By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY 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.
Over of 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.
"They're 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."
For Beck 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.
One of 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 reliable performers.
"I've 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."
The 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 leave.
"Mackenzie 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 done."
Beck is 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.
One of 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.
Despite having less mat time, Beck has not let his attitude change and has remained one of the Nittany Lions strongest leaders.
"I would 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."
With 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.
"It doesn't 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."
Their shared desire to put the team over themselves is not the only thing that Beck and Dow have in common.
According to Dow, the two share a similar attitude and a desire to push each other to reach their potential.
"Tony 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 horse."
Not only does Jepson love the work ethic that the two seniors bring to the team, he appreciates the humility that the pair has shown.
"When 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."
With 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.
"These 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."