Success with Honor: Brandi Personett
June 2, 2008
By Greg Kincaid, Penn State Athletic Communications Student Assistant
Earning two Big Ten individual all-around titles in a gymnast's first two years of action is an unforgettable experience. Earning two trips to the NCAA Championships in a gymnast's first two years is a dream come true. Just ask current Penn State All-American standout Brandi Personett.
In 2008, the Texas native took home the Big Ten individual all-around crown for the second time in as many years. She then took her game to the NCAA Championships in Athens, Ga., where she garnered All-American honors when she tied for fifth place on the balance beam. She scored a 9.8750, her second-highest score on the beam on the year. Personett found it quite ironic to take All-American on the beam.
"My personal goal was to be an All-American on floor and vault," she said. "It's funny I ended up being one on beam instead."
Personett made a name for herself at her Penn State right away. She came in as a freshman expecting big things out of herself. "I just wanted to go out as a freshman and compete the best I could, and do the things I was recruited for," she said.
In the end, Personett claimed the Big Ten Freshman of the Year award and the Big Ten individual all-around championship in her rookie season. She would go on to qualify for the NCAA Championships. Taking all of this in as a freshman was overwhelming for Personett.
"I was very shocked as I think a lot of people were," she said. "When you are a freshman, no one really expects a lot from you, so winning such awards was really just icing on the cake. Winning vault and the all-around at Big Ten's was a really great confidence booster and a fun experience."
Personett's confidence did indeed carry over into this season, where she made even a bigger name for herself. This year she earned her second consecutive Big Ten all-around title and a fifth place finish in the beam and a 16th place showing in the individual all-around at the NCAA Championships.
"I feel very honored to have been named Big Ten all-around champion and to have earned a spot at NCAAs for the second year in a row," said Personett. "I know there are a lot of very talented gymnasts that compete in the NCAA and to perform well enough to compete against those girls at nationals and place among them at Big Ten's is very exciting for me."
As many athletes know, repeating success from season to season is not an easy accomplishment. Personett says that her early success has come from her consistency in the gym. From there, she believes that her consistency has come from her preparation. "I think being consistent in college has a lot to do with your preparation," she said. "My coaches do a really good job of preparing us for any situation a meet could throw you and we do lots of repetition so in a meet it is not a question of whether you will hit, but a certainty."
Personett began her bright gymnastics career at the age of eight. Her parents, Ken and Viki, put her in gymnastics by chance because she could not dance the way her brother and sister could. As a child, her family noticed that she would like to roll around a lot.
In 2006-07, Personett was a member of the National Junior Olympics squad. She felt like it was a great experience for her, and most importantly, it was fun. "I had a lot of fun when I was in the Junior Olympics program," she said. "I had previously been an elite which was a lot of intense, not fun training. Getting to go back and compete at the Junior Olympic level gave me a chance to relax and really remember why I love the sport so much."
The beginning of Personett's bright career at Penn State has been an outstanding experience so far. When she came to Penn State on a recruiting trip, she had already made up her mind that this was the place she was going to go. Her decision was based on both the athletics and the academics. Most of all, she knew being a Nittany Lion would bring her the most success.
"It makes me feel good to know that all the hard work we do in the gym is paying off," she said. "I love the girls, the coaches, the atmosphere and tradition Penn State brings."