The injury bug bit the Nittany Lions hard, resulting in a third place finish on Saturday in their first home meet of the season at Rec Hall.
Big Ten opponent Minnesota won the meet with a 195.525 score and Kent State finished in a close second with a 195.450. Towson would finish last with a scoring of 192.175.
Two out of Penn State’s three all-around competitors, Madison Merriam and Samantha Musto, had to leave because of a foot injury and a leg injury, respectively.
Merriam’s injury came on Penn State’s second event, the balance beam, when she began to dismount early and kicked the lower bar.
“Maddie we think will be fine, but it will be a wait and see,” head coach Jeff Thompson said.
Musto injured her knee on the floor exercise, continuing the Lions’ bad fortune on the event, where they’ve had their lowest scores of the season in their three meets.
“Sometimes when you get excited you have more adrenaline and I think she was a little higher on her first tumble pass than she normally is,” Thompson said.
Musto couldn’t finish her floor routine and ended with a 7.000 score. Other miscues included falls from Lexi Carroll and Sharaya Musser as well as a step out of bounds for Sidney Sanabria-Robles.
“My double Arabian is new, so I’ve been training that and I’m still trying to get used to it,” Musser said.
In a double Arabian, the gymnast does a half turn and then performs two front flips in the air before landing.
The Lions ended up with a 47.325 on the event, which was the lowest for any team on a single event.
Stepping up for Merriam on balance beam was sophomore Krystal Welsh, who had what Thompson, called the “performance of the night.”
Welsh earned a 9.725, keeping Penn State’s score at a 49.250 for the event.
“Krystal was the alternate coming back from ankle surgery,” Thompson said. “I saw a couple kids crying they were so excited for her.”
Senior gymnast Musser also noticed Welsh’s strong performance.
“For her to step up and compete on beam, what she did was amazing,” the Colorado native said.
Musser also had her season-best performance on beam with a score of 9.900.
“I still feel I can improve, I had a little boggle on my series,” she said.
Thompson believes that the team will be able to overcome the adversity they faced this meet.
“We’re not strong enough depth wise and we weren’t mentally tough enough for that,” the third-year coach said. “I guarantee they’ll be stronger next week because of it.”
Penn State will face Rutgers, Pittsburgh and Iowa on this Saturday at Rec Hall.
“Everyone needs to step up in practice this week,” Musser said. “We just need to put this competition behind us.”