The crowd at Rec Hall roared with a standing ovation once Sharaya Musser finished her floor routine — and the birthday girl was all smiles.
It was Penn State’s first win at home this season. The Nittany Lions posted a final score of 195.500 and made the day extra special for Musser.
“It was a nice little present to pull out a win,” Musser said.
The Colorado Springs, Col. native ended up placing first overall in the all-around on Saturday with a score of 39.525.
Penn State beat Iowa, Pittsburgh and Rutgers on Saturday for its first win in a quad meet this season.
For head coach Jeff Thompson, Saturday’s win was huge for the team’s confidence.
“This will give us a lot of momentum heading forward into the rest of the season,” Thompson said.
The team going into the meet was slightly set back with injuries to two of its best gymnasts, Madison Merriam and Samantha Musto. Merriam, a usual all-arounder, was only on for vault and uneven bars. Musto was held out of the lineup.
“The team trained hard the whole week,” Thompson said. “They knew we were shorthanded and had to step up big.”
Junior gymnast Sidney Sanabria-Robles stepped in for Musto in the all-around. She isn’t too unfamiliar with this role though, being her third time this season she had done it.
She finished with a 39.100 overall score.
Thompson has been impressed with Sanabria-Robles’ year so far.
“Sidney has really come into her own and developed her confidence,” Thompson said.
He said she is learning how to love gymnastics again. She was injured at LSU for two years before transferring to Penn State.
“Sometimes she could be a bit too hard on herself in practice and let a mistake get to her,” Thompson said.
The third-year coach credits Sanabria-Robles’ supportive teammates for helping her get some of her confidence back.
Another objective for the team was to overcome its past troubles on floor routines, where it had its lowest event scores the past three weeks.
Freshman gymnast Taylor Alotta stepped up on floor exercise to avenge her performance at Denver during the team’s first meet of the season where she finished with an 8.975
“She lost her focus at the end of her floor routine in Denver and fell,” Thompson said. “She had something to prove tonight and she did a great floor routine.”
Alotta ended with a 9.750 on floor. The team posted a 49.025, their season best.
“Floor was awesome,” Musser said. “We knew we had to do our job and close the meet out with a bang.”