Penn State travels to Ann Arbor for the Big Five Meet
UNIVERSITY PARK, PA. – Penn State’s # 30 women’s gym team hit the road again on Saturday as the team travels to Ann Arbor, Michigan, for the Big Five Meet.
The Nittany Lions will compete against No. 5 Michigan, No. 12 Iowa, and No. 43 Rutgers.
Penn State put in a solid performance at their tri-meet at the Rec Hall last weekend, with a team rating of 195,925. The score was the Nittany Lions’ second highest achievement that season. The team set season highs on both bars (49.250) and the bar (49.100).
Penn State posted six career highs individually. At the top was senior Alissa Bonsall, who had the best results of her career on both Bars (9.90) and Beam (9.875). In bars, three different Nittany Lions posted career highs as both Natalie Cross (9,925) and Maddie Johnston (9,800) hit new highs. Amy Bladon posted a career high of 9,775 on the floor while Melissa Astarita hit a 9,850 on the bar. Astarita also added an impressive 9,900, which was just below their career high of 9,925.
This weekend’s competition is the first of the season against any of Penn State’s three opponents.
Fans can keep up with the action by watching Big Ten Network +, watching live scoring, and checking for updates on our social media pages on Facebook (PennStateWomensGymnastics) and Twitter / Instagram (@pennstatewgym).
Penn State has an all-time streak advantage this weekend against two of their opponents: 8-3 against Iowa and 22-1 against Rutgers. Michigan leads the head-to-head match against the Nittany Lions 16-7.
MEET THE OPPONENTS
Meet Host Michigan got off to a good start to the 2021 campaign. Bev Plockis # 5 Wolverines have won all four of their doubles meetings this season, averaging 197,025 points.
After the season opener in Minnesota, Iowa has recorded five wins in a row. Larissa Libby’s Hawkeyes currently occupy 12th place in the ranking with an average score of 196,458.
Rutgers holds a 1-5 record and ranks 43rd in the ranking. Coach Umme Salim-Beasley’s third-year squad has averaged 193,860 this season.
Cassidy Rushlow ranks 31st in the nation with an average of 9,863.
Melissa Astarita’s average of 9,875 on the ground ranks 32nd in the nation. With an average of 9,850, it ranks 38th in the beam.
As a team, Penn State ranks 23rd in bars.
Nine of Penn State’s 24 pitches were occupied by newbies in the season opener against Maryland. Three other lineup spots earned their first score at the event as the Nittany Lion.
Natalie Cross led the group, led Penn State on Vault (9,850) and Beam (9,875), finished second overall in both events and competed at bars. Maddie Johnston scored a solid 9,825 on Beam and finished third in the meeting. She also participated in vaults and poles. Maggie Ayers made her Penn State debut on poles, beams and floor. Amy Bladon made her Nittany Lion debut on Beams and Floor, while Donna Howell made her debut on Tresor.
HOME SWEET HOME
Penn State averaged 196,230 points in five home meetings last season, the highest in the Rec Hall since 2015. The Nittany Lions averaged 196,000 or more in each of their last four home games, highlighted by a 196,575 PSU quad meet .
The Nittany Lions scored over 49,000 bars in four out of five encounters, followed by 49,300 against West Virginia. Penn State scored 49,000 or better in four home games and finished with a 49,325 against Florida. The blues and whites earned 49,000 or better on the floor in four meetings, led by 49,375 against Iowa.
BONSALL, RUSHLOW RECEIVE B1G RECOGNITION
Senior Alissa Bonsall and sophomore Cassidy Rushlow have been named Big Ten Gymnasts to Watch.
Bonsall won four individual event titles in 2020, including two on the vault and two on the beam. She earned 9,900 on both vault and poles. She has three career values of 9,900 on Bars.
Last season, Rushlow finished 39,130 NQS in 39th place in the overall standings. She also sat 63rd on bars with a 9,855 NQS. Rushlow won five individual event titles in 2020, including an all-round title, two on the vault, one on the beam, and one on the beam. She earned two points of 9,900 on bars, 9,900 on vault and 9,925 on bars.