Women's Gymnastics Edged Out At Big Ten Championships To Finish Second
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Freshman Kristal Uzelac (Johnstown, Pa.) scored a career-high 39.425 to tie for second in the all-around while also claiming the uneven bars title with a career-high-tying 9.925 and finishing first on the beam with a career-high 9.950. Uzelac's beam score, which she produced as Penn State's last competitor on its last event, marks the highest beam score by a Nittany Lion since Katie Rowland scored a 10.00 during the 2003 season.
Senior Kate Stopper (Reinholds, Pa.) claimed Penn State's third individual event title of the night, tying for first on the floor with a 9.850. The three individual event crowns marks the most in one year for Penn State at the Big Ten Championships since the Nittany Lions joined the conference for the 1992 season.
As a team, Penn State posted scores of 48.900 on the vault, 49.125 on the bars, 49.175 on the beam and 48.925 on the floor.
Penn State was well-represented in the all-around, placing all three of its gymnasts among the top six. Uzelac tied for second with a career-high 39.425, junior Lisa Clark (Philadelphia, Pa.) fell just shy of her career-high with a 39.300 to finish fourth and junior Meredith Hoover (Dublin, Ohio) finish sixth with a 39.025. Michigan's Elise Ray finished first in the all-around with a 39.500.
The Nittany Lions opened up the evening on the floor after a first-rotation bye. Stopper claimed Penn State's first-ever floor exercise Big Ten title with a 9.850, sharing the crown with Michigan's Becca Clauson and Minnesota's Carolyn Yernberg. Clark finished fourth with a 9.825 and sophomore Corissa Pirkl (West Islip, N.Y.) scored a season-high 9.800 for eighth. Uzelac scored a 9.750 for 14th, Hoover posted a 9.700 for 23rd and junior Jennifer Orlando (Herndon, Va.) posted a 9.625 for 36th.
Following a third-round bye, Penn State moved to the vault, where Clark was the Lions' top finisher, claiming eighth with a 9.825. Uzelac scored a 9.800 for 12th, Hoover recorded a 9.775 for 16th and Orlando and sophomore Amie Olaes (Inverness, Ill.) both recorded a 9.750 to tie for 19th. Stopper rounded out the Penn State competitors, scoring a 9.600 for 35th. Michigan's Katie Lieberman and Jenny Deiley and Minnesota's Ashley Mutchler all scored a 9.900 to claim the title.
On bars in the fifth rotation, Uzelac tied her career-high with a 9.925 for first. It is her third 9.925 score of the year and her seventh bars title of the season, including her sixth straight. Over the last six meets, Uzelac is averaging a 9.904 on the bars. Junior Michelle Ilg (Colonia, N.J.) recorded a season-high 9.850 to finish fourth and Clark and senior Cecile Allen (State College, Pa.) each posted a 9.800 to tie for 11th. Hoover recorded a 9.750 for 16th and Pirkl tallied a 9.725 for 21st.
Following a bye in the sixth rotation, Penn State ended the night on beam with impressive performances from all gymnasts. Uzelac, performing as the Lions' last competitor, stepped up big, scoring a career-high and first-place 9.950. Clark tied her career-high with a fifth-place 9.850 and Stopper and Hoover both scored a 9.800 for eighth. Sophomore Gena Shingle (Langhorne, Pa.) posted a 10th-place 9.775 while Pirkl recorded a 9.750 for 18th place.
The Nittany Lions now await the announcement of seedings for the NCAA Regional Championships, slated for April 9 at campus sites. The NCAA Championships, hosted by Auburn, are April 21-23.
For more information on the Penn State women's gymnastics team, please visit www.GoPSUsports.com.