For the second straight week, a disappointing second-place finish away from Rec Hall has the Nittany Lions ready to come home.
The No. 18 Penn State women's gymnastics team posted a score of 194.150, just .500 behind No. 6 Denver at Saturday's Denver Winterfest Classic. Air Force rounded out the tri-meet tallying a 185.850 in Denver.
Similar to last week's meet when the Lions tallied a 193.900, a few minor mistakes cost the team, leading to a lower score than it thinks it is capable of. Penn State coach Steve Shephard said though he expected better, he is confident his team will turn it around.
"I think it's still early, and I'm certainly not ready to panic at this point," Shephard said. "I think we have a huge upside potential throughout. We still went 194.150, and I think we're definitely capable of high-to-mid-196.000, 197.000. So that's what we're shooting for."
The Lions traveled to Denver with revenge on their minds after Denver beat Penn State out for a spot at nationals in 2007 and 2008, both times by less than a tenth of a point.
Senior Casey Rohrbaugh said though the team wanted to avenge the prior disappointments, the coaches stressed the fact the team needs to focus only on itself and it was not a factor in the team's finish on Saturday.
Vault was Penn State's best event of the competition, as all six of the team's competing gymnasts finished in the top eight. Reigning Big Ten Gymnast of the Week Brandi Personett, a senior, scored a 9.900 to finish first in the event and sophomore Whitney Bencsko placed second with a 9.800 to help lead to an overall team score of 48.950 for the event.
Shephard said he saw a lot of improvement with multiple individuals throughout all of the events, and though the team did not come out on top, there were some bright spots.
One of those positives was the performance of senior co-captain Allie Southard on the balance beam. She posted a 9.775, putting her in a tie for first place in the event.
However, the team's performance on the beam as a whole left Shephard wanting more. A score of 47.800 made it the team's worst event for the second consecutive week.
Shephard attributed the low score on the balance beam to nerves and a lack of confidence. Rohrbaugh said the reason for the low score in the meet in general is a lack of confidence, something that is normal in the beginning of the season.
"If you lose your confidence and get nervous and don't trust it, that's what happens," Rohrbaugh said.
Senior co-captain Rosie Smith said she is not worried about the confidence problem, especially with the team having three home meets in as many weeks.
"It might be nerves," Smith said. "It might be something like that. But the people making the mistakes, they can definitely fix them. I'm not really worried about the mistakes made during the meet because I know they will be fixed throughout the season."
After the loss, Penn State dropped to No. 22 in Monday's rankings and Denver fell to No. 14.