March 25, 2013 at 5:29 PM
The No. 14 Penn State women’s gymnastics team found out on Monday that it will compete at NCAA Regionals at Norman, Okla., on April 6. The meet will take place at Oklahoma’s campus and will start at 4 p.m.
Other teams that will compete in Oklahoma include the No. 2-ranked Sooners, No. 11 Stanford, Iowa and Southern Utah.
The top two teams at each regional meet will receive a berth into the NCAA Championships in Los Angeles on April 19-21. The top two all-arounders from teams that did not make the championships will also receive an entry into the championships.
The four event winners at each regional site will also advance to the championships if they are not part of a qualifying team or an all-around competitor.
Of the five other teams at the Oklahoma Regional, Penn State has only competed against Iowa this season, beating the Hawkeyes 195.500-195.325.
The Nittany Lions are coming off a sixth-place finish at the Big Ten Championships on Saturday, where the team scored a 195.825. Big Ten first team gymnast Sharaya Musser earned a 39.425 all-around score at the meet.
March 20, 2013 at 5:54 PM
The women's gymnastics team will compete in the Big Ten Championships in Michigan on Saturday and will be holding a sendoff tomorrow before the team leaves.
"We've never done this before for women's gymnastics," coach Jeff Thompson said. "We're hoping to get the girls fired up before heading to East Lansing."
The send off will be at 12:45 p.m. at the bus stop in front of the White Building and parking will be available at the HUB parking deck.
Penn State will compete at 6 p.m. at the championships Saturday and the meet will also be televised on the Big Ten Network.
February 11, 2013 at 3:35 PM
Penn State scored its third highest meet total of the season, yet lost to No.9 Nebraska 197.175-195.150 in Lincoln, Nebraska on Sunday.
The Nittany Lions performed well on the floor exercise, an area they had trouble in earlier in the season, posting a season high of 49.150. Sharaya Musser lead the Lions with a 9.900 score, while Lindsay Musgrove, Madison Merriam and Lexi Carroll all scored higher than a 9.800.
While the team did well on floor, the gymnasts experienced problems on the balance beam. As a team, Penn State accumulated a low 47.800 on the exercise.
Sidney Sanabria-Robles had the lowest score in the event for Penn State with a 9.100. Musser, who has scored the Lions’ top three scores on beam throughout the season, had a rare low-score routine, with a 9.225. Three other gymnasts tied for a 9.725 high for Penn State.
The Lions scored their highest total on vault with a 49.225. Each gymnast scored higher than a 9.800 and Merriam posted a 9.900.
Meanwhile, Nebraska scored a team total higher than 49.175 on each event in the meet, making it difficult for Penn State to reach the total the Cornhuskers scored throughout the meet.
Musser was the only Penn State gymnast to compete in the all-around earning a score of 38.825.
Two-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week Samantha Musto also competed in three events for Penn State in the meet. Musto competed in two events in the meet against Ohio State last week.
The Lions' next meet will be against Michigan in Ann Arbor on Feb. 16.
January 10, 2013 at 8:11 PM
The women's gymnastics team will look for its first win of the season when it travels to the University of Illinois at Chicago on Saturday for its second meet of the season.
The team finished second in Denver last weekend, but the gymnasts have felt a change in perspective this week at practice.
“We’re working on our confidence,” Savannah Soares said. “Our strength has gotten better, both physically and mentally.”
One thing the team has focused on this week has been balance beams, where Penn State lost its lead to Denver in the last meet.
“Balance beam is just as good this week as it was last week," head coach Jeff Thompson said. “We had two kids fall off with the beam being four inches wide; that happens.”
Among the changes this week, Thompson and senior Madison Merriam said they think “there will be lineup changes” at UIC.
“Either with the order or swapping gymnasts themselves,” Thompson said. “Some gymnasts like to go right away after warming up, others like to wait longer and catch their breath.
The meet at UCI will also be the last before Penn State sees its first Big Ten opponent when it takes on Iowa on Jan. 19.
March 21, 2012 at 9:50 PM
Building on an already impressive year, members of the Penn State women’s
gymnastics team pulled in some hardware before even leaving for the Big Ten
Tied for second in the conference, the nationally-ranked No. 12 squad totaled
three gymnasts worthy of All-Big Ten honors this season.
Junior standout Sharaya Musser was the only Lions selected on the All-Big
Ten First Team, the third time she has garnered this recognition in her illustrious
In order to make the first team, the gymnast had to be ranked in the top
three of at least one event.
The six-time Big Ten Gymnast of the Week didn’t have any problem completing that criteria. At the end of the regular season, Musser ranked first in conference in the all-around and balance beam, tied for first on floor routine, second on vault, and third on uneven bars.
Two other Nittany Lions, junior Madison Merriam and senior Whitney
Benckso, earned All-Big Ten honors for earning top six overall scores in the
conference in at least one event.
For Merriam, this is the second time receiving this recognition, earning
All-Big Ten second team in 2011. The junior has been consistent all year long,
especially on floor (4th in conference) and vault (7th in conference).
Senior leader Whitney Bencsko captured her second All-Big Ten second
team honor after earning her first as a freshman. This season Bencsko
has competed in the all-around in all of her meets, finishing in the top five nine
February 8, 2012 at 4:27 PM
Junior Sharaya Musser has earned the honor of Big Ten Gymnast of Week, conference officials announced Monday.
The Colorado Springs native is no stranger to this award, as it is her third time receiving it this season and the eighth in her career.
Musser has been a spark plug for the Lions this season, earning the all-around title in each of the first five meets. Musser led the No. 10 Nittany Lions to a 195.800-195.150 win at Big Ten opponent Iowa on Friday, Feb. 3, placing first in three of the four events.
May 5, 2011 at 8:33 PM
It was a good sign for the Penn State women's gymnastics team.
Anyone walking into the White Building gym on Thursday afternoon during finals week would have seen three gymnasts — Whitney Bencsko, Alex Stine and Natalie Ettl, three of the four members of the team's newest senior class.
Benckso, named captain for the second straight year at the team's award banquet last week, spoke of the pride she felt at keeping her role as captain.
“It’s awesome to know that the girls still look at me as a leader," Bencsko said. "It’s an honor that I guess I proved myself and just did a good job and they saw that. I think it’s awesome."
Benckso also made sure to emphasize she and her fellow captain Ettl won't be the only leaders of the team.
They'll be assisted by their strong class, which also includes Daryl Konsevick, and the closeness the four seniors have developed.
"We always talk about the bond that we’ve formed amongst the four of us and we recognize it, Benckso said. "We know that as a group of four it’s not going to be just me and Nat [Ettl] leading this team, it’s going to be the four of us."
With the senior class providing united leadership, and a talented new freshman class, the team has big goals next year.
And with three of the team's seniors already in the gym preparing for next year, and every member of the team except two gymnasts staying in State College to work out over the summer, those goals seem well within the realm of possibility.
“We’re coming in every day and just trying to do the best we can to make our senior year the best that it can possibly be," Ettl, the team's newest captain said. "We want to come out of here with a possible Big Ten championship and making it to nationals and super-six, so we’re going to do everything we can as a senior class to lead the other classes below us to what this team can truly accomplish."
Ettl and Stine will be working to recover from leg surgeries over the summer, but they still intend to come back stronger than ever.
“I’m really excited for next year," Stine said. "With Nat [Ettl] and I with these surgeries, hopefully we’ll be able to come back better than ever. Whitney, she’s going to train in here hard every day, I know she’s pumped about next year. We’re just all ready to have a great senior year and we’re going to do everything we possibly can this year to make sure that happens.”
Bencsko was the only gymnast in the gym on Thursday actually able to work on her routines, and she was doing exactly that. Bencsko is notorious on the team for working hard, and said she has success next year in mind right now.
"We’re looking forward to a really strong year," Bencsko said. "I think the coaches definitely look up to us and are going to ask for our opinions and give all four of us a say in making our senior year the best year that we’ve had yet. So we’re all excited and we look forward to what’s to come next year."
All of the team's seniors are looking to excel next year, and lead the team to NCAA nationals.
And with only one year left in their collegiate careers, they're happy to enjoy every moment as it comes.
"We’re ready to have some fun and just enjoy our last year here at Penn State," Ettl said.
April 30, 2011 at 1:37 PM
Rising seniors Natalie Ettl and Whitney Bencsko were named captains of the Penn State women's gymnastics team for the 2012 season Friday night at the team's award banquet.
Bencsko remains a captain, while Ettl will replace graduating senior Danielle Hover.
Ettl spoke of the pride she felt at being named captain by a team vote.
“It’s a complete honor. It’s hard for me to put it into words," Ettl said. "Just the fact that the girls look up to me means a lot to me. I’ve come from such a difficult background with all my knee injuries and to persevere and then to be able to come to Penn State and be named a captain and to have girls look up to me and lead the team is truly, truly, an honor.”
Throughout the past season, Ettl was constantly taking an active role in leadership in the gym, always talking one of the gymnasts through a bad day or lending her support for any gymnast performing a routine.
Hover said she felt confident Ettl would perform admirably in replacing her as captain.
"There’s no other better person than that could lead this team as well as Nat," Hover said. “Stepping into her role as captain, nobody leads by example like her, nobody speaks her mind as well as she does, nobody’s as outgoing and generous and she’s there for you at all times. She’s the exact type of person a Penn State captain would be and I think she’s going to do an awesome job."
The vote for the new captains was close, with the new captains winning the tally by one vote over another rising senior, Daryl Konsevick.
But rather than displaying divisiveness, Hover said the closeness of the vote reflected the leadership of the entire new senior class, which also includes junior Alex Stine.
“That class, they’re going to lead this team and they’re going to take off," Hover said. "It’s amazing.”
Ettl said her class has already taken steps to begin to lead the team in a new direction.
“Next year we’re trying to come at the team with a completely new perspective," Ettl said. "We’ve already briefly met with the coaches as a soon-to-be senior class — all four of us — and we're going to make a change."
Leading the team well will be essential for the two captains, one new and one old, if they hope to take the team to even greater heights than last year's squad.
And that's the goal for the Nittany Lions — to make nationals as a team.
Hover said she's confident Ettl and Bencsko will be able to lead the team well and take it to the top.
Ettl is looking forward to the chance to show what she can do, leading the team from the front.
"I’m sure Whitney and I will be able to come up with great ideas together to lead the team to great things, and I truly believe this team can do anything we set our mind to," Ettl said. "So hopefully with the leadership with Whitney and I as co-captains and the senior class with all four of us we’ll be able to accomplish it all.”
April 24, 2011 at 7:08 PM
Sharaya Musser, a sophomore on the Penn State women's gymnastics team, has been named a finalist for the 2010-11 Honda Sports Award for the top woman collegiate gymnast.
Her fellow finalists for the award are Michigan's Kylee Botterman, Alabama's Kayla Hoffman and UCLA's Brittani McCullough.
Musser's season concluded on April 15, when she finished 12th in the all-around at the NCAA national championships at Kent State University.
Heading into nationals, and for most of the season, Musser was the No. 1-ranked gymnast in the country in the all-around, and ranked in the top-25 on every event for much of the season, as well.
Botterman, a senior who sat behind Musser at No. 2 in the all-around rankings for much of the season, won the all-around title on April 15 at nationals. She also won the AAI award for the nation's top gymnast, so Musser will have stiff competition for the Honda award.
April 5, 2011 at 9:18 PM
Assistant coach Randy Monahan was named the Regional Assistant Coach of the Year after the Lions placed third at the Tuscaloosa regional of the NCAA national championships.
Monahan is in his second year with Penn State, and his first year working with Jeff and Rachelle Thompson, the new coaches of the Nittany Lions.
Monahan works with the gymnasts on uneven bars every day in the gym, correcting their form and ensuring their handstands are straight. He also spots the gymnasts during their routines in the gym and at meets, playing an integral role on the team.
Monahan competed for Ohio State gymnastics from 2001 to 2005 and was a seven-time All-American with the Buckeyes.
Monahan's wife, volunteer assistant coach Jillian Monahan, coaches alongside Randy on the team.
Penn State's associate athletic director Susan Delaney-Scheetz, who recently announced her retirement, was also named the Regional Administrator of the Year.