaya Musser (Colorado Springs, Colo.), who earned Big Ten Gymnast of the Year and became the second Penn State gymnast in the last four years to earn the honor. Musser became the seventh overall Penn State student-athlete to win the Big Ten's top gymnast award. The All-American along with senior Madison Merriam (Gaithersburg, Md.) will be a team captain for this year's squad.
Merriam was an All-Big Ten second team selection in 2012 as she had a total of nine top five finishes in the all-around. She earned Academic All-Big Ten recognition for the second time in her career and competed in the all-around in 13 meets.
Lindsay Musgrove (League City, Texas) and Kassidy Stauder (Palmerton, Pa.)are returning juniors for the Nittany Lions. Stauder competed in 13 meets on bars and beam, seven on vault, six on floor and had six all-around appearances in 2012 and is expected to compete on bars and beam in every meet again this year. A 2012 Academic All-Big Ten honoree, Musgrove competed on vault in six meets and beam and floor in one met.
The sophomore class returns three in Lexi Carroll (Olney, Md.), Krystal Welsh (Bowie, Md.) and Alex Witt (Odessa, Fla.). Carroll returns after making nine appearances on vault and seven on floor during her rookie campaign. Welsh made 13 total appearances last season, with 12 coming in the all-around, and had four top five finishes. Witt enters her sophomore year with experience in five meets on the vault.
A young talented Nittany Lion team consists of seven newcomers, including a transfer from LSU in Sidney Sanabria-Robles (Caguas, Puerto Rico). Robles is coming off a knee injury where she received a medical hardship at LSU. Thompson welcomes six freshman including Taylor Alotta (New Tripoli, Pa.), Alix Faden (Roslyn, N.Y.), Hannah Kobman (Cincinnati, Ohio), Kelsey Kreider (Bethlehem, Pa.), Samantha Musto (Mays Landing, N.J.) and Savannah Soares (Providence, R.I.).
Penn State will be taking on Denver for the sixth time ever, as it holds a 3-2 record in the series with the Pioneers. The teams first met in 2001 and Penn State's last win vs. Denver came in 2007. These two teams last met on Jan. 16, 2010 at Denver, as the Pioneers scraped by the Nittany Lions by a count of 194.650-194.150. The Pioneers on the WAC Championship in 2012.
This will be a historical tri-meet, as Lindenwood will be making its first ever appearance in Division I gymnastics. "History is being made with Lindenwood participating in collegiate women's gymnastics for the first time ever," said Thompson. "This is going to be a special way for us to start our season."
For complete coverage of Penn State women's gymnastics, please visit http://www.GoPSUsports.com/sports/w-gym.
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