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Russell, Penrose lead way in win over Ohio State

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10925764.jpegBy Tyler Feldman, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Senior outside hitter Aaron Russell notched a double-double (30 kills, 14 digs) and redshirt freshman Jalen Penrose added 19 kills as No. 10 Penn State (10-9, 4-0 EIVA) extended its winning streak to six matches after topping Big Ten foe No. 11 Ohio State (15-6, 7-3 MIVA) in five sets (22-25, 25-22, 25-20, 22-25, 15-9) this past Saturday night at Rec Hall.

Back on Feb. 11, the Nittany Lions lost in straight sets on the road against the Buckeyes, but thanks to Penrose's strong start and Russell's impressive finish, the Blue and White prevailed.

"We have all EIVA matches coming up, and we're feeling good," Russell said. "We definitely want to host the EIVA Tournament and go back to another Final Four."

This was a match that head coach Mark Pavlik expected between two very physical teams, noting that whoever controlled the net, won the serve and passed well would come out on top.

"When you see the guy next to you working hard and making's pretty easy to get excited and keep things flowing," Russell said.

Setter Taylor Hammond passed extremely well, tallying a season-high 61 assists. Plus, libero Connor Curry dug 12 balls to keep the Nittany Lions balanced defensively.

"It always feels good to unload on a ball," Russell said. "Credit goes to Taylor [Hammond] for putting it in the right place."

Twelve of Penrose's 19 kills came in the first two sets, while 21 of Russell's 30 kills took place in the final three frames.

"I've just been connecting well with Taylor and that [starting] unit," Penrose said. "They've been embracing me, and I've been embracing them. It's a core work."

According to the veteran Russell, Penrose has really grown and developed into a serious asset for the team.

"It's always fun to see him fly to a ball and unload on it, too...He's a big, physical guy and it's a lot of fun playing with him," Russell said about Penrose. "You can tell that he brings a lot of energy to our team."

After dropping a close set one, the Blue and White battled back to regain the lead by winning sets two and three. The Buckeyes took control and were victorious in set four, presenting a final frame to determine the outcome.

"I think the way we came out of set four is what really set us up for five," Pavlik said.

The Nittany Lions trailed in set four, 19-13, when four straight powerful serves from redshirt sophomore Andrew Roberts tilted momentum. Penn State would eventually lose the set, but carried stellar play into the final game.

"[Roberts] started the whole attitude for game five with that serving run and turning some points," Pavlik said. "Next thing you know, instead of being down by seven or eight, we're now in a three, four point game.... Andrew comes in and serves the ball well...and got us right back on track."

Penn State would side out a perfect 9-for-9 in the fifth set to win a highly competitive non-conference match.

"In order for us to turn points we need to play some defense," Russell said. "With only six blocks we have to come up with points somewhere else.... We were able to just read around our block and see the hitters pretty well."

The Nittany Lions will look to extend their winning streak and conference unbeaten streak this upcoming weekend when they host Princeton on Friday and NJIT on Saturday in the South Gym at Rec Hall.  

Nittany Lions Shock No. 21 Indiana With Late-Game Rally

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10925017.jpegBy Matt Allibone, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Entering Sunday's doubleheader against Indiana, the members of the Penn State baseball team were as anxious to get on the field as they'd been in a long time.

Not just because their scheduled games on Friday and Saturday had been postponed because of snow. A year after being swept by the Hoosiers at home by scores of 10-0, 8-1 and 9-2, the Nittany Lions were determined to prove they could compete with the Big Ten's elite.

They knew they still wouldn't be expected to win. They knew Indiana was the No. 21 team in the country and arguably the best team in the conference.

None of that mattered to them. After battling Indiana for 12 innings in a 5-4 loss, the Nittany Lions used back-to-back thrilling innings in the seventh and eight to come back from down seven and beat the Hoosiers 13-7 in the afternoon's second game.

"I think last year at this time, our guys didn't think they were at the same level," head coach Rob Cooper said. "I think today, our guys feel like they're at the same level. I think that's the difference. They still have a lot of guys who've been to Omaha (the College World Series) so that's a good club."

After a draining first game, things started off rough for the Lions in the second contest. The Hoosiers scored twice in the first inning and tacked on five more runs to take a 7-0 lead in the fourth.

Still, the Lions never checked out of the game mentally. They scored once in the fourth and again in the sixth to cut the lead to 7-2 and set up the ensuing madness of the next two innings.

As if a switch had been flipped, the seventh inning started and the Lions couldn't make an out. Five batters would reach base on two hits and three errors as Penn State scored four runs to cut the lead to 7-6.

That was just the beginning of the excitement however. In the eighth, the Blue and White would load the bases on singles by Taylor Skerpon and Greg Guers and an intentional walk to Aaron Novak before sophomore shortstop Jim Haley cleared them with a blast to the left field fence for a triple despite having an 0-2 count against him.

"My mindset? Hit a ball like I did," Haley said with a smile. "I wasn't trying to do too much I was just trying to push a run across and he left a fastball over the pate and I took advantage of it."

By the time the dust had cleared, the Lions were entering the ninth inning with a six run lead. On an afternoon in which the Lions' bullpen was terrific in both games, Tom Mullin tossed his third scoreless inning to finish off the game and give Penn State their third win in four games.

Asked what he believed the turning point off the game was, Cooper said it was when the Lions answered a four-run Indiana fourth inning with a run of their own. While, it only made the score 7-1, the second year coach said it proved his club was still invested in winning.

"Man if I knew where that switch was I'd flip it a lot earlier," Cooper said. "It was 7-1 and our guys understood, we have to keep playing and they did. The game of baseball, man, it's a crazy game.

Penn State's first conference win of the year was played right after the first game, in which the Lions came up just short despite a terrific overall game from their pitching staff.

Starter Nick Hedge weathered a storm during a second inning in which two of the four runs he allowed were unearned, and still managed to go a total of 5 2/3 innings without giving up any more damage. Then, junior Jack Anderson and freshman Sal Biasi combined to throw 5 1/3 scoreless innings to keep the score knotted into extra innings.

Although the Hoosiers ended up tacking on a run in the 12th off of Nick Distastio, it was a very encouraging performance from a young pitching staff. In particular, Biaisi looked dominant in his seventh career appearance, striking out six batters (including five in a row) in 3 1/3 innings of work.

"Unbelievable," Cooper said. "Our guys in the first game pitched their tails off and gave us a chance to win. But if they don't pitch like that, we have no chance to win the second game because we blow our bullpen."

Now in his second year at Penn State, Cooper had already gotten the players to by into his program, but he was still looking for a signature win before Sunday. With the Lions beating a ranked opponent for the first time since April of 2012 however, he knows that his team is improving.

"I rank today up there, if not at the top because of their choice to compete," Cooper said. "I said after the first game, I said, 'guys, that's the first time since I've been here that I felt like you guys felt you were as good as anybody.' I could feel it. So that's why it ranks up." 

2015 NCAA Session VI Roundup: Matt Brown Wins National Title

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Session I Roundup - Video & Feature | Session II Roundup - Video & Feature
Session III Roundup - Video & Feature | Session IV Roundup - Video & Feature
Session IV Roundup - Video & Feature

ST. LOUIS - Senior Matt Brown etched his place into Penn State wrestling lore with a dramatic 5-4 victory in the 2015 NCAA title match at 174 pounds on Saturday night inside the Scottrade Center.

A model student-athlete in every sense of the word, Brown became Penn State's 23rd national champion (29 overall titles) in unique fashion on a locked hands technical point at the buzzer in the third period. Nevertheless, Brown earned the victory and will forever be a member of an elite club in wrestling history.

"When you're a little kid you dream of hitting that grand slam in the ninth inning, and sometimes it's a bunt," Brown said. "Still get the job done."

Brown will finish a stellar Penn State career with a 118-16 overall record. A three-time All-American, the Utah native notched his third-straight finish in the top five at the national tournament this season. A tireless worker on and off the mat, Brown is a humble national champion for the Penn State Blue and White.

"Pretty cool. I didn't expect the match to end like that. But that's how the ball bounces and it landed my way this time," said Brown.

As a team, the Nittany Lions' run of consecutive national titles will come to a close at four, but Penn State entered the national tournament in 2015 with a very young team. That being said, the Nittany Lions totaled five All-Americans, including three wrestlers who finished in the top five at their respective weight classes. With Brown's national championship, the Nittany Lions finished with 26 total victories and 67.5 points at the 2015 national tournament.

Final Team Standings
1. Ohio State - 102.0
2. Iowa - 84.0
3. Edinboro - 75.5
4. Missouri - 73.5
5. Cornell - 71.5
6. Penn State - 67.5

Brown_NCAA Title.jpgIt's rare to come across a student-athlete more deserving of success than Brown. One of the most polite individuals you will ever meet off the mat, Brown is a tenacious wrestler with a never-ending motor in the circle. His march through the 174-pound draw featured a pair of majors and three-straight victories that were decided by one point.

Battling eighth-seeded Tyler Wilps (Pittsburgh) in the national title match, Brown trailed 1-0 after two periods before a frenetic third. The Nittany Lion senior escaped to start the third to make it a 1-1 match. Brown added a takedown for a 3-1 lead. Wilps added an escape and then scored a takedown of his own to claim a 4-3 lead in the final 20 seconds. But Brown was not done.

10920500.jpegAwarded a stalling point in the final four seconds, Brown and Wilps finished the match off with the score tied at 4-4. Looking like a bout destined for sudden victory, the officials reviewed and awarded Brown a point for a Wilps locked hands violation, thus giving Brown his first national championship.

"I was disappointed I gave up the late takedown, but felt confident I could get away still and tie up the match," said Brown. "Had a tough ride, kind of just trying to get the time off the clock. Once the challenge started I felt comfortable because I knew he locked hands, and I was trying to point that out."

Brown's approach to the Penn State program has been team-first every second he has been in Happy Valley. He has the utmost respect from his fellow teammates and coaching staff.

"I just know how important it has been for Matt to be a national champion," head coach Cael Sanderson said. "He's been talking about being a national champion since we first started recruiting him many years ago. He's done everything we've asked him to do, the little things...I'm very happy for him. I'm very proud of him. He did a great job. And Matt Brown is a national champion."

Simply put, no one has deserved the opportunity to have his hand raised on the sport's ultimate stage than Brown. He is a first-class individual with an infectious personality, who has been truly grateful for the opportunity to be a student-athlete.

"He's a kid who has done everything we have asked," head assistant coach Casey Cunningham said. "He's one of the hardest workers we've ever had. He's a 4.0 (GPA) student...He's the type of kid you never worry about outside the room. You know he is doing the right things in leading the young guys. He's just been a pleasure to work with."

As Coach Sanderson succinctly put it, Matt Brown is a national champion for Penn State. And he will wear the crown with nothing but dignity and class.

The 2015 NCAA Championships are now complete. And attention has already turned to next season's national tournament, which will take place inside Madison Square Garden from March 15-17. Mark your calendars. The program will celebrate Brown's achievement, but the team has an eye on what lies ahead in the future.

Breaking Down the Nittany Lions

125: #11 Jordan Conaway (27-9) - 4-3 - Eighth Place (All-American)

133: #7 Jimmy Gulibon (26-9) - 4-2 - Fifth Place (All-American)

149: #12 Zack Beitz (19-11) - 1-2 - Tournament Complete

174: #2 Matt Brown (29-3) - 5-0 - NATIONAL CHAMPION (All-American)

184: #14 Matt McCutcheon (26-14) - 2-2 - Tournament Complete

197: #2 Morgan McIntosh (32-3) - 6-1 - Third Place (All-American)

285: #8 Jimmy Lawson (18-6) - 3-3 - Sixth Place (All-American)

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

VIDEO: James Franklin Spring Practice Update - March 21

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach James Franklin updated the media following Penn State's second of 15 spring practices on Saturday. The Nittany Lions practiced in Holuba Hall on Friday and Saturday. The team will return to the field on Monday, which marks the first full padded practice of spring ball. The Blue-White Game presented by AAA will kick at 4 p.m. on April 18.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

2015 NCAA Session V Roundup: McIntosh Takes Third

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Session I Roundup - Video & Feature | Session II Roundup - Video & Feature
Session III Roundup - Video & Feature | Session IV Roundup - Video & Feature

ST. LOUIS - By no means was the road to the top line of the consolation bracket and easy one for Morgan McIntosh on Saturday morning, but the junior knocked off a pair of top seeds on Saturday to cap off a strong run through the back draw en route to finishing third at 197 pounds during the medal round of the NCAA Championships.

McIntosh downed top-seeded J'Den Cox (Missouri) in the consolation semifinals before defeating fifth-seeded Scott Schiller (Minnesota) in the third-place match. Sophomore Jimmy Gulibon also won his final match of the tournament to finish in fifth spot at 133 pounds.

In addition to McIntosh and Gulibon, Jordan Conaway (125) and Jimmy Lawson (285) wrapped up competition in the medal round on Saturday morning. Conwaway finished eighth and Lawson was sixth. All five Lions in action on Saturday will head home as All-Americans for 2015.

While the Nittany Lions' run of consecutive national titles will end at four, Penn State entered the national tournament in 2015 with a young team. That being said, the Nittany Lions had five All-Americans, including three wrestlers who finished in the top five at their respective weight classes. With McIntosh's two wins and one from Gulibon, Penn State finished the fifth session with 63.5 total points in the team race. The Nittany Lions are sixth in the standings.

Session V Team Standings (Main Draw/Consolation)
1. Ohio State - 94.0 (3 Finalists)
2. Iowa - 84.0. (1 Finalist)
3. Edinboro - 75.5 (2 Finalists)
4. Missouri - 69.5 (1 Finalist)
5. Cornell - 67.5 (2 Finalists)
6. Penn State - 63.5 (1 Finalist)

10916839.jpegEntering the week as the Big Ten champion and second overall seed, McIntosh looked to be a prime candidate to wrestle in the national final at 197 pounds. But a narrow 3-2 setback in the quarterfinals sent the California native to the consolation draw.

McIntosh knew the Nittany Lions were counting on him to rebound after the loss, and he did so with a vengeance. Between Friday evening and Saturday morning, McIntosh rattled off four-straight victories in the back draw on his way to third. The list included three-straight over top six seeds in the 197-pound draw.

"It hurts to take a loss like that and know you can't get on the top of the podium this year, but I've learned over the years to put it in the past and not dwell on it," said McIntosh. "You can't think about what could have been or what you could have done. You can take away a lesson to learn from it, but you can't dwell on it and have negative thoughts in your head because that's just going to bring you down when you need to step up in wrestlebacks."

His first bout on Saturday featured a showdown with the No. 1 wrestler at 197. Down 1-0 after the first period against No. 1 Cox, McIntosh roared to an escape and takedown in the third period for a 3-1 win in the consolation semifinals. Then, he wasted little time grabbing a lead in the third-place match against Schiller. McIntosh used a pair of first-period takedowns for 4-1 edge. He added two reversals and a third takedown for a 12-7 victory to claim third.

The junior finished a stellar season with a 32-3 overall record and a Big Ten title. McIntosh will have 365 days to wait, but he is primed to make a run in next year's national tournament.

Gulibon also showed a great deal of grit during the week in St. Louis. Like everyone in the lineup, the 133-pound sophomore had aspirations of being on the stage in the finals on Saturday night. He fell just short in Friday's semifinals in a 7-5 decision against Iowa's Cory Clark. Gulibon dropped his first match on Saturday, but he battled back with a 9-5 win over Mason Beckman from Lehigh.

"(In a way), I'm glad I got fifth because it will serve as great motivation during the offseason," Gulibon said. "I need to work on finishing shots in the offseason, but everyone wrestled well (this week), and I'm looking forward to next year."

Lawson finished sixth after coming up short in a 6-0 decision against Iowa's Bobby Telford, but will finish as an All-American. Conaway came home with an eighth place finish at 125 pounds after yielding a last-second takedown to Oklahoma State's Eddie Klimara in the seventh-place match. Nonetheless, the junior finished 2015 as an All-American.

All eyes now shift towards the national finals. Matt Brown will wrestle on the sport's grandest stage in the 174-pound final on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET (ESPN). The championship finals will begin at 149 pounds, so Brown and Tyler Wilps of Pitt will wrestle in the fourth match on the lineup. Brown beat Wilps by a score of 6-5 at the Southern Scuffle in January.

"He is one of my best friends on the team, and he has been awesome," McIntosh said. "I'm so happy for him. He deserves this more than anyone. He's been a great partner (in the wrestling room), a great mentor and a great friend. I respect him a ton. I'm so excited to watch him."

The Nittany Lion senior is Penn State's 16th finalist since 2010. And by virtue of Brown competing in the final, it marks the sixth-straight year that a Nittany Lion is a national finalist.

Breaking Down the Nittany Lions

125: #11 Jordan Conaway (27-9) - 4-3 - Eighth Place (All-American)

133: #7 Jimmy Gulibon (26-9) - 4-2 - Fifth Place (All-American)

149: #12 Zack Beitz (19-11) - 1-2 - Tournament Complete

174: #2 Matt Brown (28-3) - 4-0 - National Final (All-American)
Up Next: Championship Round vs. No. 8 Tyler Wilps (Pitt)

184: #14 Matt McCutcheon (26-14) - 2-2 - Tournament Complete

197: #2 Morgan McIntosh (32-3) - 6-1 - Third Place (All-American)

285: #8 Jimmy Lawson (18-6) - 3-3 - Sixth Place (All-American)

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Baseball Looks to Continue Wednesday's Early Scoring

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By Mike Esse, Student Staff Writer

Heading into Wednesday's midweek clash with Canisius, Penn State baseball was focused on producing runs and producing them early. Why? Well, one reason was to avoid another 12-inning game like they had the night prior with Pittsburgh. Another reason, prior to Wednesday Penn State had scored just two runs in the first inning all season long.

Those numbers drastically changed against the Golden Griffins in the Nittany Lions' home opener. After Canisius got on the board first with one run in the top of the inning, Penn State piled home four base runners to get out to a strong 4-1 lead.

"It was nice to get some runs in the first inning but it was even better because they scored and our guys responded. I thought our guys did a good job and put good at bats together," head coach Rob Cooper said. "Even when their lefty came in, he was doing a good job, we kept battling and didn't waste some at bats there and it was a good job by our guys." 

Senior infielder Ryky Smith had a strong day at the plate, going 3-for-4 with four RBIs, including a first inning two-RBI single that gave Penn State its third and fourth runs of the inning.

Smith said coming into Wednesday producing with runners in scoring position was a point of emphasis for the Penn State bats, and the team had confidence in the first inning that they would reverse that trend.

"It's no secret we've been struggling with guys in scoring position over the last couple weeks, but today we had guys step up with clutch hits," Smith said. "I think the main thing we were doing was keeping the ball out of the air. We stayed down through the ball and hit some hard line drives. other than that we just had confidence today that we were going to get the job done with guys in scoring position."

Cooper echoed Smith, stating he was pleased with the team's ability to come through with runners on and with two outs.

"Our philosophy is if we get a runner on second base with nobody out we should score them every time," Cooper said. "If we get a runner on third with less than two outs we should score them every time. Today we did that early, then we did a great job with two outs, too."

Scoring with two outs was huge for the Nittany Lions in building their 11 run lead. In the seventh inning Penn State seemed to be going down 1-2-3, but with two outs the bats came alive. A Jim Haley walk and Tyler Kendall single began what led to a two run seventh inning that sealed the convincing win.

Now, with one of the Big Ten's best in Indiana heads into Medlar Field at Lubrano Park this weekend, Penn State's hitting wouldn't mind a similar effort. The Nittany Lions had a slightly difficult time adjusting to Canisius lefty Zachary Sloan who entered in the first inning and then was forced out by Penn State bats in the fifth. 

Smith said the Nittany Lion lineup took time to adjust, which they cannot do against the strong Hoosier staff.

"It was a lefty that came in and we didn't make the adjustment too soon (Wednesday)," Smith said. "Going into this weekend we need to make the adjustment quick. Figure out what the pitcher is trying to do to us early and try to make the adjustment quick. Indiana usually does have a pretty good pitching staff and if you don't make the adjustments they're going to make you pay for it."

Weather postponed the first game of the three-game set with Indiana, game times are still to be determined. Stay tuned to for updates.

2015 NCAA Session IV Roundup: Brown Headed to NCAA Final

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Session I Roundup - Video & Feature | Session II Roundup - Video & Feature
Session III Roundup - Video & Feature

ST. LOUIS - Following a 1-0 victory in the national semifinals on Friday evening, senior Matt Brown is headed to the 174-pound national title match at the NCAA Championships.

The undoubted team leader for Nittany Lion wrestling will compete in the tournament final for the second time in three seasons on Saturday inside the Scottrade Center. Brown's semifinal victory headlined a day where five Penn State wrestlers earned All-America honors in St. Louis.

"It was a tough semifinal match against Mike Evans of Iowa," Brown said. "He's a tough competitor. I was fortunate to come out with the W. It was a close match."

In addition to Brown, Jordan Conaway (125), Jimmy Gulibon (133), Morgan McIntosh (197) and Jimmy Lawson (285) are All-Americans for 2015 and remain alive in the consolation bracket.

In all, Penn State will have five wrestlers in action on Saturday, with one in the finals (Brown), three in the consolation semifinals (Gulibon, McIntosh and Lawson) and one in a seventh place bout (Jordan Conaway). Fueled by Brown's win in the semifinals, Penn State finished the fourth session of the tournament with 58.0 total points in the team race. The Nittany Lions are sixth in the standings.

Session IV Team Standings (Main Draw/Consolation)
1. Ohio State - 86.5 (3 Finalists/2 Consolation)
2. Iowa - 73. (1 Finalist/5 Consolation)
3. Cornell - 66.5 (2 Finalists/2 Consolation)
4. Edinboro - 64.5 (2 Finalists/2 Consolation)
5. Missouri - 60.0 (1 Finalist/4 Consolation)
6. Penn State - 58.0 (1 Finalist/4 Consolation)

10915562.jpegWrestling for the third time since Feb. 8, Brown and Mike Evans are no strangers to one another. And like the first two meetings between the two, Friday's semifinal tilt was a chess match between two guys who are tough to score against. Coming into the match, neither wrestler had given up a takedown during the tournament. And that did not change after seven minutes of action in the semifinals.

After a scoreless first period, Brown started in the down position to start the second. He popped free for an escape point and a 1-0 lead after two frames. However, rather than start in the down position to begin the third period like he did in the previous two meetings this season, Evans chose the neutral position in the third. Down 1-0, the Iowa senior went on the attack with shot attempt after shot attempt in the latter stages of the match, but Brown was not going to be denied an opportunity to wrestle on the stage Saturday night.

"Just keep wrestling tough. That was one thing. I wanted to go in and wrestle through every position, and I was able to do that," Brown said. "I wasn't able to get the takedown like I wanted. But in the Big Ten finals, I gave up some scrambles. That was something I was trying to work on consciously."

Saturday evening will be Brown's second appearance on the sport's biggest stage. The Utah native dropped a 2-1 overtime decision to No. 1 Chris Perry (Oklahoma State) in the 174-pound final in 2013. Brown has that experience in the back of his mind, and he has learned from it.

"Two years ago was the first time I was here at the NCAA Tournament," said Brown. "I wasn't complacent at all, but I was ecstatic just to be in the finals and I wrestled a really tough match and ended up dropping in overtime in a loss. But I didn't celebrate after my quarters becoming an All-American, because that's not my goal. I'll have a chance to achieve that tomorrow."

Gulibon's semifinal match against Iowa's Cory Clark featured a frenetic pace from start to finish. After a scoreless first, Gulibon got on the board with a reversal early in the second period. Clark scored an escape point and then secured a takedown for a 3-2 lead after two. In the third, Clark's lead grew to 6-2 with an escape and takedown. Gulibon notched an escape and a takedown to make it 6-5, but with riding time, Clark moved into the national semifinals with a 7-5 victory.

The Nittany Lion sophomore has wrestled very well in St. Louis, but came up just shy of finishing a takedown shot when the match was 4-2 in the third. Clark countered for a takedown and a 6-2 lead. The margin for error is incredibly thin when it comes to the national tournament. Nonetheless, Gulibon is very much alive in the race for third.

Joining Gulibon in the consolation semifinals will be McIntosh (197) and Lawson (285). Both McIntosh and Lawson notched two victories on Friday evening to remain alive in the race for third spot at their respective weight classes.

For Lawson, his journey to the starting lineup was by no means easy as a Nittany Lion wrestler, but the New Jersey native is now an All-American and will have the opportunity to wear the Penn State singlet one more time on Saturday.

"It hasn't been easy, but it means a lot to me (to be an All-American)," Lawson said. "Obviously, I wanted to have the chance to wrestle for a title, but being a senior and having the chance to wrestle for third is something I'm really looking forward to."

Session five begins at 11 a.m. ET on ESPNU and The fifth session is the medal round, with consolation action leading up to the third, fifth and seventh place matches.

Breaking Down the Nittany Lions

125: #11 Jordan Conaway (27-8) - 4-2 - Seventh Place Match (All-American)
Up Next: Seventh Place Match vs. No. 7 Eddie Klimara (Oklahoma State)

133: #7 Jimmy Gulibon (25-8) - 3-1 - Consolation Semifinals (All-American)
Up Next: Consolation Semifinal Round vs. No. 9 A.J. Schopp (Edinboro)

149: #12 Zack Beitz (19-11) - 1-2 - Tournament Complete

174: #2 Matt Brown (28-3) - 4-0 - National Final (All-American)
Up Next: Championship Round vs. No. 8 Tyler Wilps (Pitt)

184: #14 Matt McCutcheon (26-14) - 2-2 - Tournament Complete

197: #2 Morgan McIntosh (29-3) - 4-1 - Consolation Semifinals (All-American)
Up Next: Consolation Semifinal Round vs. No. 1 J'Den Cox (Missouri)

285: #8 Jimmy Lawson (18-4) - 3-1 - Consolation Semifinals (All-American)

Up Next: Consolation Semifinal vs. No. 2 Michael McMullan (Northwestern)

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

By Gabby Richards, GoPSUsports Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- The Penn State women's gymnastics team begins its quest for the Big Ten title tomorrow in Ann Arbor, Mich. After a rather successful season under the helm of head coach Jeff Thompson, who came into the Penn State fold just five years ago, the Nittany Lions enter the post-season with only two regular season losses.

The success of this team lies within their dedication and consistency in the practice gym, where coach Thompson tells his gymnasts to "compete how they practice." While many challenge the saying, "practice makes perfect," these gymnasts have dedicated themselves to it.

"These girls have been so successful because they trust each other," Thompson said. "Each and every one of them has stepped up, at some point, this season. We have had girls rotating events and changing lineups and they have adjusted well to that. We are one team."

Event Break Down: Bye-Rounds and B1G Momentum

The Nittany Lions finished second at the Big Five meet last weekend, giving them the momentum they need as they head into the Big Ten Championships. This tournament is different than any other: bye rounds are awarded to various teams throughout the tournament, a major change from the traditional meet. Typically, teams have a set rotation based on whether they are the home or away team at a meet, a routine that the gymnasts adjust too all season.

Penn State has been awarded two bye rounds during the tournament. How the team will handle two bye rounds will come down to their ability to channel their energy and adrenaline, something they have worked on all season.

Bye rounds aside, the Nittany Lions have a rather different rotation than they are used to. They will open on bars, then head over to beam, before making their way to floor, and finishing off on vault.

"We have to focus on sticking our handstands and dismounts on bars," Thompson said. "If we can stick our landings on bars, that momentum will transfer to beam."

The Nittany Lions close out on the two strongest events in their rotation: floor and vault.

"I want our girls to really connect with the audience and the judges when they are performing on floor," Thompson said. "Floor is an event meant for storytelling and if they can do that, they will be successful. Vault has been our event all season and I am confident that we will do what we have done consistently all season."

Thompson's Team

This team is equally as trusting of one another as they are competitive. Coach Thompson, along with his staff, has built an environment, which breeds a team-first mentality. Thompson's gymnasts were able to score a 196.650 on the road, the fifth highest road score in school history.

Where To Watch

You can watch your Nittany Lions on the Big Ten Network. The meet starts Saturday, March 21 at 11:30 a.m. 

2015 NCAA Championships Session III Roundup

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Session I Roundup - Video & Feature | Session II Roundup - Video & Feature

ST. LOUIS - Senior Matt Brown (174) and sophomore Jimmy Gulibon (133) will represent the Nittany Lion wrestling team in the NCAA semifinals on Friday evening inside the Scottrade Center.

Brown and Gulibon earned victories in the quarterfinal round of the national tournament en route to All-American status during the third session of the NCAA Championships. The two wins earned Penn State's 190th and 191st All-America accolades. Head coach Cael Sanderson has now had 28 All-America honors during his six-year tenure as head coach.

The Lions went 2-3 in quarterfinal action on Friday. Matt McCutcheon (184), Morgan McIntosh (197) and Jimmy Lawson (285) will each wrestle in the consolation round of 12 on Friday evening after coming up short in the quarterfinals. Jordan Conaway (125) put together a strong session with two victories in consolation action to punch a ticket into the consolation round of 12, as well.

In all, Penn State will have six wrestlers in action on Friday evening, with two in the semifinals and four in the consolation bracket. Thanks the pair of semifinal berths, Penn State finished the third session with 33.5 total points in the team race. The Nittany Lions are eighth in the standings.

Session III Team Standings (Main Draw/Consolation)
1. Ohio State - 64.5 (5 Main Draw/0 Consolation)
2. Iowa - 47.5 (3 Main Draw/4 Consolation)
3. Missouri - 45.0 (3 Main Draw/ 4 Consolation)
4. Cornell - 41.5 (3 Main Draw/1 Consolation)
5. Edinboro - 40.5 (3 Main Draw/2 Consolation)
6. Nebraska - 36.5 (1 Main Draw/5 Consolation)
7. Oklahoma State - 36.0 (2 Main Draw/4 Consolation)
8. Penn State - 33.5 (2 Main Draw/4 Consolation)    

10912090.jpeg Gulibon kick-started Penn State's morning with a strong effort against Wisconsin's Ryan Taylor. The Nittany Lion sophomore wrestled the second-seeded Taylor at the Big Ten Championships two weeks ago. Taylor used a takedown in sudden victory to beat Gulibon, 7-5.

With that match on his mind, Gulibon knew he needed a quick start in Friday's quarterfinal match. The Latrobe native scored the first takedown of the match and notched two near-fall points for a 4-0 lead after one period. Taylor quickly answered with a pair of takedowns, but Gulibon prepared all week for how he was going to handle adversity. He answered the bell with a strong finish en route to a 9-4 victory and a spot in the NCAA semifinals against third-seeded Cory Clark (Iowa).

"I feel like I have been wrestling pretty well," Gulibon said. "I think the whole team is keeping the momentum going. Watching the other guys go out there and win, it obviously gives me a boost to go out there and wrestle hard. I've just tried to go out there and attack."

Brown became the second Nittany Lion to earn a spot in the semifinals with a hard-fought 2-1 victory against eighth-seeded Zach Epperly (Virginia Tech). Brown took a 1-0 lead with an escape to open the second. He built 1:45 of riding time in the third before Epperly squared the match at 1-1 with an escape. Brown held off Epperly's late takedown attempt in the final seconds to earn a 2-1 with riding time for his second trip to the national semifinals in three years.

The Lion veteran has had a smile on his face throughout the week in St. Louis. Knowing this is his last opportunity to wear a Penn State singlet, Brown is wrestling loose and with confidence at the national tournament. And through three matches, he has been strong on the mat. Brown is yet to give up a takedown this week (one reversal).

All eyes will be on his matchup against Iowa veteran and third-seeded Mike Evans in the semifinals. Brown and Evans are no strangers to one another. The Nittany Lion senior has beaten Evans twice this year by the score of 2-0 (no takedowns from either wrestler in either match). Evans scored a 5-4 tiebreaker victory over Brown in the NCAA quarterfinals last season.

The run through the main draw drew to a close for McCutcheon, McIntosh and Lawson on Friday. McCutcheon fell in sudden victory (7-5) against Ohio State's Kenny Courts. By the narrowest of margins, McIntosh fell just shy of being awarded a takedown in the final seconds of a 3-2 decision against Duke's Conner Hartmann. Lawson dropped an 11-3 major decision to top-seeded and defending national champion Nick Gwiazdowski (North Carolina State).

Session four begins at 8 p.m. ET on ESPNU and The tournament semifinals will take place on the inner two mats of a six-mat setup. Two additional rounds of consolation action will also take place on the outer four mats.

Breaking Down the Nittany Lions

125: #11 Jordan Conaway (26-7) - 3-1 - Consolation Round of 12
Up Next: Consolation Round of 12 vs. David Tarao (American)

133: #7 Jimmy Gulibon (25-7) - 3-0 - Tournament Semifinals (All-American)
Up Next: Semifinal Round vs. No. 3 Cory Clark (Iowa)

149: #12 Zack Beitz (19-11) - 1-2 - Tournament Complete

174: #2 Matt Brown (27-3) - 3-0 - Tournament Semifinals (All-American)
Up Next: Semifinal Round vs. No. 3 Mike Evans (Iowa)

184: #14 Matt McCutcheon (26-13) - 2-1 - Consolation Round of 12
Up Next: Consolation Round of 12 vs. No. 16 Tim Dudley (Nebraska)

197: #2 Morgan McIntosh (27-3) - 2-1 - Consolation Round of 12
Up Next: Consolation Round of 12 vs. No. 13 Shane Woods

285: #8 Jimmy Lawson (17-4) - 2-1 - Consolation Round of 12

Up Next: Consolation Round of 12 vs. No. 11 Devin Mellon

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

By Anita Nham, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After finishing sixth at the NCAA Championships last year, the Penn State men's gymnastics team began its 2015 regular season at No. 6 in the College Gymnastics Association (CGA) Preseason Coaches' Poll. Though the Nittany Lions weren't expected to perform as highly as in previous years, the Blue and White exceeded those predictions with a remarkable season.

"I'm pleased [with this season's results]," said head coach Randy Jepson. "We took a team that was not picked to do that great and we're in the hunt here, so I'm really happy with that."

Penn State excelled early in the season with a season-opener win against Army in Rec Hall. The Nittany Lions' feat continued with a first-place finish at West Point, a win against Michigan in the only double dual of the season, a win against Ohio State and a win against Iowa on the annual Senior Night.

In addition to having a perfect home record this season, the men's gymnastics team posted two new school records. The Nittany Lions earned a score of 75.950 on parallel bars in the meet against Michigan and they also broke the record on floor exercise with a score of 75.800 in the meet versus Ohio State.

"We've been pretty constant with our work," said junior Alexis Torres. "We have done better in the past competitions, like in the beginning [of the season], but we still keep it together as a team in our performance."

The blue and white finished off its regular season with two second-place finishes - one at the Puerto Rico Gymnastics Challenge and one against Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska at Iowa last weekend.

"We thought we'd be kind of right where we are," said coach Jepson. "We've leveled off and kind of plateaued here at the end of the season, but we haven't had everybody together at the end of the season yet either, so I think our best meets are in front of us, which is great. That's where you want to be at the post season."

With so many accomplishments, it's hard for coach Jepson to pick his favorite.

"There's a lot of great moments," said coach Jepson. "To single any one out is really tough, but I look at each guy and I see moments that have just been outstanding and that's one of the joys is of being a coach - just seeing guys rise to the occasion and do great things."

Aside from the team's accolades, numerous gymnasts shined individually this season.

Senior Craig Hernandez is one of the six finalists for the Nissen-Emery Award, an annual honor given to the most outstanding senior student-athlete in collegiate gymnastics. After the meet against Michigan earlier in the season, Hernandez was named the Big Ten Co-Gymnast of the Week after capturing the school record in the pommel horse with a near perfect score of 15.950.

Hernandez and junior Trevor Howard participated in the 2015 Winter Cup Challenge in Las Vegas and Hernandez was able to finish 12th on the pommel horse with a combined score of 28.850.

Junior Alexis Torres also had a triumphant season by notching three Big Ten Gymnast of the Week honors. In addition, Torres was named the CGA Gymnast of the Week following the 440.800-435.700 win over the Hawkeyes on Senior Night where Torres tallied five top-three finishes to post the top all-around score of the night.

"I mean, I don't win anything, but it does tell me something," said Torres. "It tells me that I've been performing pretty well and that kind of motivates me even more, but still, in my own mind, I think that I can do even better. It's like a reminder to just keep going."

When the men's gymnastics team headed to Puerto Rico for the Puerto Rican Challenge, Torres traveled to Arlington, Texas instead to compete with Puerto Rico in the 2015 AT&T American Cup. The AT&T American Cup is the USA's most prestigious international invitational.

"It was amazing," said Torres. "It was kind of boring because I was alone, but [it was great] to socialize with other gymnasts. They're really great gymnasts. They're like world champions, world medalists. Just being on that stage was an honor and to say that I was competing with the best in the world, I just felt amazing."

The upperclassmen weren't the only ones to succeed as freshmen Thad Lawson captured the Big Ten Freshman of the Week honor three times this season. Lawson has won four individual floor exercise titles this season, too.

The men's gymnastics team has had its ups and downs during the regular season, but they wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

"[I wouldn't have changed anything] this season," said Torres. "We have been working pretty well and we have been mostly healthy. Minor injuries, but we come back really fast and we've maintained the most important concept, which is being healthy."