Even while in the middle of the Nevada desert, Big Ten gymnastics programs have been accustomed to finding themselves at the top of the standings after the scores are announced.
Penn State tied Michigan with top 10 finishes in eight events at this weekend’s Winter Cup in Las Vegas, which assembled 74 of the top gymnasts in the country vying to earn a place on the United States senior national team. Five of the six gymnasts representing the Blue & White this weekend advanced to the final round of competition on Saturday.
While the Nittany Lions had no individual event winners, they were the only team to place three gymnasts in the top 20 of the overall competition. Sophomore Matthew Felleman led the Lions with a combined score of 164.800 in two days of competition, placing ninth overall.
“It’s pretty exciting [finishing ninth]. It was nerve- racking competing against former Olympians,” said Felleman. “It gives me a perspective on what I have to do to going forward.”
Senior team captain Parker Raque and freshman Trevor Howard joined Felleman in the top-20 of the all-around competition, finishing in 15th and 19th respectively.
Sophomore Craig Hernandez, who is the NCAA scoring leader in the pommel horse, continued his streak of strong performances in Las Vegas. He rounded out the finals with a score of 14.450, earning the Libertyville, Ill. Native a place on the podium with a third-place finish.
The six gymnasts and coach Randy Jepson will return from Las Vegas this week and rejoin the team before traveling to Philadelphia to take on No.11 William and Mary and No.12 Temple in a tri-meet on Saturday.