No. 1 men’s gymnastics hosts Big Ten foe Ohio State
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The No. 1 Penn State men’s gymnastics team will look to continue its solid start to the 2013 campaign at 7 p.m. Saturday (Feb. 2) in Rec Hall against No. 5 Ohio State in the Big Ten opener for both squads. The two teams are each ranked in the top five of the latest GymInfo poll, which is currently made up of the team’s scoring average, as the Nittany Lions own an average score of 444.375 in two meets, while the Buckeyes are scoring 428.575 points in a pair of competitions.
PROMOTIONS: Saturday’s showdown will mark Penn State’s "Paint it Pink" meet. T-shirts will be available for purchase at the entrance to Rec Hall, with all fans buying or wearing their 2013 "Paint it Pink" t-shirts garnering free admission to the meet on Feb. 2. Fans can also purchase a "Paint it Pink" t-shirt on the west concourse of Rec Hall during the meet. T-shirts run in all sizes and cost $15. The men’s and women’s squads will be wearing pink during the meet to show their support for breast cancer awareness.
The Nittany Lions didn’t compete last weekend after winning the Navy Open title on Jan. 12 with a top score of 440.90 in the six team field. Penn State won five of the six individual events, owned the top three finishers on four apparatus and captured the top two spots in the all around on their way to the 16th straight in-season invitational title for the program.
Trevor Howard will look to capture his second straight all around title against the Buckeyes, who will have Jake Martin as their lone all around performer. Last weekend, Howard owns the fourth best all around total in the NCAA this season after posting a score 86.150 at the Navy Open. The rookie has claimed two Big Ten Freshman of the Week awards already this season and ranks among the NCAA top-ten on the still rings, (2nd; 15.425), vault (4th; 15.175), parallel bars (6th; 14.975) and high bar (10th; 14.600).
Even with the tenth best score in the NCAA on the high bar, Howard doesn’t event crack the top-five of the Penn State lineup on the apparatus. When you pull up the NCAA rankings you see that Penn State owns the top six scores on the event this season. Felix Aronovich and Matt Felleman are tied atop the national rankings with an average mark of 15.500 on the year, which has set a new Nittany Lion standard. Mackenzie Dow (15.250), Wasef Burbar (15.125), Nestor Rodriguez (14.950) and Parker Raque (14.725) round out the top-six for the NCAA’s top high bar lineup.
The pommel horse is another standout event for the Lions and sophomore Craig Hernandez highlights the lineup. Last weekend at the Navy Open, Hernandez rocked his way to the nation’s top score of 15.750, which broke his own school record that was set at last season’s NCAA Championships, and claimed the individual title in the event. His season average score of 15.275 ranks second behind Army’s Garrek Hojan-Clark average of 15.325.
In the national rankings, Penn State is the top team in the NCAA on pommel horse, still rings, vault and high bar. In the pommel, PSU is leading with an average tally of 75.050, in front of Oklahoma’s 71.817 and Ohio State’s 71.325 averages. Penn State is narrowly in front of Big Ten foes on the rings and vault, leading Illinois, 74.025-73.833, on the rings and sitting ahead of Michigan, 74.925-74.350, on the vault. The high bar is their top event average after two meets this season and the Nittany Lions are nearly five points ahead of second place Oklahoma, 75.775-70.883.
The Nittany Lions and Buckeyes will begin at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 2 inside Rec Hall. The meet will be a double dual with the women’s teams from both schools also in competition.