Three Nittany Lion Gymnasts Named All-Big Ten
March 18, 2011
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - Three Penn State women's gymnasts have earned all-Big Ten honors, conference officials announced Friday at the Big Ten Championship banquet in Minneapolis, Minn. Sophomore Sharaya Musser (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and junior Natalie Ettl (Waukesha, Wis.) garnered First Team honors, while sophomore Madison Merriam (Gaithersburg, Md.) picked up Second Team laurels. Ettl was also Penn State's honoree for the Sportsmanship Award.
The Big Ten Gymnast of the Year, Freshman of the Year and Coach of the Year honorees will be announced at the conclusion of the Big Ten Championship, which begins on Saturday, March 19 at 3 p.m. ET at Minnesota's Sports Pavilion. The meet will be televised live on the Big Ten Network and live scoring will be available via a link at GoPSUsports.com.
"We're excited to have three student-athletes make All-Big Ten," said head coach Jeff Thompson. "It's amazing to have two considered first team All-Big Ten. It's a reward for all their hard work. It's also a reflection of Sharaya and Natalie's No. 1 rankings in the Big Ten. Madison's Second Team honor is also wonderful and it's great to see her rewarded for all her hard work this year."
This is Musser's second selection to the All-Big Ten First Team after also being named to the First Team in 2010 as a freshman. The 2010 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, Musser was a four-time Big Ten Gymnast of the Week this season. She has competed in every meet in the all-around claiming the title five times and finishing in the top two nine times. She owns a career-best score of 39.725, which she earned on March 4 in a tri-meet with N.C. State and Maryland. Musser has finished in the top five on vault in nine meets this season, claiming the crown five times. She has been equally as impressive on beam, never finishing lower than third and earned the title seven times. Musser has also finished in the top five on the uneven bars in nine out of 10 meets and has finished in the top three on floor in five meets. Musser owns career high scores of 9.925 or better on all four events, setting career highs on bars, beam and floor during the 2011 season. Musser leads the nation in the all-around with an Regional Qualifying Score (RQS) of 39.515, ranks second nationally and leads the league on beam (9.905), is tied for fourth nationally on vault (9.915), sits at 11th on floor (9.880) and is tied for 23rd on bars (9.865).
An uneven bars specialist, Ettl has anchored the Nittany Lions on bars in nine of 10 meets this season. She ranks third nationally and leads the Big Ten on the event with an RQS of 9.910. Ettl has finished in the top four on bars seven times in 2011 earning three titles. A 2010 second team All-Big Ten selection, Ettl scored a career-best 9.975 on Feb. 18 in a quad meet at Maryland. The score is the highest on the event among the Nittany Lions this season. As the recipient of the Sportsmanship Award, Ettl was honored for distinguishing herself among her teammates for her sportsmanship and ethical behavior. She is now a candidate for the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award, which will be announced at the end of the school year.
This is the first honor of Merriam's career. Merriam has competed in every meet this season on vault and bars, in eight meets on floor and six meets on beam. Competing in the all-around in six meets, Merriam finished in the top four each time and earned her first title in 2011 in the regular season finale at West Virginia on March 12. On floor, Merriam finished in the top four in seven of eight meets earning three titles. For the season, Merriam owns season-high scores of 9.800 or better on all four events, including a score of 9.925 on vault, bars and beam. The sophomore also boasts a career-high score of 39.475 in the all-around.