By Samantha DelRosso, GoPSUSports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- About four years ago, Néstor Rodriguez left his home in Puerto Rico to begin his career as a Penn State gymnast. In the next two years after that, Puerto Rico natives-Ismael Sanabria and Alexis Torres joined him. Rodriguez, Sanabria and Torres grew up together, practicing their gymnastics in the same gym. Years later, they still continue to practice together in the same gym as Penn State gymnasts.
"[Having Sanabria and Torres on the team is] amazing. It's like two of my little brothers came here with me," Rodriguez said. "I've known them since we were really little. And for them to be here with me, to motivate each other, is just great."
This weekend, the No. 5 Penn State men's gymnastics team is traveling to Puerto Rico to compete against the team that taught Rodriguez, Sanabria and Torres everything they know about gymnastics - the Puerto Rican National Team.
The gymnasts on the Puerto Rican National Team were all teammates of Rodriguez, Torres and Sanabria and they are looking forward to seeing old friends.
"They're all my teammates. I know all of them, so it should be fun for them and fun for us," Rodriguez said.
The Nittany Lions will compete against the team, but not in their usual gym. The meet is set in an air-conditioned, better environment that resembles the White Building, the Nittany Lions' practice facility.
Sanabria said he is looking forward to competing in Puerto Rico.
"[I am looking forward to] going home, doing work, and doing a good job at the meet," Sanabria said.
But most of all, Rodriguez, Sanabria and Torres are excited to be back home to see their families and friends.
"I'm pretty excited. Last weekend, even in the meet, I was thinking of [going back to Puerto Rico]. All of my family is going to be there," Rodriguez said.
Torres said he is more focused on seeing his family rather than on the meet because gymnastics is what he does everyday. Seeing family is something new.
"I don't really focus on meets because doing the routines, doing gymnastics is what I do everyday. But seeing my family and seeing my friends, being home, is not something I do everyday," Torres said. "I know that when I get there I am going to go crazy when I see my friends and family."
Recently in Men's Gymnastics Category
By Samantha DelRosso, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It took the Penn State men's gymnastics team only five minutes to achieve a new season-high on the floor exercise on Saturday night. Each routine, about a minute long each, showcased different skills to help the Nittany Lions defeat No. 5 Minnesota with a season-high final score of 440.200.
The difference in the floor exercise from the team's previous meet against Illinois to the meet against Minnesota was not the two-week long break in between the meets, but the landings. Head coach Randy Jepson said the floor is an event where the gymnasts must exhibit great landings. And sophomore Alexis Torres did just that.
"Alexis only took one hop in his whole routine. It was outstanding. That's what you look for," Jepson said. "We have been focusing a lot on those landings. We started to see [sticking landings] tonight. Floor all around is much better in terms of our landings."
Torres, who placed first in the floor exercise, hit his season-high on the floor with a 15.650.
"I was just trying to stick everything. I wanted to do my best. Tonight, I did my best score. I just go out there and do it and have fun," Torres said.
Torres said he feels comfortable with his current routine. For now, he wants to work on being consistent with is routine; not changing anything and continuing what he did in the meet against Minnesota.
"The routine that I have and the score that I'm scoring is pretty clean and is pretty high, the highest I've been. In the future, I am going to work on it, but now, where we are, it is about constant routines and nothing about changing," Torres said.
As the fourth man in the five-man line up, Torres' has the opportunity to watch his teammates before competing in the floor exercise. He chooses not to. Instead, he tries to focus what he is going to do in his routine.
Junior Matt Felleman, however, does the opposite. As the third gymnast in the lineup, he watches the teammates that compete before him.
"After they hit a good set I get pretty excited. If they mess up, I know I have to set up and put a good performance on," Felleman said.
Felleman, who tied for second place on the floor routine, said he felt his routine was the cleanest set he has hit all season. He recorded a season-high score of 15.150, but noted that there is room for improvement.
"[I want to fix] the landings. I'm going to make sure I don't take any silly hops here and there," Felleman said.
The meet was the final competition in Rec Hall for the seniors on the team. Although it is an emotional moment for the four seniors, they know that there is more work to be done.
"For me, [the fact that is what the last time competing in Rec Hall] hasn't really sunk in. We still have a job to do," senior Wasef Burbar said. "We still have a lot of meets left and most importantly, Big Tens and NCAAs, so it definitely has not sunk in. I'm just trying to stay focused on what's to come."
Jepson was pleased with the performance by the team and glad that it was a great final home meet for the seniors. The team has faced two "solid" teams back-to-back, Illinois and Minnesota, and Jepson said the team has stepped up and responded well to adversity.
Good health helped the team beat Minnesota 440.200 to 431.500, as well. Many of the gymnasts who have suffered from injuries this season made an appearance on Saturday.
"I like the heart I see and I was happy to see us get a little healthier and get most of our line up to what it needed to be," Jepson said.
This weekend, the Nittany Lions will travel to Puerto Rico to compete in the home country of Torres, Néstor Rodriguez and Ismael Sanabria.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The postseason push for Penn State teams in March is on.
The first weekend of the month kicked off in fine fashion with two teams tallying Big Ten championships to go along with an individual being named the top performer at the Big Ten Men's Swimming & Diving Championships.
In dramatic fashion, the Nittany Lion women's track & field team notched its third conference crown at the Big Ten Indoor Championships on Saturday afternoon. It all came down to the 4x400-meter relay with the Lions leading Michigan by just half a point heading into the final event. The Lions stormed to a victory in the relay to seal the title.
"The women were outstanding today," said Director of Track & Field and Head Coach Beth Alford-Sullivan. "Michigan pressed us hard throughout the weekend, but we kept our composure and competed great. This is a championship win to remember."
Roughly 45 minutes after the women's track & field team was crowned champion, the Lady Lion basketball team finished off a 77-62 triumph over Michigan to clinch a share of its third-straight Big Ten regular season title. The Lady Lions join Ohio State and Iowa as the only programs to win three or more consecutive Big Ten titles.
"It's the first time in program history that we have won three Big Ten Championships in a row," head coach Coquese Washington said. "When this program has such a storied legacy, to be able to do something that this program hasn't done before, it's pretty hard. The program has accomplished so much and for this class and team to do something that sets them apart, that's really cool."
In the pool, sophomore Shane Ryan capped off a strong outing for the Nittany Lion men's swimming team by becoming the first Penn State men's swimmer to be named Swimmer of the Big Ten Championships on Saturday. Ryan broke the Big Ten record in the 100m freestyle, topping a mark set by former Northwestern Wildcat and 2012 London Olympics medalist Matt Grevers. Ryan is the first Nittany Lion to win two individual gold medals at the Big Ten Championships. His efforts powered the men's team to fifth in the team standings. The men's team's performance came one week after the Nittany Lion women's swimming & diving team took third at the Big Ten Women's Championships.
With a standout weekend in the books, the Nittany Lions are full steam ahead in postseason mode beginning on Friday when the Lady Lions kick off play as the No. 1 seed at the Big Ten Women's Basketball Tournament in Indianapolis. Penn State will meet either Northwestern or Ohio State at noon (BTN) on Friday. The semifinals take place on Saturday, with the tournament final on Sunday in Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
On Saturday, the three-time defending NCAA champion Penn State wrestling team will begin its Big Ten title defense at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis. Head coach Cael Sanderson and the Nittany Lions will look for their fourth-straight Big Ten title over the weekend. Additionally, seniors Ed Ruth and David Taylor have an opportunity to become Penn State's first four-time Big Ten individual champions. Junior Matt Brown is the third Nittany Lion in the lineup with a Big Ten individual title. The Big Ten finals will air live on BTN Sunday at 2 p.m.
There are several marquee events on the horizon following the action this weekend. The 2014 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament is slated to begin on March 13 in Indianapolis. The Nittany Lion men's hoops team will finish off its regular season this week with games at Northwestern and Minnesota. The Lions will learn their seed for the tournament on Sunday.
The track and field squads will also be in action during the third weekend in March. Penn State will travel to Albaquerque for the NCAA Indoor Championships on March 14-15.
Head coach James Franklin and the Nittany Lion football team will wrap up winter conditioning this week in preparation for the start of spring practice on March 17. The Nittany Lions will practice 15 times before the Blue-White Game on April 12 (1:30 p.m.).
The fourth weekend of March will feature no fewer than six postseason events for Penn State teams. The No. 1 wrestling team will begin its NCAA title defense on March 20 in Oklahoma City at the 2014 NCAA Wrestling Championships. The finals will take place on March 22. The ESPN family of networks will televise all six of the NCAA Wrestling Championships sessions.
In Happy Valley, the women's gymnastics team plays host to the Big Ten Championships in Rec Hall on March 22. Across campus, the Bryce Jordan Center is slated to host the first and second rounds of the NCAA Women's Basketball Championship. Games are slated for 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. on March 23 and 7 p.m. on March 25.
Out of town, the first Big Ten Hockey Tournament will take place in Saint Paul, Minn., beginning on March 20. The NCAA Women's Swimming & Diving Championships begin on March 20 in Minneapolis, as well. The Penn State fencing teams also kick of NCAA Championships competition in Columbus on March 20.
The month will wrap up with a weekend featuring the NCAA Men's Swimming & Diving Championships, which begin on March 27 in Austin, Texas. The Big Ten Men's Gymnastics Championships begin on March 28 in Lincoln, Neb.
With two titles already in hand, it will be a busy month ahead for Penn State teams competing in postseason competition. Stay tuned for complete coverage of the postseason push on GoPSUsports.com.
Key Dates Ahead in March
March 7 - Noon (BTN) - Lady Lions vs. Ohio State/Northwestern (Big Ten Tournament Quarterfinals - Indianapolis)
March 8 - 11 a.m./6 p.m. - Big Ten Wrestling Championships (Madison, Wis.)
March 9 - 12/2 p.m. (BTN) - Big Ten Wrestling Championships (Madison, Wis.)
March 13-16 - Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament (Indianapolis)
March 14-15 - NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships (Albuquerque, N.M.)
March 17 - First Day of Spring Football
March 20-22 - NCAA Wrestling Championships (Oklahoma City, Okla.); NCAA Fencing Championships (Columbus, Ohio); NCAA Women's Swimming & Diving Championships (Minneapolis, Minn.); Big Ten Men's Hockey Tournament (Saint Paul, Minn.)
March 22 - 12/5 p.m. - Big Ten Women's Gymnastics Championships (University Park, Pa.)
March 23 - 12:30/3 p.m. - NCAA Women's Basketball First Round (University Park, Pa.)
March 25 - 7 p.m. - NCAA Women's Basketball Second Round (University Park, Pa.)
March 27-29 - NCAA Men's Swimming & Diving Championships (Austin, Texas)
March 28-29 - Big Ten Men's Gymnastics Championships (Lincoln, Neb.)
Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
By Samantha DelRosso, GoPSUSports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- For the seniors on the men's gymnastics team, only one home meet is left in their Penn State career. On Saturday, the No. 7 Nittany Lions will host the No. 5 Minnesota Golden Gophers for their annual senior night meet to honor the four seniors.
This meet will be bittersweet for these gymnasts, who started the sport at very young ages. Take a look at each senior's journey as a Penn State gymnast.
"Welcome to Rec Hall."
Those are the four words that senior Preston Gall will never forget. After Gall's first time competing at home his freshman year, he shook head coach Randy Jepson's hand, and Jepson welcome him to the gym that he would competing in for the next four years.
Before coming to Penn State, as a junior in high school, Gall attended a Penn State gymnastics camp. It left a lasting impression, and while going through the recruitment process, although never taking a recruiting trip to State College, he could never shake the feeling that it just felt right at Penn State.
Like the other seniors, the team aspect is what Gall loves most.
"[My favorite part about being on the team is being with] a group of guys that you can just be goofy with and share your Penn State experience with," Gall said.
It hasn't hit Gall that his time as a Penn State gymnast is coming to a close. But he knows after the season is complete, he'll miss many things about the Penn State gymnastics program.
"Right now, you're sore all the time, so there's a lot of things that you look forward to missing. I'm sure after, I'll miss all the little things most," Gall said.
At 2 years old, Burbar started gymnastics because his mom was a coach at the gym. He would hang out at the gym because he did not have a babysitter. He became known as the "gym rat". Twenty years later, he is still the same gym rat, in a much larger gym.
When going through the recruiting process, he felt that Penn State was the best fit for him both athletically and academically. Burbar knew after talking to Coach Jepson that he wanted to be a part of Jepson's program.
Burbar's favorite part about being on the team is training with his "brothers".
"Day in and day out, [we are] training all of the time. And just for one goal; to win NCAA's. It's my favorite part; coming in here and busting our butts together," Burbar said.
Last year, the men's team was able to host the NCAA Championships in Rec Hall. When looking back on his time at Penn State, Burbar said that is his favorite memory.
"I don't think many gymnasts get the opportunity to have it at home and have your home fans and your friends here."
Burbar said this weekend's senior meet would be bittersweet. Coming off an injury, this will be his first full meet back. He is expected to compete in the floor exercise, parallel bars, and high bar.
After the season ends, Burbar says he'll miss "the entire experience".
"[I will miss] everything that comes along with [Penn State gymnastics]. Everyone you meet, everything you have to go through, the competitions, the whole experience," Burbar said.
Jochumsson, who started gymnastics at 7 years old, came to Penn State from Iceland. He said there was not much happening in Iceland, so he decided to look at schools in the United States.
"Penn State just stood out. Great school and a good gymnastics program," Jochumsson said.
His favorite part about being on the team is his teammates. Although he is almost 3,000 miles from his hometown, he has found a home in Penn State gymnastics. He also has been welcomed into the homes of many of his teammates.
"During Thanksgiving and winter break, they invite me to their houses. That makes [being far away] a lot easier," Jochumsson said.
Jochumsson's favorite memory as a Penn State gymnast is competing for the first time freshman year.
"I was very nervous. Everyone could tell I was so nervous, but people tried to calm me down," he said. "I didn't have a very good set, but I fought through it. It was a lot of fun."
He said he will miss his teammates, training, and competing as a Penn State gymnast. Next up for Jochumsson after graduation is going back to Iceland and applying graduate schools.
At 4 years old, Adrian Evans and his sister Darcy, who is four years older, were a lot to handle for Evans' mother. She decided to put them both in gymnastics to get them out of the house at the same time for a couple of times a week. And for Adrian, it stuck.
Sixteen years later, Evans began his college search. He visited a lot of Big Ten schools, but when he stepped foot on Penn State's campus, the choice was "obvious".
Evans has enjoyed his time as a Penn State gymnast, but what he loves most is getting to spend time with his teammates and coaches.
"It's an awesome family to be a part of, I will miss them a lot," Evans said.
Like Burbar, his favorite memory as a Penn State gymnast is attending the NCAA Championships in Rec Hall last year. He said has never been in an atmosphere like the one inside of Rec Hall during the NCAA Championships.
With senior night quickly approaching, Evans said it hasn't sunk in that it his last meet in Rec Hall.
"I haven't really thought about it much as senior night yet, I'm more worried about doing a good job against Minnesota. They are a really good team," Evans said. "I'm sure once the meet is over it'll actually sink in. I'll probably embarrass myself and cry or something. But right now, I'm just worried about putting in a good performance."
Watch the men's gymnastics team take on the Golden Gophers in Rec Hall on Saturday evening at 7.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State Athletics was heavily involved with the 42nd IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (THON) held at the Bryce Jordan Center this weekend.
A record 711 dancers began standing at 6 p.m. on Friday and did not sit down or sleep until Sunday at 4 p.m. to raise awareness for the fight against pediatric cancer in the largest student-run philanthropy in the world.
Since 1977, THON has partnered with The Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital with one goal in mind: conquering childhood cancer. THON raised a record of more than $13.3 million in 2014. To date, more than $110 million has been raised by THON.
Several Penn State student-athletes danced in the annual dance marathon. Representing the Student Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB) will be Maggie Harding from women's volleyball, Natalie Buttinger from field hockey, Erin Kehoe from women's soccer and Christian Kaschak from men's soccer.
Additionally, Nicole Williams and Elise Potter from the Lionettes squad and Eugene Bodden, Kali Fleckenstein, Carrie Tedesco and Ally Zimmerman from Penn State cheerleading danced in THON.
Several teams and coaches played an active role in THON events throughout the weekend, in addition to squads participating in Saturday's annual pep rally and team dance competition.
We would also like to congratulate Penn State Athletic Communications student assistant Rachel Steinberg, as she danced over the weekend, in addition to the several student assistants actively involved with THON.
Take a look through our THON weekend updates on the involvement Penn State Athletics. To donate to THON, please visit THON.org.
3:30 p.m. - Feature: Student-Athletes Set to Dance for Pediatric Cancer
Click here to read a feature on the student-athletes participating in THON 2014 - Feature Story
6 p.m. - THON 2014 Begins
The 711 dancers took their feet at 6 p.m. before an energetic crowd inside the Bryce Jordan Center to begin 46-straight hours on their feet.
11 p.m. - Interview on the Floor
GoPSUsports.com talked with women's volleyball senior Maggie Harding on the floor about her experience during THON.
3 p.m. - Student-Athletes Host Make-A-Wish Families
Several teams hosted THON Make-A-Wish families on Saturday afternoon as part of the THON 2014 festivities.
More than 50 members of the Nittany Lion football team welcomed nearly 40 THON Make-A-Wish children and their families to a special tour of the Lasch Football Building on Saturday afternoon.
The Make-A-Wish event is circled on the calendar for the Nittany Lions every year. The THON families gathered inside the home of Penn State football to take photos, get autographs, tour the facility with the Nittany Lions, eat ice cream from the Penn State Creamery and take a group photo.
Head coach James Franklin greeted the group when it arrived at the facility tour before senior Miles Dieffenbach and sophomore Akeel Lynch led families on tours. Take a look at the Make-A-Wish event at the Lasch Football Complex on Saturday.
Photo Gallery - THON Make-A-Wish Football Event
5 p.m. - Student-Athletes Participate in Athlete Hour
Athletes from several teams on campus spent times with the THON Four Diamonds children inside the Bryce Jordan Center during athlete hour on Saturday. Take a look.
9:45 p.m. - VIDEO: Pep Rally Dance Competition Highlights
One of the THON highlights every year comes on Saturday night when the teams of Penn State Athletics hop on stage and compete in a dancing competition during the annual pep rally. In all, 12 different teams competed in the 2014 version of the dance-off.
With resounding approval from a packed house in the Bryce Jordan Center, the Nittany Lion men's swimming team was named champion of the team dancing competition for the second-straight year. We have highlights of every team dancing on Saturday night at THON.
Photo Gallery - THON 2014 Pep Rally
Men's Swimming (Champions) - Full Dance
Football - Full Dance
Men's Basketball - Full Dance
Women's Volleyball - Full Dance
Men's Gymnastics - Full Dance
Women's Tennis - Full Dance
Field Hockey - Full Dance
Fencing - Full Dance
Men's Soccer - Full Dance
Women's Lacrosse - Full Dance
Women's Soccer - Full Dance
Women's Golf - Full Dance
11:05 p.m. - Student-Athlete Dancer Interviews: Hour 30
GoPSUsports.com talks with THON 2014 dancers Natalie Buttinger (field hockey) and Erin Kehoe (women's soccer) during the 30th hour of their 46-hour quest at THON.
12:55 p.m. - VIDEO: Coach Franklin Addresses THON 2014
Head coach James Franklin took the stage at THON on Sunday afternoon, urging the dancers to continuing working hard in their final push at the 46-hour marathon. Franklin spoke before a capacity crowd inside the Bryce Jordan Center. Take a look.
4:11 p.m. - THON 2014 Raises Record $13.3 Million
THON 2014 reached new heights on Sunday afternoon when it was revealed that this year's efforts raised $13,343,517.33 for fight against pediatric cancer. Congratulations to everyone involved in THON 2014. Here is a look at the reveal on the Rec Hall video board following Sunday's Penn State wrestling victory over Clarion.
Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
By Gabrielle Richards, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - At the 2003 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships, Ohio State alum and former Olympian, Raj Bhavsar, was slated to perform a double-pike on vault. As he approached the runway, commentators were speculating on the difficulty of landing a double pike, especially with the added pressure of a large audience. Bhavsar had no trouble, landing his vault routine was effortless. The difficulty of double-pike goes without saying; one has to rotate in the air and perform two reverse flips, holding their legs in a parallel position and stick the landing--doing that three times is practically unheard of. But, for Nittany Lion Tristan Duverglas, performing a triple-pike is normal in practice and in competition.
Last Saturday, the men's and women's gymnastics teams hosted Illinois in a double dual. The difficulty of Duverglas's vault and his ability to stick the landing of a triple-pike earned him a vault score of 15.350. The decision to try such an advanced routine was one made collectively by head coach Randy Jepson and Duverglas.
"I found some videos on YouTube of gymnasts doing that vault and I asked coach if I could try it," Duverglas said. "He gave me the OK and I got to work on it all summer and during the off-season. I really wanted to land it."
Working hard to achieve a goal has been a personality trait that Duverglas has had since he first started his gymnastics career. His parents were his biggest influence in gymnastics because it was their decision to enroll him in gymnastics classes.
"My choice to start gymnastics wasn't really my own," Duverglas said. "But, I fell in love with it and stuck with it ever since."
The West Orange, N.J., native took his gymnastics to the competitive level when he became a member of Surgent's Elite Gymnastics Club. At Surgent's. Duverglas grew to be a level 10 gymnast and has always been consistent on vault. In 2007, he placed fourth in the Junior Olympics. Duverglas cruised to championships all over the state of New Jersey, taking home first place at the 2008 and 2009 Level 10 Championships and the 2011 Regionals.
The most impressive facet of Duverglas's competitive nature is that he attended a traditional high school. Most competitive gymnasts attend special schools for athletes or are home schooled.
"I would wake up at 6:30 a.m. and start school at 7:30 a.m.," Duverglas said. "I would finish school around 2:30 p.m. and would head right to the gym."
Duverglas's desire to compete in college came during his sophomore year of high school. When he started seeing his club teammates attend schools like Michigan, Stanford and even Penn State; that is when he knew that collegiate gymnastics was a possibility for him.
During his senior year of high school, Duverglas had a handful of schools that were interested in him to compete for them. He chose Penn State because coach Jepson was one of the only coaches who came to talk with him in person. The transition to Penn State was natural; being only two hours from home would mean his family would be able to come and see him compete.
"At home I was just apart of a club team," Duverglas said. "To come here, to be apart of this family and to represent this school is truly a blessing and an honor."
In his first year as a Nittany Lion, he competed in all nine of the team's meets, including the NCAA Championships. He earned a spot in the Big Ten individual vault final and earned Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors twice that season. He repeated his NCAA and Big Ten contributions during his sophomore year, as well.
Aside from competing in the Big Ten and being apart of the student-athlete family at Penn State, Duverglas values his experiences on campus just as much as those that occur on the mat.
"Penn State is a completely different environment," Duverglas said. "I remember my freshman year, I was walking down the street with a kid from Asia and a kid from India, that wouldn't happen at home. I appreciate all of the different people that I get to meet here, while doing something I love and getting a great education."
This season, Duverglas is making a big splash on vault and the rings; two events he says are his favorite to practice. It is his goal to make event finals at the Big Ten and NCAA championships in both, and he wants to place in the top five on vault.
When Duverglas isn't performing world-class vaults, he finds his relaxation through music and trying his hand at DJing.
"I love music and putting things together," Duverglas said. "One of the girls gymnasts actually approached me to put together one of their floor routine mixes."
The junior telecommunications major knows that gymnastics will unfortunately not be something that he can do forever, and has been looking into other sports for when he starts his career and graduates next year.
"I have been looking into kickboxing," Duverglas laughed. "I think that I would be decent at that."
But until that time comes, Duverglas is going to continue to contribute to his team, who he considers "family." His family has had to persevere through injury all season; a trait that he believes will help them shine at both the Big Ten and NCAA Championships.
"If we can stay healthy, the sky is the limit," Duverglas said. "We just need to wear our hearts on our sleeves and give it all we got. Coach Jepson has taught us to never give up. I believe that if we can do that, we can do anything."
By Samantha DelRosso, GoPSUSports.com
Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- An extraordinary performance in a double dual; that's what it takes to win the "Gene Wettstone Award". And junior all around gymnast Tristan Duverglas did just that, helping the Penn State men's gymnastics team defeat No. 5 Illinois on Saturday.
A triple pike on vault is the kind of vault only a select few gymnasts in the world are currently doing. Duverglas nailed the routine to earn the award, lead the meet on vault and set a season-high with a score of 15.350.
"I've always wondered what it would be like to win that award. And I'm honored," Duverglas said.
The late Gene Wettesone led Penn State gymnastics to nine NCAA titles during his time as head coach. He left behind a legacy for the program and introduced the "double dual" to Penn State gymnastics. The "Gene Wettstone Award" is granted to the most extraordinary gymnast after each double dual meet.
Behind Duverglas, the No. 7 Nittany Lions edged Illinois in a close meet. Penn State finished with a score of 436.050, while the Fighting Illini ended the meet with a score of 431.150.
Head coach Randy Jepson said he was pleased that the team was tested against a strong team like Illinois.
"It was great to come out to fight tooth and nail, to fight towards the end there, and have our guys show some heart to pull out a win," Jepson said.
Duverglas also set a career-best on the parallel bars with a score of 14.350. All around gymnast Trevor Howard finished first on the parallel bars with a score of 15.100.
Duverglas said his training has been more focused on the little things, rather than each routine as a whole.
The team achieved a season-best team score of 71.650 on the high bar with help from redshirt junior Nestór Rodriguez, who finished first in the event, with a score of 15.000.
On the still rings, Howard and Alexis Torres finished second and third, respectively.
Torres participated in his first all around and placed third with a score of 85.400. Howard took second.
This is the Nittany Lions' fifth-straight victory.
"It was a good matchup. I just told the guys they have to go out and perform their routines; nothing special, nothing different, do what you've been doing everyday and let it fly," Jepson said.
Next weekend, Howard and Craig Hernandez will travel to Las Vegas to compete in the Winter Cup. This gives the rest of the team the opportunity to refocus, address problem areas, and get some rest.
By Samantha DelRosso, GoPSUSports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, PA-- Sophomore all around gymnast Alexis Torres is making his family and friends proud from 1,700 miles away. This past weekend the Catano, Puerto Rico, native earned his career-high score in the floor exercise, on still rings, and on the pommel horse.
"It's sometimes hard [being away from home], but I know my family is looking out for me, and my friends, too. They are so proud of me," Torres said. "I just keep going because I know they are going to be proud of me and that's the only thing that I want to do."
His family was his biggest influence in becoming a gymnast. At age six, Torres' parents put him in gymnastics classes. He loved it right from the start and kept going ever since. Making his family proud is a main motivator for him.
Performance is also a motivator for Torres. If he has fun and does the things he does in practice everyday, he knows that he will perform well.
"I don't even think about it. I just do it, because I already know how. The thing that motivates me is doing well. But even if I don't do well, I know that I am going to do well the next time," Torres said.
While in high school, Torres met a few of the gymnasts on the Penn State men's gymnastics team at a competition in Puerto Rico. After meeting them and being recruited by head coach Randy Jepson, he knew Penn State was the college for him.
"I wasn't really thinking about going to the states, but Randy recruited me. I didn't even [look at] other universities," Torres said.
Torres' time as a Penn State gymnast has been a positive experience for him. He said that the team is like a family.
"We motivate ourselves, we keep each other going, and we keep our heads up," Torres said. "If we see somebody that's feeling down, we just say, 'Don't worry about it, it's just a bad day, everybody has that.'"
In his second year as a Penn State gymnast, Torres has already led the team in several meets. In the meet last weekend against No. 15 Temple, Torres placed first in the floor exercise with a score of 15.300. He also finished second on the still rings, scoring a 15.400.
Torres said he was happy with his performance against Temple because his performance resembled how he practiced the week before. Torres said he hopes to continue performing how he practices in the coming meets.
He will have the chance to see if his performance resembles his practice again this weekend when the No. 7 Nittany Lions take on Illinois on Saturday in their first Big Ten meet of the season.
As a team, Illinois is ranked fifth in the coaches poll. Individually, three Illinois gymnasts hold number one spots in event rankings. Sophomore Fred Hartville holds the number one spot on vault with a 15.233. Red shirt sophomore C.J. Maestas holds the number one spot on rings with a 16.000. Senior Jordan Valdez holds the number one spot on high bar with a 15.450.
Saturday's meet in Rec Hall at 4 pm is a double dual. The No. 21-ranked women's gymnastics team will also be competing against the 15th-ranked Illinois women's gymnastics team.
By Gabrielle Richards, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Saturday's contest at Rec Hall was unique with both Penn State's men's and women's gymnastics teams competing together. As both teams made their way out onto the mat, they engaged the crowd in the infamous "WE ARE" cheer. The women took on the Nebraska Cornhuskers and the men battled it out with the Temple Owls.
Men's Team is Victorious in Contest
The Nittany Lions have been consistent across the board when it comes to putting up points. From their season-opener at Army to this Saturday's contest against Temple, the men's gymnastics team has achieved scores in the 420 to 430 range. This weekend was no different; the Nittany Lions bested Temple 431.550 to 401.600.
Head coach Randy Jepson spoke to his team's resilience during the season thus far, as many have had to step up to the plate due to teammates' injuries.
"We have been pretty beat up and injured," said Jepson. "We had to call on guys who may not normally compete in a certain event. They were tested and they stepped up to the plate today."
Coach Jepson believes that part of his team's success is due to the contributions of the unsung heroes.
"We are lucky to have guys like Jeremy Munn and Tristan Duverglas," said Jepson. "They really stepped up today."
Munn is a freshman walk-on who was called on this Saturday to fill spots on the floor and vault. He scored 14.500 points for the Nittany Lions on floor and 14.200 points on the vault.
Duverglas placed first on vault with 15.500 points, a performance that Jepson says, "you would see in the finals of the World Championships."
Coach Jepson was thoroughly impressed with the performance of sophomore Alexis Torres. Torres won the floor event with a score of 15.300.
"He is very talented," said Jepson of Torres's performance. "Today was the first time I saw him compete the way he has trained. His scores can only go up from here."
And then there is Trevor Howard...
The sophomore has been the most consistent performer for the Nittany Lions. Howard competes in all but one event. He put up big numbers on parallel bars (15.150) and vault (14.800) against Temple this Saturday.
"I love competing in double duals," said Howard. "The girls are always extremely supportive and its great to see all of the fans and my family come out."
When Howard stepped out to compete in his high bar rotation, he was the only gymnast on the mat. In what was a chaotic atmosphere for most of the double dual, Rec Hall was silent as they watched Howard put up 14.550 points on the high bar.
"High bar was definitely my best even today," said Howard. "I have been working really hard on it in practice. To be able to come out today, stick the landing and give the crowd a show was awesome."
But, being the last to compete is a challenge that Howard welcomes with open arms, as he uses that pressure as preparation for National Team tryouts.
"I try to build off these types of settings and set higher goals for myself," said Howard. "Coach Jepson has me go last to help me prepare for those pressure sets."
Rec Hall's competitive setting isn't just for teams, but for siblings, too
Penn State's women's gymnastics' Krystal Welsh was especially excited for Saturday's double dual. She not only got compete in front of her parents, but she had the rare opportunity of sharing the mat with her brother and Temple Owl, Jakob Welsh.
"I was so excited to see him compete," said Jakob Welsh. "He was the first person I looked for when I walked on the mat. We both made all-around so that makes me really happy."
Krystal Welsh finished second for Penn State, and fourth in the all-around and Jakob Welsh finished first for Temple.
Season best score gives Nittany Lions hope, despite loss to Nebraska
No. 23 Penn State's women's gymnastics put up a fight against No. 8 Nebraska this Saturday in the double dual. Despite season best score of 196.150, the Nittany Lions fell short of the Cornhuskers' score of 197.225.
Head Coach Jeff Thompson isn't going to let this tough loss hold his team back from improvement. His coaching staff and team will look at the positives.
"We knew we had our work cut out for us heading into today's meet," said Thompson. "We got off to a great start of vault, but I think we got a little too excited."
The Nittany Lions gave the Cornhuskers a run for their money on vault, especially with the performance of freshman Emma Sibson. Sibson tied Nebraska's Jessie DeZiel with a score of 9.950.
"Today I was focused on staying relaxed," said Sibson. "I did my vault how I do it in practice, which was a personal high for me, but there is always room for improvement."
Penn State was neck and neck with Nebraska in vault, losing 49.400 to 49.150.
Stauder's focus and bringing practice performances to competition
Kassidy Stauder is quickly becoming a household name in Big Ten gymnastics, as she owns her performances in uneven parallel bars and beam. They key to her consistent performances, she says, is her effort to perform her routines in competition exactly how she does in practice. Stauder's numbers this weekend illustrate her dedication to the notion, "practice makes perfect."
"Competing how we practice is becoming a team theme," said Stauder. "I warm up the same way for a meet as I do in practice, which helps keep my performance consistency."
Stauder finished behind Nebraska's DeZiel and Emily Wong in the all-around with 39.350 points.
Coach Thompson is looking forward to the rest of the season, especially after his team's performance against Nebraska. With key meets in the Big Ten coming up, it is imperative for the Nittany Lions to not lose sight of the positive strides made in Saturday's dual.
"We lost events by tenths of a point," said Thompson. "We can find those tenths of a point by doing a few extra hand stands and sticking some more landings. We can only build from the teams performance today."
The gymnastics teams will compete in another double dual next weekend at Rec Hall against Illinois. The Nittany Lions and the Fighting Illini will take the mat on Saturday at 4 p.m.