April 21, 2013 at 11:07 AM
Reigning Big Ten champion Michigan bested Penn State to become the NCAA champions at Rec Hall on Saturday. After a number of errors and mishaps, the No. 1 Nittany Lions placed fourth at the championships.
The Lions were the favorite as this meet as they sat atop the national rankings all season. However, Penn State was not able to keep up with Michigan’s consistently solid routines. A fall off the high bar and faulty landings on the vault and parallel bars cost the Lions heavily. The team was able to recover and placed above Illinois and Iowa.
Defending champion Illinois had a disappointing night as they ended up dead last. Plagued by a series of errors, the Illini were not able to recover and finished more than 20 points behind Michigan. Iowa placed fifth after barely clinching a spot in the finals. Iowa and California ended up with a tie in the qualifying round, which took place in two different sessions on Friday. After both Iowa and California inquired, Iowa clinched a spot in the finals.
The Lions were undefeated in the regular season, but were handed their first loss by Michigan at the Big Ten Championship earlier this month. Senior Mackenzie Dow said that he had higher expectations for the team this meet.
“We started out the season really strong and were really prepared,” he said. “It’s disappointing to end the season this way.”
Michigan junior Sam Mikulak was crowned the all-around champion, and Lion Felix Aronovich placed fourth. The top 10 individuals from each event in Saturday’s finals will compete at Sunday’s individual event finals.
April 20, 2013 at 11:08 AM
â€‹The No. 1 Penn State men’s gymnastics team topped the field on Friday night in the second NCAA championships qualifying round, outscoring five other teams in an impressive performance in Rec Hall.
â€‹The Lions tallied a total score of 436.900 on the night and will advance from their group to Saturday’s finals along with Stanford and Iowa. Earlier in the day, Michigan, Oklahoma and Illinois also qualified for the team championships which will be held in Rec Hall at 7 p.m.
â€‹In front of an enthusiastic home crowd, the Lions dominated the pommel horse event with the highest combined total score of 72.300. Big Ten champion Craig Hernandez led the way, registering nearly half-a-point higher than the second place finisher with a score of 15.400.
â€‹Hernandez said he noticed the crowd’s importance to the team’s performance on the evening.
â€‹“[The crowd] gets me excited and want to go out and compete,” Hernandez said. “I want to do well and get them to cheer more.”
â€‹Penn State also finished with the highest team score in the still rings with a combined tally of 75.200, but the event will be remembered most for senior Nihir Kothari’s return to competition. After earning All-American honors in the event last year, Kothari suffered a torn ACL after landing awkwardly in preseason practice in October. Half-a-year later, the Malvern, Pa. native made his return and drew a standing ovation and a hug from Jepson after earning 14.750 on his routine.
â€‹“I’m really proud of Nihir. We told him to prepare like he was going to compete, and he did. He was heroic today,” Jepson said. “I was so happy for the kid. Those are the types of kid that have made up our program over the past several years.”
The coach said that today the team was focused on advancing and setting themselves up to do battle with the other five remaining schools on Saturday night, all vying for the coveted NCAA championship trophy.
â€‹Jepson’s squad will need their top performance of the season in order to claim their 13th national championship, as Michigan posted a team score of 443.850, six more points than any other competitor.
February 11, 2013 at 3:33 PM
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.
January 13, 2013 at 12:58 PM
The Penn State men’s gymnastics team opened up its 2013 campaign with an impressive victory over Army on Saturday night at Rec Hall.
“This was probably the best first meet I’ve ever had,” said head coach Randy Jepson, whose fourth-ranked team outscored the Black Knights 447.850 to 403.650.
The Nittany Lions were in control from the beginning of the meet, with senior Matt Chelberg winning the floor exercise with a score of 15.000.
“I was just thinking exactly what I had to do on each skill and stay focused on that. I stayed aggressive the whole time and things turned out pretty well,” said the Athens, Ohio native.
Penn State continued to dominate the 13th-ranked Black Knights after the floor exercise, winning four of the following five events. Army’s Garrek Hojan-Clark won the individual pommel horse.
“We had three goals tonight,” Jepson said. “We wanted to first stay healthy, which I think we did. Second, was to have no more than six misses (they had five), and finally have no more than two misses on a single event. And we did that.”
Next weekend, the team travels to Annapolis, Md. to compete in the Navy Open.
“We go to an away floor next week and that’s a totally different story than being at home,” Jepson said. “But right now, we’re ahead of where I thought we would be.” He also added that this win will help motivate the team early in their season.
Senior Felix Aronovich was named the most outstanding performer on the night, finishing in second place in five of the six events. Aronovich, who is from Israel, was one of 19 Penn Staters to compete in last summer’s London Olympics.
On hand to present Aronovich with his award was Penn State cheerleader Paige Raque, the younger sister of team captain Parker Raque. When she took to the center of Rec Hall, she received a standing ovation after last year’s accident in which she fell from a window in Calder Commons. Raque has been in Kentucky recovering, but still plays an influential role on the team.
“It’s amazing what she went through. It was hard on the team with Parker, our captain, being out of training for a week. We all felt sad but seeing her recover every week has been a great spiritual push for our team”, Aronovich said.
April 19, 2012 at 6:44 PM
The Penn State men’s gymnastics team qualified for the team finals in the NCAA Championships.
The No.2 Nittany Lions are in Norman, Okla. to seek a national title this weekend. Today, they placed second in the session one qualifier round. This advances them to the team finals on Friday.
The Lions scored 353.00, right behind No. 8 Michigan, who scored 353.450. No.3 Stanford also moves on to Friday from the session one qualifier round.
Here are the highlights of the day:
-The Lions placed first overall in pommel horse (59.650) and still rings (60.150)
-Senior Warren Yang placed fifth on floor with a score of 15.100, while freshman Craig Hernandez placed ninth with a score of 14.950
-Hernandez placed first on the pommel with a score of 15.550 with second placed behind by a whole .500 of a point
-Sophomore Adrian Evans placed third on pommel with a score of 14.950, while junior Mackenzie Dow placed ninth on the event with a score of 14.650
-On rings, junior Scott Rosenthal and senior captain Miguel Pineda took the top two spots with scores of 15.550 and 15.400 respectively
-Junior Felix Aronovich placed fifth on rings with a score of 14.650. Redshirt sophomore Nihir Kothari was not far behind in seventh with a score of 14.550
-Freshman Tristan Duverglas placed seventh on vault with a score of 15.150, while junior Parker Raque finished ninth with a score of 14.900
-Dow also placed ninth on parallel bars with a score of 14.450, while Yang placed seventh with a score of 14.500
-Aronovich placed third on high bar with a score of 14.750 and Yang eighth with a score of 14.4 and Dow tenth with a score of 14.3
Look for the Lions Friday night as they compete in the NCAA team finals championships at 8 p.m. ET. The individual all-around champion will also be crowned that night.
April 19, 2012 at 10:56 AM
The Nittany Lions are already accumulating awards Wednesday in Norman, Okla. and they haven’t even competed yet.
Head coach Randy Jepson was awarded with the 2012 Central Region Coach of the Year, while senior captain Miguel Pineda was distinguished as the Nissan Emery Award finalist at the NCAA/CGA Men’s gymnastics award banquet.
Both Jepson and Pineda have long lists of accomplishments, especially in this season alone. Here’s a little background, along with (only some) of their accomplishments.
Bit of background:
-Penn State alumnae (1982)
-Captain of the Nittany Lions gymnastics team in his era and an All-American on still rings
-A Nissan-Award nominee as a senior at Penn State
-Posted a perfect 10.0 on still rings in 1983 at Rec Hall
-Was assistant coach to former head coach Karl Schier for six seasons prior to taking his current position as head coach
-Undefeated at home
-Won 14th consecutive West Point Open title
-Established two of the nation’s highest team scores
-Posted a program record team score of 360.600
-Placed third at Big Ten Championships
-Ranked No.1 in the nation on pommel horse and still rings
-Crowned two individual Big Ten champions: junior Scott Rosenthal on still rings and freshman Craig Hernandez on pommel horse.
Overall by the numbers:
-21st year as head coach
-3 National Championships
-2 Big Ten titles
-3-time National Coach of the Year
-2-time Big Ten Coach of the Year
-16 individual NCAA title winners
-20 individual Big Ten champions
-2 Nissan-Emery award winners
Bit of background:
-From Galloway, Ohio
-Junior National Team member (2004-2007)
-Brother, Pedro, competed on Ohio State’s men’s gymnastics team from 2005-2007
-Penn State’s first finalist for the Nissan-Emery award since 2009
-Ranked No.4 in the nation on still rings
-Consistent contributor to vault and parallel bars.
-Wayne Duke Postgraduate Award recipient
-Penn State’s Ernest B. McCoy Award recipient
By the numbers:
-2-time Big Ten Distinguished Scholar recipient
-3-time CGA First Team All-American Scholar Athlete
-3.98 GPA (top one-half percent of his class)
-Capital One Academic All-America Men’s At-Large First Team
- NCAA Elite 88 Award recipient
The No.2 Penn State men's gymnastics team will begin its road to the NCAA title with qualifiers on Thursday scheduled at 2 p.m. ET.
March 27, 2012 at 11:24 PM
The rankings are out for the week and the Penn State men’s gymnastics team finally got what they deserved.
After setting the top score in the nation twice, the Nittany Lions surpassed previous No. 1 seed Oklahoma Tuesday to take their position at the top of the NCAA weekly rankings.
Watching them the past few weeks in competition, it was only a matter of time. Since their only loss to Michigan on Jan. 21, the Lions have really stepped it up.
Head coach Randy Jepson said he yelled a lot at practice the week after that meet. He said they were better than that. Meanwhile, senior captain Miguel Pineda said the gymnasts needed the motivation, and he hoped it would work.
Well, needless to say, it worked.
After their only loss, the guys seemed to never stop breaking records, accumulating season-highs and winning. On top of that, they've earned a long list of awards, including numerous Big Ten Gymnast and Freshman of the Week honors.
Despite its long list of accomplishments just in the regular season, the team isn’t cocky. However, they do show more and more confidence in every meet they perform in. If I were any other coach in the Big Ten, and in the nation, I would say they’re a force to be reckoned with.
The last time the Lions won Big Ten Championships was in 2008, when it was hosted at Penn State. The last time they won the NCAA Championships was in 2007. Since then, they’ve been building up to what they are now: a team to fear.
Don’t be surprised if you see them at No. 1 once again, not only at Big Ten championships but at NCAA championships too.
April 27, 2011 at 12:26 AM
Miguel Pineda is the new captain of the Penn State men's gymnastics team.
Pineda was nominated and then elected by his teammates last week. He will replace Matt Albrecht, who will be a senior next year but will no longer be eligible to compete.
Pineda has become a reliable piece to the Lions' still rings team, and has also seen success on parallel bars and pommel horse. He is fresh off of his first All-American honor after placing second on the rings at NCAA individual finals.
He will be the team's only true senior next season. Redshirt seniors will include Logan Wyman, who performed only three routines this season, Colin Hill and Warren Yang.
Pineda has already demonstrated leadership on the team, evident in his election as next season's sole captain. He is one of the team's smartest gymnasts, highlighted by a 4.0 grade point average in 2010, and he should be an excellent leader for both new teammates and old.
As for Albrecht, he said he will likely stick around practices and help out the team. It's also possible he will continue to train, although at a much lighter level than the other gymnasts.
April 8, 2011 at 4:21 PM
The NCAA has announced the 12-team field that will compete to qualify next Thursday for the NCAA championships in Columbus, Ohio. Two sessions each consisting of six teams are displayed below (there is a one bye rotation in each session):
Floor Exercise- Penn State
BYE- University of Illinois- Chicago
Pommel Horse- Independent/All-Around
Still Rings- Air Force
Parallel Bars- Oklahoma
High Bar- Illinois
Floor Exercise- Iowa
Pommel Horse- Independent/All-Around
Still Rings- Ohio State
Parallel Bars- Stanford
High Bar- Nebraska
Procedure: The top three teams from each session will advance to the NCAA championships in addition to the top three all-around competitors not already on an advancing team and the top three gymnasts in each event not already on an advancing team or advancing in the all-around. All regular season scores hold no significance in determining qualifiers.
Team Breakdown: Penn State will start on floor exercise and end on high bar -- a rotation cycle they are used to. Coach Randy Jepson is happy with the Lions' session placement because Penn State is the third best team in its group on paper. The Lions are happy they are not ending the meet on pommel horse like at Big Ten championships. They will look to rebound on the apparatus after their worst performance in over a year at Big Tens. The Lions have been a force on rings all season, and the adrenaline of NCAAs should bring out their best routines. They should command the apparatus and place first in their session. If the Lions can control their nerves, they should also do well on high bar, an apparatus they've gradually improved upon towards the final stretch. With minimal damage on the parallel bars , the Lions have the potential to post decent scores in floor exercise. Vault is anybody's guess -- the Lions have been Jekyll and Hyde in this event all season.
Gymnasts to Watch:
Senior Matt Albrecht - The captain had one of the worst meets of his career at Big Ten championships, spotlighted by a career-low 10.100 on pommel horse. Jepson confirmed at practice on Wednesday that Albrecht has been suffering from long-term shoulder strain throughout the season. Junior Miguel Pineda said the gymnasts poke fun at him for it, calling him an "old man." Pineda also said that it is hasn't been a detriment to his performance during competition, since the adrenaline usually overrides any pain. In Albrecht's last meet in a Nittany Lion uniform, expect him to try and end his career on a high note.
Sophomore Felix Aronovich- The Israeli-native is the only Lion to have consistently competed in every event all season. He joined the all-around towards the end of the regular season, and has been working on increasing his endurance so he can get his scores up. Aronovich might be the Lions fiercest competitor on the mats, and a hard-working perfectionist. Sometimes he has to stop himself from overdoing it so he doesn't injure himself. He is key for the Lions on pommel horse despite falling from the apparatus at Big Tens. He is the only Lion to score over a 15.000 on horse during the season. He is a sleeper pick in the all-around simply because of his unadulterated athleticism, but it is unlikely he will break the top three.
Freshman Wasef Burbar- Burbar didn't really come into his own until early March, when he strung together three straight 15+ high bar scores to shoot him to No. 10 in the country on the apparatus. Burbar has cooled down a bit of late, but he is no stranger to the limelight, competing at the international level before arriving at Penn State. He is a sleeper pick on high bar, but must first past No.2 Ian Makowske of Michigan, No. 4 Jacob Dalton of Oklahoma and No. 5 Jordan Valdez of Illinois.
Sophomore Mackenzie Dow- Dow went under the radar at Big Tens because of the Lions' abysmal pommel horse rotation, but he scored a career-high 16.050 on vault. Dow boasts a very high start value in vault, meaning the level of difficulty is high. He is known to miss and fall on his butt, but when he lands on his feet, he can give the Lions a lot of momentum.
Junior Miguel Pineda- He is a key component to the Lions' stellar rings team and arguably their most reliable gymnast. He will hammer out a next-to-none rings routine, followed by a solid parallel bars performance only 20 minutes later. One of the Lions' strongest gymnasts, he is poised to take a leadership role next season with the departure of Matt Albrecht.
Sophomore Parker Raque- He was a workhorse at the beginning of the season, making an attempt at the all-around, but has gradually decreased in his workload so that he can mainly focus on floor exercise, still rings and vault. He is a big part of a largely underrated Lions floor squad, almost always posting in the high 14's to low 15's. He can hold his own on vault, too, having been one of the few Lions to have broken 16.000 this season. Rosenthal could easily medal in the still rings individuals.
Sophomore Scott Rosenthal- He is No. 3 in the country on still rings, his signature event. Not the most artistic gymnast, Rosenthal walked onto the team last season after Jepson identified his absurd amount of upper body strength. Jepson molded him into a rings specialist, and now is the Lions highest scorer on the apparatus. Despite all his success, Rosenthal has yet to break 16.000 this season, and he may be ready to do so at NCAAs.
Freshman Francisco Vazquez- The Puerto Rico native may be the Lions most improved gymnast on the season, scoring career-highs on floor, pommel horse and vault in his last meet of the regular season at Oklahoma. When he is at his best, he can compete with anybody in the field. He did strain his back at Big Tens, but Jepson doesn't believe it will be an issue come time for NCAAs.
Junior Warren Yang- Yang is the Lions' most artistic gymnast, leading the team on floor exercise. Jepson has kept tabs on Yang's start value in floor since the redshirt junior is in his first season back from shoulder surgery. Nonetheless, the passes Yang can land on floor are among the best in the country. Having extensive experience on the international level for his native Canada, Yang is always a passionate competitor on the mats. He could sneak away with a medal in the individual floor competition, simply because some of the things he is capable of are borderline unbelievable.
Predicted Session I Winners:
Third- Penn State
Sleeper- Not really one in this session. If anybody other than those three schools advanced, it would be classified as a major upset.
Predicted Session II Winners:
Sleeper- Ohio State. Based on the Buckeyes third-place performance at Big Ten championships, they are not as out-of-it as many think. Don't forget, they have home gym advantage.
Final notes: Pre-practice shenanigans Wednesday consisted of trying to shoot a volleyball into a garbage can from one side of the gym to other. Sophomore Tony Beck and redshirt junior Logan Wyman tried, but ultimately failed.
March 15, 2011 at 10:46 AM
The Penn State men's gymnastics team has been lucky this season with its lack of injuries.
Unlike many teams in the NCAA, the Nittany Lions haven't lost any gymnasts yet from an accident on the mats.
However, they weren't as fortunate when it came to staving off illness last weekend.
Coach Randy Jepson confirmed redshirt junior Colin Hill, sophomore Parker Raque, sophomore Scott Rosenthal and redshirt freshman Francisco Vazquez were all sick for the Lions' meet against the Puerto Rico National Team in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Raque and Vazquez both competed, but neither were anywhere near 100 percent. Raque performed in only two events as opposed to his typical four. He received his second-lowest score of the season on vault (14.600) and his lowest on still rings (13.350).
Vazquez was penciled in for three events, but only competed in one. He received a season-low 10.900 on pommel horse, prompting Jepson to pull him for the rest of the meet.
Vazquez, a San Juan native, was denied an opportunity to compete in front of his friends and family in the city where he grew up. Jepson did not rule out the possibility of the Lions competing in Puerto RIco next season, so he will have to wait at least another year before he gets a chance like this again.
Rosenthal and Hill did not compete last Saturday. Rosenthal traveled with the team, but was pulled from his signature event -- the still rings -- to prevent further detriment to his health.
Hill had strep throat, so he did not travel with the team.
However, the Lions still managed to edge Puerto Rico, 342.500-340.550, despite their thin roster. They looked for someone to step up Saturday morning during training sessions, and sophomore Matt Chelberg did so in a big way.
Chelberg, the second tallest Lion at 5-foot-10, brought so much intensity into his high bar warmup that he broke the apparatus completely. He walked away with no injury, but the same couldn't be said for the high bar.
As for the No. 5 Lions' upcoming meet with No. 2 Oklahoma and No. 4 Illinois, Jepson expects his sick gymnasts to be ready for competition.
This is not the first time this season a Lion has gotten a bug. Senior Matt Albrecht and redshirt junior Warren Yang were ill a few weeks ago, but both recovered without setback. Yang also had an allergic reaction to something he ate before the Lions' meet at Illinois, but it proved inconsequential.
One other gymnast has been recovering from mononucleosis all season, but Jepson and the gymnasts declined to specify whom.
The Lions will need every man they can get next Saturday in Norman, Okla., as they try to finish their regular season strong before traversing back to Champaign, Ill. for Big Tens.