By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
PARK, Pa- Entering the 2013 men's gymnastics season, Penn State sophomore Matt
Felleman knew he had a lot to prove.
After a freshman season in which he showed promise but was also hampered by an elbow injury, Felleman came into his sophomore campaign determined to be one of the Nittany Lion's top gymnasts.
"I trained a lot harder this past summer than the one before," said Felleman. "I really wanted to work on my skills and put together better routines."
Two meets into the season, Felleman has certainly showcased plenty of skills, establishing himself as one of the team's highest and most reliable scorers.
The event he has really displayed his talent has been the high bar, where he set the school record with a score of 15.500 in the team's opening meet against Army, before tying it the following week at the Navy open.
"It's great to set a school record," said Felleman. "It's going to be tough to top it but I'm going to try and keep it consistent throughout the year."
Felleman was quick to state that while he has been pleased by his performance so far this year, the success has not come as a surprise to him.
Competing in seven of the team's nine meets his freshman season, Felleman thought he had shown he could be an elite gymnast despite missing most of the offseason, and knew that with a full summer of training he could hit the ground running going into his sophomore year.
"Being healthy this summer I had a lot more time to work on some things," said Felleman. "With the hard work I put in and the adrenaline rush I get during meets I knew I could perform this well."
Despite his fast start, Felleman is determined to continue to improve himself in his other events, such as pommel horse, rings, and the all-around competition.
If last week's Navy Open, in which he set a personal best on the pommel horse with a score of 14.100 while finishing second in the all-around competition, is any indicator, Felleman has already started to improve.
One thing that the Medway, Mass. native credited his growth as a gymnast to is the friendly competition emerging between he and his teammates, particularly freshman Trevor Howard, who narrowly edged him for first place in the all-around competition at Navy.
"Trevor and I definitely had a little competition to see who could get the better all-around score," said Felleman. "We're both good competitors so hopefully I can top him next time."
The person most proud of Felleman's improvement and performance is head coach Randy Jepson.
What has impressed Jepson the most about his sophomore is the more disciplined approach and mindset he has developed this season.
"He's been so much more disciplined this year," said Jepson. "He's really prepared himself in terms of his physical shape, his conditioning, his weight and he's really serious about getting some things done this year."
Jepson complimented Felleman not only on his work ethic but also on the skills that he first saw when he recruited him, such as his strength and explosiveness.
Although he has gotten off to such a fast start, Jepson believes that he is only starting to show the potential he has as a gymnast.
"I think he's just starting to scratch the surface on what his future holds," said Jepson. "I think he can be force at both the NCAA Championships and beyond at the USA National level."
For Felleman, getting to that level will mean just taking it one step at a time, both as an individual and as a team.
"I'm hoping to stay consistent and improve in all my events this year," said Felleman. "Team wise I think we can give everyone a run for their money."