The Penn State men’s gymnastics team stayed perfect on Saturday night, defeating No. 5 Ohio State 444.300-432.300 at Rec Hall.
The top-ranked Nittany Lions proved dominate once again, claiming five of the six individual titles in their Big Ten opener.
“I think we made a statement tonight beating Ohio State. It will give [schools] something to look at, that we’re contenders for the Big Ten and NCAA championships,” said sophomore Craig Hernandez, who won the pommel horse event for the second straight meet, following his school record-breaking performance at the Navy Open two weeks ago. “It’s great getting the first win versus a Big Ten opponent.”
While the team is still undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the country, coach Randy Jepson said he thinks it can be even better.
“We’re really trying to develop a mindset of consistency. Overall, I’m very pleased,” Jepson said. “The good news is there’s a lot of room for fine-tuning.”
Freshman Trevor Howard won the all-around competition for the second straight meet, defeating the Buckeyes’ Jake Martin 88.250-88.000. While the two-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week barely edged out Martin, his mindset was not on the running tally.
“I do not look at the scoreboard [when competing],” Howard said. “That just adds more pressure that you don’t need. I just focus on myself.”
The Ohio-nativestarted the night off strong, coming away victorious in the floor exercise.
While Howard’s lowest score of the night was registered in the pommel horse, Jepson came away from the night impressed from the newcomer’s performance in the event.
“The biggest thing I saw with him tonight was that he competed on pommel horse,” Jepson said. “He didn’t just participate, he competed in that routine. Though he didn’t hit a big score, it’s big for him in his development as a gymnast.”
Experience competing in the event will be beneficial, as Howard will be one of six Nittany Lions traveling to Las Vegas this upcoming week to compete in the Winter Cup. The annual tournament hosts the top collegiate teams and gymnasts, with performances and scores affecting selections for the United States national gymnastics team.
“It will be a big challenge,” Jepson said.