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March 19, 2012
By Laura Finley, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State women's gymnastics team closed out its regular season in high fashion on Saturday night, taking home its highest home meet score and honoring the seniors for their contributions over the years.
The women had much to be proud of as they put on their best performance at Rec Hall this season, taking first place against the University of Maryland with a score of 196.5. It was a score only fitting for senior night as Natalie Ettl, Daryl Konsevick, Whitney Bencsko and Alex Stine ended their careers at Rec Hall on the top.
"The seniors are great," said associate head coach Rachelle Thompson. "We're here where we are, number 12 in the country and number two in the Big Ten because of our seniors. A year and a half ago it was that class that we approached and we said `look this is what we want to do, this is where we want to go' and they said `we're on board, let's run'. They've made it. They haven't given up."
This never give up attitude has been encompassed by the team as a whole, as Penn State showed its dominance in the all-around category. Junior Sharaya Musser continues to go undefeated this season, placing first with a 39.650 while Bencsko scored a season-high 39.325 allowing her to take home second in her last meet at Rec Hall.
"It's sad, but we feel like it was a great night," said Benckso. "We put on a good performance and it was a lot of fun. I think we can say it's the first time [this season] that we've actually put four events together. I think that gives us the realization that we're on the right track and we're ready to go."
Opening on vault, Penn State scored a 49.175 led by Madison Merriam with her career-high score of 9.925. The score allowed the Nittany Lions to jump to the lead early as the University of Maryland came up with 48.775 on the uneven bars.
"The mindset when we walked in the door was, we're going to have fun tonight and we're going to do what we do best," said Bencsko. "We literally said let's go out there and have a blast and leave Rec Hall on a good note, and we did."
Penn State continued to feed off of the excitement felt throughout Rec Hall, as the team collected a season-high team score of 49.350 on the uneven bars. This allowed the team to hang on to an early lead, as Merriam led with a 9.900 followed by Stine, Musser and Bencsko who all scored a 9.875.
Although the team struggled on their third event of the night, the beam, Penn State still managed to maintain their lead with a score of 48.900. Musser led her team with a 9.875 followed by Bencsko in second with a 9.825.
The floor event closed out the night for the Nittany Lions who scraped by with a 49.075 led by Musser with her career-high of a 9.950. The scores allowed Penn State to clinch first in the meet, allowing the seniors to leave their last meet at Rec Hall with a win.
"It was a great night and a lot of fun," said Konsevick. "There was a lot of high energy and the emotions were there for sure. It didn't really feel different until the end at the last floor routine. During my floor routine, as I made my last pass, I said to myself `treasure this moment.' That was the most emotional part of the night for me. I was overwhelmed with happiness and just proud of everything."