It’s been months since the women’s gymnastics team has heard the roars of a Penn State crowd and Sharaya Musser couldn’t be more excited.
“It’s so much fun, just to know that you have your home crowd behind you,” Musser said.
The women’s gymnastics team will compete against its first Big Ten opponent of the year at 7 p.m. Saturday in Rec Hall.
The quad-meet will include Penn State, Minnesota, Kent State and Towson and will be the first of three home meets in a row for the Nittany Lions.
Minnesota is currently ranked 11th in the nation, while Penn State has fallen out of the top 25 after starting the season No. 16.
“Rankings don’t mean too much right now, it’s all based on your average score,” coach Jeff Thompson said. “The more meets people get under their belts, the more they show their true colors.”
Last Saturday, the Gophers pulled an upset over then-No. 17 Washington by a score of 195.550-193.500. Penn State’s highest score this season is a 194.150, which came last week against Illinois-Chicago.
“Minnesota’s a really good team, they’ve gotten better every year,” senior Madison Merriam said.
Meanwhile, Towson and Kent State both have scored lower than the two Big Ten teams in their first meets with scores of 192.025 and 193.575, respectively. Even with the lower scores, Kent State is ranked second in the MAC and Towson first in the ECAC.
Thompson said when it comes to scores, judges can be stingy or generous and affect a team’s score and rankings.
To prepare for the meet, the team has taken a new approach during practice with floor exercises, where it had their lowest score at UIC last weekend with a 47.650 score.
“We changed the way we did floor exercise by doing them as a group and watching each other similar to a meet,” Merriam said.
One change for the home meet is the team will perform in Olympic routine order, different from the first two meets of the season. The order will be vault, uneven bar, balance beam and floor exercise, which the Lions are more comfortable with.
“[Olympic routine] will keep the energy rolling,” Merriam said.