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March 18, 2013
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Following a phenomenal regular season, Penn State senior co-captains Sharaya Musser (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Madison Merriam (Gaithersburg, Md.) have been named First Team All-Big Ten selections. Musser takes home first team honors for the fourth time in her career, while this is Merriam's first time ever on the first team.
"We are thrilled for both of our senior co-captains earning First Team All-Big Ten - and I mean `earning it'. For the first time in Big Ten women's gymnastics history, this wasn't a popularity contest with everyone getting a ribbon," said head coach Jeff Thompson. "It was based on the numbers that they put up all season long and the gymnasts who made the first and second teams all earned the honor through their performances. Maddie made it on her vault ranking alone, finishing fourth in the conference and earning seven points toward her total. Sharaya's No. 1 ranking on balance beam guaranteed her 10 points - plus, the six points for bars, five points for floor and seven points in the all-around cemented her place on the first team with the third highest point total at 28 points."
This is the first year that the All- Big Ten teams are based on season-long performance numbers, not coach votes. The first and second all-conference teams were based on the Regional Qualifying Score (RQS) posted on the Gyminfo website. The top 10 student-athletes were given points based on their standings in the RQS (10 points for the number one ranked and one point for the number 10th ranked). The 12 student-athletes with the highest point totals were named to the first team. Penn State is the No. 4 overall seed in this weekend's Big Ten Championships and will compete in the night session at 6 p.m. ET on Saturday.
Musser, who earned first team honors every year of her fantastic Nittany Lion career, enters the Big Ten Championships ranked first overall on beam, tied for fifth on bars, 6th on floor, 13th on vault and fourth in the all-around. Musser ranks 10th nationally in the all-around and seventh on beam. The senior is coming off one of her best meets of the season, where she put up a 9.9 on vault, a 9.95 on beam, a 9.925 on floor and a 39.650 in the all-around, all season-highs. Musser's 9.95 beam performance included a perfect 10 from one of the judges. Additionally, the Colorado native tallied a 9.925 on beam on Feb. 23 for her season-high.
Merriam currently ranks fourth on the vault in the Big Ten and has posted 9.95 scores twice on Feb. 16 and March 16. The Maryland native has also been a staple on the uneven bars for the Nittany Lions this season, posting a 9.95 on Feb. 23 and a 9.9 on Jan. 12. Merriam earned scores of 9.925 on the floor the last two weeks including Saturday night's senior night win over Kentucky, where the Nittany Lions posted the second highest team score in school history. Merriam is also a two-time Big Ten Event Specialist of the Week this season.
The Nittany Lions now turn to the Big Ten Championships, hosted by Michigan State next Saturday. Penn State is a top four seed and will compete in the night session at 6 p.m.
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