Last year, Penn State women’s gymnastics could count on Krystal Welsh to do the all-around in each meet. This year, Welsh has been held to just two events because of injuries, but helps the team in other ways.
“There’s always a couple of people that I say are the heartbeat of the team and Krystal is one of those people that know where the team is at all times,” associate head coach Rachelle Thompson said.
While her routines weren’t always the cleanest, the team could count on Welsh to stick a landing, Thompson added.
Welsh injured her ankle during last season, but decided in the summer to have surgery. When Welsh came back this season for conditioning, she injured her other ankle by rolling it on a routine.
“The other girls have known all along they would have to cover Krystal,” Thompson said. “Our floor and vault lineup may have done better in the beginning of the year had we had her experience.”
Because of these injuries, the Maryland native could only practice on balance beam and uneven bars.
However these injuries did not diminish Welsh’s role on the team.
“She motivates everyone,” said junior Sidney Sanabria-Robles, a teammate and close friend of Walsh’s. “You can go to her for anything and she’ll help you.”
Welsh did not compete in the first two meets of the season and was inserted in the lineup for the third meet after senior Madison Merriam injured her ankle on the uneven bars.
She competed on balance beam and scored a 9.725, keeping Penn State in the lead at the meet.
“I saw girls crying for her after that routine,” head coach Jeff Thompson said after Welsh’s performance.
Welsh won the Ann Carr Award at the meet for most inspirational gymnast.
Since that meet, the sophomore competed in the next two events on both balance beam and uneven bars.
“I had to fix everything to get into the lineup,” Welsh said. “I had to make everything cleaner.”
Meanwhile, Welsh has continued doing rehab every day to make it back into the all-around next year.
“It’s too far ahead in the future to tell, right now its day to day,” Rachelle Thompson said. “She’s doing bars and beam and we’ll worry about next year when next year comes.”