When the Nittany Lions begin their second home meet in a row at Rec Hall this Saturday, there will be several different lineup changes due to injuries suffered in the last meet.
Samantha Musto injured her knee on the floor exercise and will not be able to take part in the team’s third meet of the season.
Madison Merriam was also injured in the last meet, but will be able to compete on uneven bars and possibly vault depending on how she feels on the day of the meet when the team faces Big Ten opponent Iowa, No. 22 Pittsburgh and future Big Ten member Rutgers.
“I’ve been taking it easy, just so they know for sure it’s fine,” Musto said. “Next week I can start getting to do more stuff and see how my knee feels.”
To replace Merriam and Musto, two of Penn State’s best all-around competitors who have competed in all of Penn State’s meets so far this season, head coach Jeff Thompson has inserted several different gymnasts in the lineup.
Alex Witt and Kassidy Stauder will compete on the vault. Krystal Welsh will go on bars and balance beam, while Taylor Alotta will step in on floor exercise. Sidney Sanabria-Robles will continue as an all arounder, which she did last week due to Merriam’s injury. In total, there will be seven lineup changes.
“We’re confident in the girls that are going in,” Thompson said.
For some of the gymnasts this will be the first time they are in the starting lineup and none are more excited than Welsh, who suffered an injury last season and lost her starting spot.
“I’ve been fighting to get in the lineup ever since I got back,” Welsh said. “So I’ve been more focused on the little details and helping the team.”
Injuries are not the only problems facing Penn State, as floor exercise has consistently given the Lions hardships, including falls, and Musto’s injury.
However, the gymnasts have noticed an improvement in the floor routines shown at practice.
“It looks amazing, even just from Monday to Wednesday,” Welsh said. “We look so much better and calmer.”
Merriam and Musto echoed the same thoughts saying the team is more “confident” and “sticking their routines.”
After the last meet, Thompson and the gymnasts decided to change up the routines, going for easier tumbles to gain more confidence.
Along with the changes to routines, Thompson made the six gymnasts and alternate that will compete on floor, practice their routines in a row, without letting any continue if one gymnast didn’t stick her routine.
“When you get into the meets, sometimes you have more energy or you try harder,” Thompson said. “Going into the fourth meet, they should have all of that behind them.”