That’s what Penn State head coach Sarah Shire Brown called the ending of the team’s 2022 season.
While teams around the country were celebrating firsts, so was Penn State. Penn State’s first, however, was not the kind one wants to celebrate. The Nittany Lions missed qualifying for regionals as a team for the first time. The season was a rough one, with beam hurting the Nittany Lions’ score week after week. The routinely low scores took regional qualification out of the control of the athletes, and the team ultimately missed out.
Senior Cassidy Rushlow recounted last season’s experience as “disappointing” and something she did not want to have happen again. One thing Brown told the team was, “it was only a fluke if it didn’t happen again,” and hearing that gave the whole team the motivation to put in the work in the gym.
For Penn State, the preseason started on April 1st. The whole team got together and began to work towards the goal of competing on regionals weekend. The focus was on “going the extra mile” and perfecting the details. All the returners and most freshmen came to campus to train together over the summer, which helped the team work daily towards a common goal and grow a deeper bond.
Rushlow felt a difference this year. The common goal was much stronger than earlier in her career, and the team was closer than before. The team has been able to simply have fun in the gym, and know that they “have faith in ourselves, confidence in ourselves and our teammates, and now we get to have fun too.”
As the season went along, the Nittany Lions continued to build momentum. The team hoped to make sure that they didn’t leave their “fate in someone else’s hands” once again. As the season came to a close, Penn State scored over 197 during Auburn’s senior night, allowing it to clinch its spot back into regional competition.
After a less-than-ideal beam rotation in the play-in meet on Thursday, Penn State let the relief wash over the team as the final scores came in, and the Nittany Lions defeated Towson to advance to the next round. Now Penn State is heading to the regional semifinals with a chance to qualify for the regional finals.
As Brown said, “what is a better opportunity than the postseason for us to keep dancing?”
Article by Alyssa Van Auker
Like what you see? Consider donating to support our efforts throughout the year! [wpedon id=”13158″]