A different meet, a different problem for the Penn State women’s gymnastics team.
In the first few meets of the season, the team under performed on the floor exercise, scoring its lowest totals on the event. Since the fourth meet, however, the Lions stuck their floor routines and received high scores.
In the last meet against Michigan, Penn State had two gymnasts fall off the balance beam, resulting in its second lowest score on the event all season.
What was more surprising was Sharaya Musser falling off the beam, an event she usually dominates in, having scored higher than a 9.900 on the event three times this season.
“I can’t remember seeing Sharaya fall of the beam in my three years coaching here,” coach Jeff Thompson said.
Musser said during her routine she had a bobble and lost focus, causing her to lose balance.
The meet was also the first time for Penn State where the team was the only one competing at a time. Usually in gymnastics meets, there will be multiple teams competing on different events at the same time.
Thompson believes the added pressure may have distracted some of the younger gymnasts.
Kassidy Stauder was the first to start on beam.
“She knew 3,000 people were all looking at her,” Thompson said.
Thompson called Stauder a “rock” because the team relies on her to get the team started on three of four events, while sticking her routines.
However, Stauder also had a bobble on her routine and Thompson noticed his team was concerned.
“I heard some of them say ‘if Kassidy messed up maybe I will too,’ ” Thompson said.
Even with the low beam scores, Penn State still put up its third highest score of the season.
When the Lions were having trouble with the floor exercise, Thompson decided to make the six gymnasts that compete all stick their routines in a row in practice. He has taken the same approach for beam making all six land their routines.
An added focus on practicing beam has already made an impact on some gymnasts.
“We’re focusing on the mental training on the beam,” Musser said. “For me just getting back to what I normally do and staying tight in my mind.”
Thompson was also feeling confident after practice on Tuesday.
“The fact that we made six in a row in the beginning of practice and seven at the end, makes me think it was just a fluke,” Thompson said.