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By Anita Nham, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - During the school year, sophomore Mason Hosek, freshman Tess McCracken, and senior Emma Sibson are normally over 1,300 miles away from their hometowns in Texas. This Sunday, however, these three Nittany Lions will be returning back to their Texas home as the Penn State women's gymnastics team takes on Sacramento State, Texas Woman's University and Western Michigan in the team's second quad-meet of the season.
"It's going to be really cool [competing in Texas]." Sibson said. "There's going to be a lot of people there that Tess, Mason and I, have all grown up with, not just competing but watching their meets. A lot of little girls that go to the gyms that we went to will be there too, so that will be a lot of fun...I know a few girls from my gym are coming, a few family friends and my mom. I've been getting Facebook messages from a whole bunch of people back home who are excited to come to the meet."
For other Penn State gymnasts, it might be new for them to compete at the Kitty Magee Arena at Texas Woman's University, but for these three gymnasts, they're just taking a trip back to a familiar gym.
"I've competed in that arena year after year after year," Hosek said. "We had State there almost every year, so it's kind of going back home for me, which is nice, but at the same time, I'm really excited to do it as a college gymnast and for everybody who hasn't gone to Texas to come with us."
Sibson has also competed in the Kitty Magee Arena multiple times, so she is using that to her advantage.
"We know the equipment pretty well and the layout of the gym," Sibson said. "It's a little bit different where the bars are kind of on a diagonal a little bit. It's also an advantage of letting our team know how the gym is setup and how it runs."
The gym is also a familiar one for McCracken, and although she isn't competing, she is excited for the atmosphere.
"It will be the same but different because same arena, but different atmosphere and competition style," McCracken said. "I feel like it's going to be really great. I know there are a lot of alumni that are coming to it and that will be a lot of fun. I feel like we're really going to be able to get in there, win and really pull it together by making the small adjustments to do a really good job out there in Texas."
Even with the distance, there will be plenty of Penn State women's gymnastics fans watching the meet to support Hosek, McCracken, Sibson, and the rest of the Nittany Lions.
"I have about 20 people coming to the meet, so it will be a good amount of people and I think it will be really great because it's a pretty small arena, so hopefully, it will be pretty packed," Hosek said. "I'm really excited to go home for a little, have a great time and win."
Every meet, head coach Jeff Thompson knows how prepared and talented these gymnasts are, but by being back in Texas on Sunday, he's putting a little more faith into them.
"Tess won't be competing, but I think it will be exciting for Mason and Emma," coach Thompson said. "They both should be in three events each. Mason has competed at Texas Woman's University, she said like 45 times growing up, so she knows the arena and equipment setup well. I think it will be fun for them to be back in their home state and to have their teammates there. We look for them to do a great job leading us this weekend."