FEATURE: Merriam Set to Master All-Around
Feb. 25, 2011
By Kaitlyn Knopp, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
"There are only three sophomores," Merriam explained. "[Of the sophomores] Sharaya (Musser) and I ended up being roommates."
Sharaya Musser and Merriam are also Penn State women's gymnastics team's top all-around competitors. As roommates in such an individualistic sport, it could be assumed rivalry would occur.
"It's having the support of your team that matters," Merriam said. "You know you want your teammates to do well."
Doing well is something Merriam is familiar with. As an all-around, Merriam posted a first-place finish at the quad meet against Pittsburgh, Bridgeport and West Virginia, as well as took third at the meet versus North Carolina.
At every meet though, the one consistent competitor for Merriam, leading over her 39.100 all-around average by 0.125 points, is her five-foot two-inch tall roommate, Musser. This doesn't affect the companionship between the two.
"Honestly, I spend a lot of time with Sharaya," Merriam said. "She's my roommate. I'm close with everyone on the team though."
Standing on the mats at practice or a meet, Merriam is spotted over the heads of her fellow gymnasts, her blonde hair and tall build setting her apart. Her fellow all-around competitor, Musser, is a stark comparison with her dark brunette hair coming just above Merriam's chin. When in the Nittany Lion's navy and white uniforms though, the similarities in their determination and skills appear in every performance.
Merriam said she is motivated by many factors, but team support is the most important. Originally from Gaithersburg, Maryland as a gymnast for Hill's Gymnastics, Merriam said doing well is "happening naturally."
"I haven't felt any pressure from the team," Merriam said. "It's hard getting through practice, but you know it will help you at the meet."
Merriam will be continuing her quest to be the top all-around at the next meet against Ohio State. The newly ranked No.10 Nittany Lion women's team - an eight spot jump - will be holding their own as well as cheering on the men's gymnasts towards victory.
Meaning Merriam will also once again not only be competing against the other team, but also edging for first against Musser. Though that is not what Merriam is worried about.
"[Everyone] should know every single one of us girls on the team have been through so much mentally and physically since we were two and three years-old, when we started gymnastics," Merriam said. "It means a lot to come out and support us."