UNIVERSITY PARK – Chants of “We Are…Penn State” rang through the Rec Hall on Saturday (April 5) evening as the No. 15 Penn State women’s gymnastics team compiled a score of 196.725 to finish second at the NCAA Regional Championships and earned a berth at the NCAA Championships on April 18-20 in Birmingham, Ala.
The Nittany Lions will be making their first appearance at the NCAA Championships since 2009 and their 17th overall trip to the national summit. The Nittany Lions finished behind No. 1 Florida’s score of 197.050, but bested No. 12 Oregon State (196.525), Kentucky (195.925), No. 23 New Hampshire (195.025) and Maryland (194.525).
“If you were in the building you know how exciting it was tonight,” said head coach Jeff Thompson. “Heading into the last rotation I told them to just go out there and do what they do every day in practice: Go out there and be us. We got off to a great start and we hit all of our [floor] routines.
“This is a really fun group to coach. At the beginning of the season, I don’t think people expected a lot from us…but this speaks volumes to the hard work that these girls have put in and how much they believe in each other, how much they believe in the coaching staff and our system. I think they just went out there and had a lot of fun tonight and it paid off.”
The senior class of Kassidy Stauder (Palmerton, Pa.) and Lindsay Musgrove (League City, Texas) closed out their home career’s on a high note by grabbing one of 12 spots at the NCAA Championships on April 18-20 in Birmingham, Ala.
“Competing for the last time in Rec Hall was awesome,” said Stauder, “and there is no other way I would rather to leave Rec Hall than to qualify to the NCAA Championships with my team. It was an incredible way to go out.”
As a team, Penn State posted the highest score of the six teams on the floor exercise to cap the meet and opened the meet with the second best team score on the vault. They ranked second on the balance beam and third on the uneven bars.
Their score of 49.425 tied their season-best effort on the floor exercise at the Big Ten Championships and equals the seventh best performance in school history. The logged their third best score of the season on the vault at 49.300. The team also scored 49.050 on the uneven bars and 48.950 on the balance beam, an event that only Oregon State topped the 49.000 mark.
Opening the meet on vault, Penn State used a pair of 9.900 efforts from freshman Emma Sibson (Allen, Texas) and Sidney Sanabria-Robles (Caguas, Puerto Rico). The score from Sanabria-Robles ties her career-high on the event, while Sibson has now topped the 9.900 mark on the vault four times this season, including scores of 9.900 in each of the last two meets. The duo tied for third on the event and Randi Lau (Honolulu, Hawaii) tied for 10th with a 9.850.
The uneven bars featured the only true misstep from the Blue and White, with a fall on the event, but following the slip-up the final three gymnasts picked up their teammate. After Samantha Musto (Hammonton, N.J.) and Alex Witt (Odessa, Fla.) posted scores of 9.775 and 9.850, respectively, the fall took place, but Sanabria-Robles followed with a 9.800, Krystal Welsh (Bowie, Md.) tallied a 9.750 and Stauder (Palmerton, Pa.) closed the event with a 9.875 to tie for fifth overall on the apparatus.
Witt’s score of 9.850 was her second highest of the season and helped her place tied for seventh overall on the uneven bars in her only event of the night.
Sibson closed out the night with two solid scores on the balance beam and floor exercise. The rookie tied her career-best effort on the balance beam at 9.825 and tied for fifth overall on the event and her 9.850 on the floor exercise helped the Nittany Lions to the seventh highest team score in school history.
The balance beam was the lowest scoring event of the night for Penn State, but the Lions were able to post score of 9.750 or better on all six routines. They followed their lowest scoring event with their highest scoring event and sent the crowd into a frenzy.
After Sanabria-Robles opened up the event with a career-best score of 9.900, Lau followed suit with a personal-best score of 9.900 and Stauder tied her career-high with a 9.875. A pair of 9.850 scores from Sibson and Welsh book ended the third 9.900 on the event by Musgrove. It was the fourth 9.900 or better for Musgrove on the event in 2012 and clinched the Nittany Lions berth into the NCAA Championship field.
--Penn State Athletic Communications