Recently in Men's Gymnastics Category
By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
PARK, Pa- Even after taking college gymnastics by storm all season, Penn State
freshman Trevor Howard managed to save his best performance for last.
in the NCAA Championships for the first time, Howard put on a dazzling display during
the floor exercise to earn a score of 15.800 and claim the individual national
championship on the event.
before I began I said my prayers and was just hoping to rock it," said Howard.
"When I stuck my first landing, I felt great and then I just carried [the
momentum] on through the routine stick by stick."
performance, which topped Howard's previous best of 15.400, gave the Nittany
Lions their first national champion on floor exercise since 1963.
coach Randy Jepson, who joked that he was only three years old the last time
Penn State had a national champion in the event, was thrilled to see Howard win
finally get another national champion on floor [exercise] is outstanding and
I'm absolutely thrilled for him," said Jepson. "Having to come out in the NCAA
finals as a freshman is a lot of pressure and he crushed [his routine]."
a season in which he was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week a conference record
eight times, Howard entered the weekend knowing he could hold his own with the
country's best gymnasts.
the Columbus, Ohio native said he didn't necessarily expect to finish first in
an event after he was forced to miss several weeks in the middle of the season
because of a concussion.
pushed myself after my injury to make sure I was where I wanted to be at the
end of the year," said Howard. "Coming out as a national champion when there
are guys out there who hit equally difficult routines is just crazy."
a day after the Nittany Lions finished in fourth place in the team finals,
Howard stated that he was extra motivated to perform at his highest level
to his fuel was the fact that four members from the national champion Michigan Wolverines
had also qualified in the event.
I was looking to get back at those Wolverines [for winning the NCAA team
championship]," said Howard. "It felt great and I feel a lot better [on Sunday]
than I did on [Saturday] night."
the Penn State fans in the crowd at full throat, Howard had plenty of energy
and excitement behind him as he took the mat.
excitement only increased after Howard's score was announced, which sent the
Nittany Lion faithful into a frenzy.
was great to be in Rec Hall with such a great crowd," said Howard. "There's no
feeling like it and I can't explain it."
reaction from the fans was rivaled only by Howard's teammates, who took turns
mobbing him in celebration after his routine was finished.
he may have been the Nittany Lions biggest star of the afternoon, the freshman
made sure that his teammates also received their fair share of credit.
was awesome to see so many guys from Penn State come through on multiple
events," said Howard. "To see Parker (Raque), Adrian (Evans), and everyone else
was just awesome."
Howard, the most memorable moment of the afternoon was having the opportunity
to stand on the top of the podium in front of his own school's fans after being
named national champion.
Penn State's fight song was played over the loudspeakers, the freshman took a
moment to let it all sink in.
definitely took a picture of it in my head," said Howard. "Having the banner
raised behind me and being on top was an incredible experience."
who nearly broke into a sprint to congratulate Howard after his routine, didn't
hesitate to declare the new All-American as one of the most impressive freshman
to come through the program in his time as head coach.
also qualified for the individual finals on the parallel bars and the vault,
Jepson stated that he sees an extremely bright future ahead of Howard.
had some great freshman over the years but there's no question that he ranks
amongst [the best]," said Jepson. "He's competition savvy and he's clearly demonstrated
that he has an innate ability to perform on the biggest stages."
By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Six Nittany Lions walked out in front of a crowded
Rec Hall one last time as they competed in the fourth and final session of the
2013 NCAA Championships to close out another exciting season.
After missing a few routines Saturday night in the team finals, those who
placed among the top 10 qualified for event finals on Sunday afternoon and were
determined to hit their routines. They took head coach Randy Jepson's advice as
he told them that two things should come out of Saturday night.
"As I gathered the guys I told them this, I said, 'You're not going to get
everything you want in life and with disappointment should come two things. It
should [give you] wisdom from what you learn from the experience. Number two
that should come is determination about how you're going to do better and what
you're going to make of it'," Jepson said.
The athletes did just that. They stuck together and supported each other to
make the best out of their final opportunity to compete on the national stage
in individual event finals.
Scott Rosenthal opened up the afternoon with his best performance of the year
on the still rings. Years of hard work and overcoming adversity came down to one moment for the senior as he saw his
last opportunity to compete as a Nittany Lion. Achieving All-American status, he
stuck the landing on still rings and finished in third place with a score of
"I was really thrilled for Scott," Jepson said. "He has a torn ligament in
his shoulder. He rested for two months and didn't do anything, which is unheard
of in rings because you have to maintain strength day by day. To have him come
back and go three days in a row with his best routine of his short season
coming on the last day is just remarkable."
Following Rosenthal was Adrian Evans on the pommel horse who stepped up and
placed fifth with a score of 14.675. He earned his second straight All-American
status on the apparatus.
With momentum starting to build for the Nittany Lions, Parker Raque wasn't
going to slow it down. Adding to his previous All-American performances on the
floor exercise and the vault, the senior added the still rings to the list by
finishing sixth with a score of 15.075.
"[Today] was memorable," Raque said. "I was really glad for the opportunity and
couldn't be more happy to have that one last routine to finish on. I had a
personal goal to be an All-American on rings. I just went out there today and
was able to achieve that goal, so I'll take that as a success."
Immediately after Raque nailed one last routine, Trevor Howard soaked in
the energy from the crowd as he stepped up to compete on the floor exercise. Using
the first two days of competition to get all of the nervous energy out, the
freshman stuck each pass and won his first NCAA individual event title with a
score of 15.800.
"When I was kneeling, I was just saying my prayers hoping to rock it out,"
Howard said. "When I stuck that first pass, it was a great feeling. I just carried [the momentum] on throughout the routine
stick after stick."
After Howard saluted the judges, he knew he had one of the best
performances of his career. But what he didn't know was that he was the first
gymnast since 1963 to win a title on the floor exercise for Penn State.
"I didn't know about it until after someone told me it had been 50 years
and it's crazy that it marks 50 years exactly today," Howard said. "There's no
feeling like it. I can't explain it - it's just awesome."
However, Jepson was well aware of what Howard had just accomplished.
"I was three the last time we had a national champion on floor so to
finally get another one was absolutely outstanding," Jepson said. "To have [Howard]
come out in the NCAA final, as a freshman, on his home floor, with everything
there to take; that's a lot of pressure for a freshman. I knew he had that in
him and he showed it today. I'm really proud of him."
After Howard received his award and he stood on the top of the podium, his
day wasn't over just yet. He finished ninth on the vault (15.025) and the parallel
bars (14.175) to end an outstanding start to his collegiate career.
The excitement continued as senior Felix Aronovich received All-American
status on the high bar as he finished in fifth place with a score of 14.725. The
final competitor for the afternoon for Penn State was sophomore Matthew
Felleman who earned his first career All-American status finishing in fourth
with a score of 14.850, also on the high bar.
Ending the 2013 NCAA Championships and Jepson's 22nd season as head coach, the
Nittany Lions closed out another exciting year. With all six of the gymnasts
earning All-American honors on the final day, Penn State has a lot to be proud
By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa- Standing on the podium at the NCAA Championships after
securing the third All-American nod of his decorated career, Penn State senior
gymnast Felix Aronovich took a moment to let it all sink in.
Competing as the Nittany Lions lone competitor in the all-around competition, Aronovich
used impressive scores in all six events to finish in fourth place with a total
score of 86.900.
Despite Penn State finishing in fourth place in the team standings, Aronovich
tried to remain positive, even with his final team meet with the Nittany Lions
having just ended.
"I didn't want to think about it as my last meet here," said Aronovich. "If you
think about it too much it gets you down but I'm just happy that I had a good
Although a top five finish would be a cause for celebration for many, Aronovich
maintained that his thoughts were strictly with his teammates.
"It's good to have personal success but it's not the same as being able to
celebrate with your team," said Aronovich.
"I feel bad for my teammates but we know we gave it our all."
With six events to concentrate on and with the added pressure of competing in
his final meet, the Kiryat Bialik, Israel native had plenty on his mind heading
into the night.
Even with so much to think about, Aronovich said he felt very few nerves during
the course of the meet.
"Every event tonight I treated like a new meet," said Aronovich. "I didn't
really feel nervous because as soon as each event ended I just started focusing
on the next one."
Aronovich was impressive on both the parallel bars and the still rings,
tallying a score of 14.700 in both events, as well as the high bar, where he
finished with a 14.600.
Above any particular performance, the Olympian stated that what he will
remember most about the night is having the opportunity to compete and succeed
against the nation's top collegiate gymnasts.
really nice to be able to compete against some of the best gymnasts in the
world," said Aronovich. "It's something that I'll remember in 50 years when I'm
Aronovich landed his vault to finish his competition for the night, the Penn
State fans in attendance saluted the senior with a huge standing ovation.
While Rec Hall may have been host to fans from many different schools for the
second straight night, the building was full of Nittany Lion pride when
Aronovich stopped to take a bow for the Penn State faithful.
For Aronovich, having so many fans in attendance, including his father who
traveled from Israel, meant more to him than he could put into words.
"I am so grateful to our fans because so many of them traveled so far to be
here," said Aronovich. "I felt bad that we weren't able to win for them so I
wanted to thank them for coming."
Along with thanking the fans, Aronovich took a moment after the vault to
embrace each one of his coaches, especially head coach Randy Jepson
With four years of competing for Jepson complete, the All-American wanted to
make sure his coach realized how big of an impact he had on him.
"I told [Coach Jepson] that I gave it all that I had and that I tried as hard
as I could for him," said Aronovich. "It was a bittersweet moment and I came
very close to crying."
Afterwards, it was clear that Jepson could not have been prouder of what
Aronovich accomplished, not just during the night but during his entire career
Having watched him grow from an inexperienced freshman to an Olympian and a
team leader, Jepson admitted that it will be tough for him to picture his
lineup without Aronovich in it.
"He fought like a warrior and he gave us his heart and soul," said Jepson.
"He's been our anchor and those are going to be very big shoes for us to fill."
Though Aronovich may have been disappointed to have not finished his career
with a team national championship, he couldn't have been prouder of what he and
his teammates achieved this season.
"We had a great bunch of guys and a wonderful season," said Aronovich. "I'm
very proud of those guys and its tough to see it end."
By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - In front
of a packed Rec Hall, the Penn State men's gymnastics team soaked in the
atmosphere and opportunity to compete in the finals of the NCAA Championships on
With energetic fans from all across the country helping to create a unique atmosphere
for the athletes, Craig Hernandez has become a leader for the Nittany Lions
nearly every time he steps up to compete.
Hearing the crowd chant "P-S-U" and the "We Are" cheer kept the morale up for
the team and got him ready to perform.
"It's great and it makes me excited," Hernandez said. "It makes me want to
go out and compete and do my best. I want to give them a reason to cheer more."
After qualifying for team finals in the second session of competition on Friday
night, the men finished in fourth place. The schedule for the Nittany Lions
followed the same rotations as the night before; starting on the parallel bars
and ending on the vault.
Watching Trevor Howard compete, it would be hard to guess that this was his
first season as a Nittany Lion. The freshman posted the team's top scores on the
parallel bars, floor exercise, and vault, while finishing in the top three on
the still rings. He was also one of the few athletes to score 15.00 or better,
doing so on three of his four routines.
Howard was lucky enough to have his first NCAA appearance in a gym he was
familiar with and in front of a large fan base to help calm pre-meet nerves.
"It was fun and good to have it at home," Howard said. "We had more of the
crowd advantage and that really helped out with the nerves. I was just going in
there with the mentality of getting amped up and thinking my positions out. I
knew I had to go up strong and that my team needed me. I just wanted to do what
I had been doing all season."
Handling the pressures of a national level meet is a challenging task no
matter how much experience the athlete has behind them. Howard couldn't have
accomplished what he did as a freshman if it wasn't for the leadership
exhibited by the upperclassmen.
"We've had great leaders and they showed us throughout the year that
anything is possible on any given day," Howard said. "They said this [night]
was our [night] and we could do it since we worked [so hard]. They've been
positive influences in and outside of the gym and have been great leaders for
Of those leaders were senior captain Parker Raque and senior Scott
Rosenthal who both qualified for Sunday's event finals on the still rings.
Raque finished in fourth place on the event with a 15.450 while improving his
score by three-tenths of a point from Friday night. Rosenthal tied for eighth
place, helping Penn State wrap up a stellar performances on the still rings.
Before Rosenthal was up to compete, he watched Nihir Kothari nail his
second routine of the season, while Raque and Howard followed-up with some of
their top scores of the season. Rosenthal balanced cheering for his teammates
with staying focused and in the right mind-set for when it was his chance to
"I was really getting into it watching the other guys," Rosenthal said.
"I'm always torn between cheering for the guys in the event and getting into my
own mentality. I get so excited but I also have to remember that I've got to do
these skills this way and breathe here and there."
Knowing he had goals that he wanted to reach and that there would be
pressure to perform at his best, Rosenthal never lost sight of the reason he
was representing Penn State.
"The biggest thing for me is that from the moment I walk out in front the
crowd to when I finish, I make sure I have some fun," Rosenthal said. "I hit my
goal. I did the best routine I could possibly do and the best routine I've done
for the guys all season. I really enjoyed the opportunity to go out there and
support my team and show what I could do for them."
In addition to the team finals, senior Felix Aronovich competed to a fourth
place finish in the all-around competition and received his third All-America
status. He posted a score of 86.900 and
will perform on the high bar Sunday afternoon in the individual event finals.
Adrian Evans (pommel horse), Mathew Felleman (high bar), Raque (still
rings), Rosenthal (still rings), and Howard (floor exercise, parallel bars, and
vault), will join Aronovich in the individual event finals.
The six Nittany Lions are set to compete at 2 p.m inside Rec Hall and finish on
a high note in the final session of the 2013 NCAA Championship.
By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
PARK, Pa- For Penn State gymnast Nihir Kothari, the scene almost didn't seem
Just over six months after tears to both his ACL and menisci had seemingly
ended the senior's season before it the started, the former All-American found
himself in front of the bright lights of the NCAA Championships.
"I really haven't felt that nervous in a long time," said Kothari. "Then as
soon as I started I felt the atmosphere of Rec Hall take over and I felt like I
Making his season debut on the biggest stage possible, and three months before
he was expected to fully healed, Kothari not only competed but also pulled off
an impressive rings dismount to earn a respectable score of 14.750.
While there may have been other Nittany Lions who scored higher on the
apparatus, there was no doubt that Kothari's performance was the highlight of a
night that ended with the Nittany Lions claiming the top score of session two with
"I am so happy for [Nihir]," said head coach Randy Jepson. "He put his heart
and soul into this program and he was heroic tonight."
Making the performance even more heroic was the fact that it came on the same
routine that the Malvern, Pa native was performing when he injured himself in
October of 2012.
"(Dismounting) was the biggest fear that I had but you have to live with what
you worked for," said Kothari. "I did enough rehab to put myself in the mindset
where I could treat it like practice and hit the sets."
Any lingering doubt that was still in Kothari's mind was erased by his
teammates just prior to his routine.
As the fifth year senior waited to begin, his fellow Nittany Lions could be
heard throughout Rec Hall chanting "How strong, so strong."
"That's an old chant that we generally save for the strongest guys," said
Kothari. "During the routine everything washed away and I couldn't hear much
but I could feel the presence of my teammates."
The routine may have been Kothari's first true performance of the season, but
as soon as he took hold of the rings, it was almost as if he had never been out
of action in the first place.
"As soon as I started it felt as if I had never stopped competing," said
Kothari. "I felt this great sense of pride and Nittany Lion spirit.
That spirit was shared by the many Penn State fans that came out to support the
squad on their quest to win their 13th National Championship.
Rec Hall may have held a partisan crowd with six teams competing in the evening
qualifying session, but when Kothari stuck his landing, the Nittany Lion
faithful made it feel just like a regular season home meet.
"To see all these people behind me is something that you can't put into words,"
said Kothari. "It's incredible and I have nothing but praise for our fans and
for Rec Hall in general."
Along with his teammates and their fans, Kothari didn't hesitate to praise
Jepson, not only for his guidance, but also for giving him the opportunity to
compete at the National Championships after missing the entire regular season.
It is customary for Jepson to shake the hands of his gymnasts after they
complete a routine, but after Kothari successfully landed his dismount, his
coach made sure they embraced and Kothari enjoyed his moment.
"He just said that he was really proud of me," said Kothari. "All I said back
was that I couldn't thank him enough for giving me the chance and how
appreciative I am of all the support he gave me during the entire process."
Going into the night, Kothari believed that his rings routine would be the last
performance of his career, a mere chance for him to give some of his other
teammates some rest heading into the team finals on Saturday.
However, an injury to freshman Alexis Torres might enable Kothari to compete on
the rings once again tomorrow, when he will try to help the Nittany Lions
finish their season with a national title.
"I'm ecstatic and I'm going to give it everything I've got, just like I did
tonight," said Kothari. "We really have something to push for tomorrow and we
really have to give it our all."
By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With eight months of training behind them, the
Nittany Lions came ready to compete against the best athletes in the country on
Friday night in Rec Hall as they host the 2013 NCAA championships.
Penn State came away as the top finisher in the second session with an
overall team average score of 436.90 and will advance to finals tomorrow night
where a national champion team will be named. However, they will go into
Saturday night just behind Michigan who finished the first session with an
average of 443.850.
Finishing with the top overall team average score on four out of the six
events, the Nittany Lions improved on still rings (75.20), parallel bars (72.80),
and high bar (72.45), but went down slightly from their previous average on the
pommel horse (72.30). In this session, Stanford had top team scores on Floor
(74.10) and Vault (73.60).
Reaching their first goal for this weekend, head coach Randy Jepson is content
with the results of their first appearance in the 2013 NCAA competition.
"We're pleased to be able to advance," Jepson said. "That was the goal
of today. We have another day and so we will recover and come to battle
With energy high for the Nittany Lions, their first rotation started
with the parallel bars where senior Felix Aronovich had the highest score of
the session. His score of 15.05 was the only score above 15.00 for the night.
He used the cheering from the crowd to help him compete.
"It's fun, they're a really good crowd," Aronovich said. "They bring a
lot of warm atmosphere making it unique and just awesome."
The momentum continued as the Nittany Lions headed to the high bar and
took the top team average of 72.45, which was 0.50 above Michigan. Wasef Burbar
has been a top scorer all season in this event and didn't let the pressure of
NCAAs stop him as he led the team with a score of 15.20.
On their third rotation, freshman Trevor Howard was the highest
performer for the Nittany Lions with Craig Hernandez close behind him. After
the floor event, Jepson took Alexis Torres out of the line-up for the still
"[Torres] was dizzy after floor so we took him out and wanted to make
sure he was okay," Jepson said.
Fortunately this team has depth giving Nihir Kothari his first
opportunity to compete this season. He's coming off of a torn ACL injury that
happened in October. Despite not competing all year and taking into
consideration that two weeks ago was the first time he practiced dismounts,
Kothari proved he was a determined competitor that wasn't going to give up. He
finished in the mix of top gymnast's on the still rings.
"I'm really proud of Nihir Kothari," Jepson said. "We told him to
prepare like your going to compete. Those are the kind of kids who have made up
the program over the past couple of years and pour their heart and soul into
it. I was happy he was able to help push
the team over the top."
With a year of experience behind him, Hernandez started his second NCAA
Championships on a high note. After floor, Penn State had a bye giving
Hernandez extra time before he took to the pommel horse.
His mentality before hand led him to another outstanding performance
for the Nittany Lions where he finished with a 15.40 to contribute to their
average team score of 72.30, finishing 1.5 points above all of the other teams.
"I just thought about hitting it like I know I can," Hernandez said.
"I've been doing it in practice for a long time and I go out there and compete
trying to do the best that I can do. That's all I did today."
Finishing the night on the vault, the Nittany Lions didn't let their
momentum slow down as they pulled away from Stanford during their last
rotation. The fans kept Rec Hall alive with cheers as they learned Penn State
would advance as the top team from the second session.
"[The atmosphere] was great. They were really responsive and I'm looking
forward to tomorrow night," Jepson said. "Anything can happen so hopefully we're
prepared to go."
Even though Michigan finished Friday night with a slight lead going
into the team finals, Jepson is only focused on his team.
"That was today and tomorrow is new life so anything can happen,"
Jepson said. "We have to be prepared to go no matter what. You have to focus on
yourself and can't worry about where everyone else is. We want to do the best
we possibly can. If that's enough - great, if not we've done as much as we
Closing out another strong season, the Nittany Lions will enter Rec
Hall on Saturday night hoping to win their first national title since 2007 and
their 13th title in school history. Competition to find out who will
be the 2013 NCAA championship team begins at 7
Howard, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - When watching
Scott Rosenthal compete on the still rings, coaches, gymnasts, and fans alike
can all note his incredible strength and determination. But what most don't
know is growing up in Clearfield, Pa. the senior never had the finest training
Instead of letting that stop him from fulfilling his goals and
reaching his dreams of starting a collegiate career, his family took a new approach
that not many gymnasts can relate to.
His father built a set of rings in their garage to allow Rosenthal to get in as
much practice time as possible to replace any time lost while commuting to a
gym an hour away.
"My parents have always been really supportive," Rosenthal said. "Having
the rings in my garage never let me miss a day of training. I originally
started in Philipsburg, which is a half hour away from where I lived ...then when
I was 12 years old I started getting more serious about gymnastics and went an
hour away to Altoona. That's two hours out of their day."
Rosenthal's parents continued to show their dedication and support
during the summer months when they would send him off to gymnastics camps to
ensure he was training at the highest level possible for his age.
"I wouldn't see them much during the summer because I was at these
camps, but they made every effort they could to come down to see me," Rosenthal
said. "They have been fully behind me the whole way."
It was at one of these camps when Rosenthal first met head coach
Randy Jepson and had the opportunity to talk about competing for the men's
gymnastics team at Penn State.
"It was interesting because I was coaching here and my assistant [coach]
happened to be at the camp," Jepson said. "He told me that there was this
really strong kid who was there and I needed to see him so I got in my car and
drove down to the camp."
When Jepson got there, he immediately saw how strong Rosenthal
really was and already knew he would be a good fit for Penn State academically
as he was valedictorian of his high school class.
"When he was done working out I asked him what his plans were [for
college] and he said he would like to go to Penn State if he could." Jepson recalled.
"I said 'well I can make that happen and it's done. You can be on our team if
Making the transition from club gymnastics to the college level
allowed Rosenthal to advance his training to an elite level.
Rather than spending an hour getting to practice and training alone in his
garage, he can now train after a short walk across campus with some of the top
equipment in the country.
"To go from equipment that was made in the 60's and practicing in my
garage to brand new models of equipment was crazy," Rosenthal said. "Everything
was so much nicer and more forgiving. To jump into an atmosphere with all of
the equipment you could possibly need with some of the best coaches in the nation
really just accelerated my training."
Before Rosenthal had time to consider the equipment and other
resources available as factors in representing Penn State, he watched as the
2007 Nittany Lions captured a national title inside Rec Hall.
That's when he put carrying on the traditions of
men's gymnastics in University Park at the top of his list of goals.
"I grew up an hour away so before I decided to come here, I went to
a lot of the home meets," Rosenthal said. "In 2007 the NCAA's were [at Penn
State] and I went to all three days of that. It was awesome to be in that
atmosphere and watch the team win. That was the defining moment when I decided
I wanted to be on Penn State's gymnastic team."
Rosenthal excelled his freshman and sophomore years as he proved to
be one of the best still ring competitors out there. Reaching this status
started with the strength he built starting in his makeshift garage gym and
continued into the White Building training facility.
"His biggest asset is he's the strongest kid you've ever seen and
you need that when you're on the rings," Jepson said. "Scott had committed
himself to do whatever it was going to take to get to be as good as he could
be. By the end of his sophomore year he was one of the best ring performers in
the country and knocking on the door to being one of the best in the world."
Unfortunately, at the end of last summer, Rosenthal suffered a
shoulder injury that would put him out for at least three months and limited
the training he was capable of doing throughout most
of the season.
"[An injury] really tough when you're a worker - and Scott is a
worker." Jepson said. "He is used to taking turns and making things happen but
with his injury he couldn't train. We've bided our time with that and he will hopefully be at his best at the end of this
Hoping to recreate that ecstatic environment he witnessed the last
time Penn State hosted the NCAA Championships and to reclaim the national title
for the first time since 2007, Rosenthal can't wait to be a part of the host
team for the 2013 National Championships.
"To be on the team now and on the other side actually competing on
the floor is very exciting," Rosenthal said. "It's everything I ever dreamed
about as a kid watching from the stands."
By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
PARK, Pa- Gymnastics may be considered a sport for individuals, but ask Penn
State head coach Randy Jepson what has fueled his team this season and he'll tell
you it's their team first attitude.
the course of not just the 2013 season, but also the last four years, few have
embodied that spirit quite like seniors Tony Beck and Mackenzie Dow have.
all about getting it done for the team and they're not willing to take a
backseat to anybody," said Jepson. "You need that kind of hunger on your team
and they both have that."
and Dow, putting the team first has meant doing whatever has been asked of them
whether that has meant filling in spots or letting others step in to give the
Nittany Lions their best chance to win.
the most versatile gymnasts on the squad, Dow's ability to compete on pommel
horse, parallel bars, and high bar has turned him into one of Jepson's most
always been more team oriented because I knew that we could accomplish more as
a team than I could as an individual," said Dow. "I try to do as many events as
I can so that I can lead by example."
biggest aspect of Dow's leadership is his extremely strong work ethic that
often has him being one of the first men in the gym and one of the last to
is not only a hard worker but a guy with a lot of passion for the team," said
Beck. "He's a guy we can always count on to be consistent and get the job
another gymnast who has been lauded by coaches and teammates alike for his
dedication, as well as his willingness to put his teammates above himself.
the most consistent performers in the Penn State high bar lineup, Beck has seen
less time on his other events, such as the pommel horse, since an NCAA rule
change has limited each team to only five performers on each event.
having less mat time, Beck has not let his attitude change and has remained one
of the Nittany Lions strongest leaders.
like to do more events but it's all about the team and you just have to do what
you can to help," said Beck. "I've been pretty consistent on high bar and
that's my major contribution."
their final season drawing to a close, the pair of seniors stated that any
personal goals they could have are the last thing on their minds. At this
point, all that matters to them is that the Nittany Lions cap off a year that
started with an undefeated regular season by capturing a national title.
matter whether or not I'm an All-American, said Beck. "I just want to do my job
to help this team win a title. College gymnastics is about the team race and
that is my main focus."
shared desire to put the team over themselves is not the only thing that Beck
and Dow have in common.
to Dow, the two share a similar attitude and a desire to push each other to
reach their potential.
and I are a lot alike in the way we grind through stuff," said Dow. "We're both
pretty stubborn and we're always pushing each other on high bar and pommel
does Jepson love the work ethic that the two seniors bring to the team, he
appreciates the humility that the pair has shown.
they say they're about the team they really mean it and they want to do their
best for each other," said Jepson. "They're both tough competitors and I can
always count on them to gut out a big routine."
their final chance at a national championship nearly upon them, Beck and Dow
have taken the time to reflect on the camaraderie they have established with
their fellow seniors, and how much they will miss it once the season is over.
guys have been like my brothers," said Beck. "I know I can always count on
these guys and it's going to be sad to leave them."
By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
PARK, Pa- The Penn State men's gymnastics team may have finished the regular
season with a record of 13-0, but if you ask them, their record is 0-0.
because right now, only one meet matters to head coach Randy Jepson's crew, and
that is the Big Ten Championships, which take place this weekend in Minneapolis.
way we look at it our season starts now," said senior Matt Chelberg. "Most
people don't remember who won which dual meet but they will remember who won a
Nittany Lions will be extra motivated when they take the mat this weekend, as
they don't want their first loss of the season to come with a conference title
on the line.
win would be extremely meaningful for Chelberg and his six senior teammates,
who have yet to capture a Big Ten Championship during their time at Penn State.
seniors on this team have yet to win a (Big Ten) championship, so this means a
lot to us," said Chelberg. "All of us had choices of where we could have gone
to school and we chose to come here because we wanted to win for this university."
While the weekend will be the final opportunity for a conference championship
for seniors like Chelberg, some of the Nittany Lions, including sophomore Matt
Felleman, will be making their Big Ten Championship debut.
year I was injured so I'm really excited to be able to help the team out this year,"
said Felleman. "There's going to be a lot of energy but I think I'm ready for
a regular season of dual meets, the squad is looking forward to the excitement
and the buzz that take place at a conference championship meet.
key, according to Chelberg, is to not let the excitement lead to pressure, which
can become overwhelming.
nothing quite like Big Tens and it can get pretty intense," said Chelberg.
"There's cameras in your face and the fans get really into it, you just have to
keep your focus and keep plugging away."
the competition just a day away, the biggest advice Jepson has given his
gymnasts is to not change what they've been doing all year.
this point in the season, all the Nittany Lions can do is go out and give their
best effort without trying to do too much.
nothing more they can do to get any better at this point," said Jepson. "Trying
to change things will only make us beat ourselves but I'm confident that we're
a very good team and we just have to carry that confidence into the weekend."
it is undeniable that the Nittany Lions are a very good team, they know that
they will be facing a number of capable squads in Minneapolis.
all seven Big Ten schools ranked in the top-10 nationally, the weekend will be
somewhat of a national championship preview for Penn State.
win here would certainly give us a lot of confidence going into nationals,"
said Jepson. "There's a lot of pride at stake [at the Big Ten Championships], but
no matter what happens we'll have to face them again at the NCAA Championships."
beaten a number of the teams, including Ohio State, Illinois, Michigan, and
Minnesota, already this season, the Nittany Lions will have plenty of
confidence going into the weekend.
also will have a sense of familiarity, as their last dual meet took place at
Minnesota two weeks ago.
at the same hotel and having the same drive to the gym will give us some
familiarity," said Chelberg. "We'll see how big of a part it plays but every
little thing helps."
the Nittany Lions plan on taking the mat on Friday with the goal to once again
show the country why they're the top-ranked team in the nation.
the seniors, there is no other way they'd rather go out than on top at their
final Big Ten Championship.
is the last year for a lot of us," said Chelberg. "We're really focused and
ready to top off a great career."
By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - When Parker Raque and Felix Aronovich came to Penn
State in the fall of 2009, the two freshmen gymnasts realized that while they came
from different backgrounds, they both shared the drive to reach their fullest
Four years later, Raque, who grew up in Louisville, Ky., and Aronovich, who
hails from Kiryat Bialik, Israel, have solidified themselves as the backbone of
a strong senior class that has led the Nittany Lions to their first undefeated
regular season since 2003.
"When we recruited them we knew they had talent and we hoped that they would
develop the way that they have,' said head coach Randy Jepson. "I'm pleased
that they've enjoyed their time here and that they did develop just like we
Raque, who's earned All-American honors on both the floor exercise and vault in
his career, was voted team captain by his teammates while Aronovich, who earned
All-American nods as a junior in both the all-around and the parallel bars,
represented his home country of Israel in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
Although neither of them could have predicted the success that they have
enjoyed, both felt as though they had the talent and potential to reach the
levels that they have.
"When I came here I knew I had to be more refined but I knew I had potential,"
said Raque. "I made a lot of progress my freshman year and that led to being an
All-American as a sophomore."
For Aronovich, success at an American university had been something he thought
he could achieve, though he admitted the goal of being an Olympian was not
something he ever thought was possible until it actually happened.
"I definitely never thought I'd ever reach [the Olympic] level," said
Aronovich. "It kind of surprised me, but it's something that I've accepted and
I'm glad to have done it."
His teammates are eager to compete with him as well, as being in the gym with
an Olympic athlete gives them constant motivation to improve themselves.
Even after being teammates with him for four years, Raque admitted that he
still gets thrilled just watching Aronovich compete.
"He's just an incredible performer," said Raque. "No matter how difficult the
routine is you can count on him to go out there and get it done."
The thrill of watching Aronovich perform still exists for not only the
Olympian's teammates, but his coaching staff as well.
After watching him grow from a raw, talented gymnast, to one of the team's best
all around athletes, Jepson stated that the unique thing about Aronovich is the
way he is able to make his routines look effortless while still exhibiting an
incredibly strong work ethic.
"He's a very artistic gymnast who moves very fluidly and does beautiful gymnastics,"
said Jepson. "But more importantly he's an uncompromising hard worker who
understands how to maximize his strengths."
Something that has helped Aronovich over the course of his career is having the
opportunity to work with a gymnast that exhibits the determination and
leadership qualities that Raque does.
Since Aronovich routinely competes in the all-around competition, having
another multi-skilled gymnast who can push him both as a competitor and a
leader has really impacted his career.
"Having a guy like Parker who is always one of the last guys in the gym with me
is really important," said Aronovich. "He helps me get through all six of my
events and it's really helpful."
Raque was named team captain in the offseason after his teammates selected him
for the honor, but that does not mean that his coach wasn't fully behind the
"Parker is very steady and very organized," said Jepson. "He's been a great
example of how having a great work ethic translates to great results."
At this point in the season, both Raque and Aronovich are having difficulty
accepting that the journey they began four years ago will soon be at an end.
Despite the nostalgia, they are not ready to stop working, as they know
anything less than a national championship will be a disappointment.
"I told the team at the beginning of the year, all that matters is that we can
win at the end of the season," said Raque. "That goal has not changed and we're
striving for it every day."
No matter how this season does end for the Nittany Lions, it is obvious they
will miss having the pair of Raque and Aronovich around in the future.
"They've really set the bar high both athletically and academically," said
Jepson. "They've both done a great job with how they've conducted themselves,
but they're not done yet."