All Six Nittany Lions to compete in NCAA Individual Finals claim All-America honors
Under the direction of Randy Jepson, the 2000, 2004, and 2007 National Coach of the Year, the Penn State men's gymnastics program has carried on the proud tradition of excellence and achievement established by its forebearers. After guiding his teams to three national championships and two Big Ten titles, Jepson serves as a symbol of Penn State's vaunted gymnastics heritage.
Testament to his impact upon and dedication to the Penn State program and the sport overall, Jepson received the prestigious CGA Honor Coach Award in 2011. Bestowed annually, the Honor Coach Award recognizes CGA member coaches with 25 years or more of service to the sport of gymnastics. Presented with the honor at the NCAA/CGA Awards Banquet in April, Jepson received a special introduction by Bill Ballister, his coach and mentor at the University of Oregon.
A member of the coaching staff since 1983, Jepson was appointed head coach on July 6, 1992, succeeding long-time head coach Karl Schier. During Jepson's coaching tenure at his alma mater, Penn State student-athletes have earned All-America honors 97 times. He has also mentored 17 individual national champions, including Mark Sohn, the first gymnast to win four-consecutive pommel horse national championships.
Jepson also championed the renovation efforts of the White Building, transforming the facility into the top collegiate training site in the country.
Before his appointment as acting head coach, Jepson spent six seasons as an assistant to former head coach Karl Schier, who retired on October 1, 1991.
Jepson is the sixth head coach in the 72-year history of the Penn State men's gymnastics program and only the third in the last 64 years. Gene Wettstone coached from 1939-76 and was succeeded by Schier, one of his former athletes who served from 1977-91.
Jepson earned the prestigious honor on April of 1991, the year he was named Assistant Coach of the Year by the National Association of Collegiate Gymnastics Coaches for his outstanding work.
Seven months prior to that, he coached Mike Masucci to a gold medal in the all-around as head coach of the U.S. team that participated in the Cup of Puerto Rico international meet in San Juan. Masucci also captured gold medals in four events.
A native of Portland, Ore., Jepson lettered for three years at the University of Oregon and was an NCAA finalist on the rings his sophomore year. He transferred to Penn State in 1982, when the Ducks dropped their gymnastics program. In his one season as a Nittany Lion, Jepson was captain and won All-America honors on rings.
A Nissen-Award nominee as a senior, Jepson posted a perfect score of 10.0 on rings in a meet against a team from the Soviet Union in 1983 at Rec Hall.
Jepson joined the Lions' coaching staff as a graduate assistant in 1983 and worked in that capacity for two seasons. His first season as an assistant coach was 1985-86.
Jepson has been instrumental in guiding Penn State gymnastics to berths on the U.S. Senior National and Developmental squads, and in addition was a member of the 1997 and 2005 USA World Championships coaching staff.
A member of the National Association of Collegiate Gymnastics Coaches, Jepson served as secretary and treasurer of the United States Elite Coaches Association.
In years past, Jepson has served men's program director at Woodward Gymnastics Camp in Woodward, Pa. In addition, Jepson directed the North team that won the gold medal at the 1993 United States Olympic Festival.
Jepson has also been heavily involved in national team training camps, helping to prepare teams for the 1999 World Championships in China and the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. He was also selected as assistant coach for the 1999 Pan American Games team in Winnipeg, Canada. In 2006, Jepson served as an assistant coach for Team USA at the World Championships and in a meet versus France and Switzerland. In February of 2008, Jepson served as head coach of a six-man U.S. team in a dual meet versus Canada, leading the Americans to victory. Later that year, countless hours spent overseeing the training of world class gymnast and Penn State assistant coach Kevin Tan paid off for Jepson, as Tan realized a lifelong dream by earning a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team. Jepson served as Tan's personal coach, accompanying him to Beijing, China for the 2008 Summer Games, where he captured a bronze medal in the team competition.
Jepson received his master's degree from Penn State in exercise sport and science, with an emphasis in biomechanics, in 1990. He and his wife, Sue, a Penn State alum, and their four children - Adam and Anna, who both currently attend Penn State, Emily, and Maggie - reside in Centre Hall.
JEPSON'S CAREER/YEAR-BY-YEAR 2011
Penn State went undefeated at home in Rec Hall, claiming wins over Army, defending national champion Michigan, Springfield College, and Ohio State, knocked off two-time reigning Big Ten champion Illinois, Minnesota, and Iowa on the road, and won its 13th consecutive West Point Open crown. The Nittany Lions also traveled to San Juan for an international dual meet with the Puerto Rico National Team. Penn State established a season-high team score of 356.750 in a tri-meet at Oklahoma.
Penn State placed second in its qualifying session at the National Collegiate Championships to advance to the team finals for the first time since 2008. The Nittany Lions used a record-setting performance in the still rings, scoring a 62.300, to qualify. Penn State finished in sixth place at the team finals.
Four Nittany Lions earned All-America recognition at the National Collegiate Championships for the first time since 2007. Wasef Burbar (high bar), Miguel Pineda (still rings), Parker Raque (floor exercise, vault), and Scott Rosenthal (still rings) each secured All-America honors for the first time in his career.
Junior Parker Raque came through in the clutch for Penn State at the National Collegiate Championships, setting career highs in three events (floor exercise, still rings, vault) to lead the Nittany Lions. In the individual event finals, he scored a career best 15.400 in the floor exercise and tied a personal high that he set in the national qualifier in the vault (16.050) to earn All-America honors in each event.
Penn State placed fourth at the Big Ten Championships, highlighted by a conference-high team rings score of 60.650. Junior Scott Rosenthal placed second in the still rings in the individual event finals, earning Second Team All-Big Ten honors.
Jepson was recognized with the 2011 College Gymnastics Association Honor Coach Award at the NCAA/CGA Award Banquet in Columbus, Ohio in April. The Honor Coach Award is bestowed annually to CGA member coaches with 25 years or more of service to the sport of gymnastics.
Junior Miguel Pineda not only excelled in the competition arena but also in the classroom in 2011. A science major, he was honored as the NCAA Elite 88 Award winner and was named to the CoSIDA/Capital One Academic All-America and CGA All-America Scholar Athlete First Teams. In addition, Pineda was a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar Award recipient and earned Academic All-Big Ten honors for the second straight year.
A standout competitive season in 2011 was only surpassed by the team's performance in the classroom. The Nittany Lions earned the Penn State Varsity "S" Award and boasted 11 CGA All-American Scholar Athletes, nine Academic All-Big Ten honorees, and three Big Ten Distinguished Scholar Award recipients.
With a multitude of injuries of varying degrees to a host of veterans, Penn State was forced to rely heavily on its talented freshman class in 2010. Of the 452 total routines performed by Nittany Lion gymnasts, 237 were contributed by true freshmen or 52 percent. If sophomores (or gymnasts with two years or fewer of competitive collegiate experience) were included, that number jumps to 327, meaning underclassmen accounted for a remarkable 72 percent of Penn State routines.
The Nittany Lions opened the season by winning their 12th consecutive West Point Open. Penn State also gained a home victory over William & Mary and swept a tri-meet versus Minnesota and Temple at Rec Hall. Penn State established a season-high team score of 354.450 in a home loss to Oklahoma.
Felix Aronovich was named Big Ten Co-Freshman of the Year, becoming the first Nittany Lion to receive the conference award since Mike Dutka in 1997. Aronovich competed in every meet, earning 13 top three finishes, including seven titles.
At the Big Ten Championships, Penn State overtook two higher ranked teams, including host Ohio State, to place a surprising third. Senior Nick Virbitsky earned Second Team All-Big Ten honors, contributing Penn State's top showing in the individual event finals by placing second in the floor exercise.
In his final performance as a collegiate athlete, senior Noam Shaham finished sixth in the high bar in the individual finals of the National Collegiate Championships to earn his first career All-America honor.
Twelve Nittany Lions, an impressive 60 percent of the 2010 roster, were honored as CGA All-America Scholar Athletes. Nine received first team accolades, including Miguel Pineda and Logan Wyman, who were two of just four gymnasts nationwide to earn perfect 4.0 GPAs, while three were recognized on the second team. In addition, Pineda, Wyman, Noam Shaham and Philip Harris were named Big Ten Distinguished Scholars and eight Nittany Lions received Academic All-Big Ten honors.
The Nittany Lions began the season by winning their 11th consecutive West Point Open. The 2009 home schedule was highlighted by a 348.900-348.350 victory over Big Ten rival Michigan, which would go on to finish second at the National Collegiate Championships. Penn State established a season-high team score of 356.300 in a loss at Oklahoma.
Casey Sandy penned the final chapter of one of the most storied careers in the vaunted history of Penn State men's gymnastics with a stellar senior year. He captured 29 titles, including seven in the pommel horse and six in the parallel bars. He tied the single season conference record by earning five Big Ten Gymnast of the Week awards and shattered the career mark for winning a total of 11 league honors. In the midst of his exceptional senior season, Sandy also was able to further his international gymnastics career by winning the all-around on both days at the Elite Canada 2009 thereby securing himself a roster spot on the Canadian National Team. Sandy's march towards history and assault on the Penn State record book was slowed only by injury, as he suffered a severe toe sprain at the Big Ten Championships. Refusing to be hindered by the injury, he gutted out a win in the all-around in the qualifier at the National Collegiate Championships. Sandy then went on to earn his eighth and ninth All-America honors of his career with top eight finishes in all-around and vault finals.
Sandy's brilliant season and exceptional career culminated with him being presented with the 2009 Nissen-Emery Award, becoming Penn State's NCAA-record sixth recipient of the sport's most prestigious honor. He was also named Penn State Male Athlete of the Year for the second consecutive time.
Five Nittany Lions (four on the first team) were recognized as All-America Scholar Athletes by the College Gymnastics Association while six received Academic All-Big Ten honors.
For the second consecutive year, historic Rec Hall was the site of a Penn State championship, as the Nittany Lions captured the program's second Big Ten title in front of their home fans. The competition and the Penn State victory was aired live to a national television audience on the Big Ten Network.
Randy Jepson was named Big Ten Coach of the Year for the second time in his career and was also honored as the CGA Central Region Coach of the Year. Assistant Coach Slava Boiko was recognized as CGA Central Region Assistant Coach of the Year.
Casey Sandy had arguably the greatest individual season in the storied history of Penn State men's gymnastics. He tied a conference record by earning Big Ten Male Gymnast of the Week accolades four times en route to being unanimously selected as the 2008 Big Ten Gymnast of the Year. In leading Penn State to the Big Ten championship, Sandy won individual conference titles in the parallel bars and all-around. He then went on to dominate at the national collegiate championships, capturing the NCAA all-around crown to become the first Penn State gymnast to win the Big Ten and NCAA all-around championships in the same year. Sandy secured a total of six All-America honors, the most ever by a Nittany Lion at a single NCAA Championships, giving him seven for his career.
Derek Helsby placed fourth in the all-around at the Big Ten Championships to become just the second Nittany Lion in program history to earn All-Big Ten honors in three consecutive seasons. After an excellent senior season, Helsby was selected as a Nissen-Emery Award finalist.
Tommy Ramos capped off a brilliant career by claiming his second Big Ten still rings championship in addition to earning his sixth All-America honor by placing third in the rings at the National Collegiate Championships.
Seven different Nittany Lions were ranked in the top 20 in the final individual GymInfo national rankings.
Penn State posted a season-high score of 360.550 in a win over Ohio State at St. John Arena in Columbus in a meet broadcast by the Big Ten Network.
Under Randy Jepson's guidance and tutelage, Penn State assistant coach Kevin Tan earned a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team and went on to win a bronze medal in the team finals at the Summer Olympic games in Beijing, China.
In front of its home fans at historic Rec Hall, Penn State captured its NCAA-record 12th national championship, posting a season-high team score of 221.000 to edge two-time defending title-winner Oklahoma.
Randy Jepson was named National Coach of the Year for the third time in his career while Slava Boiko and Kevin Tan were honored as National Assistant Coaches of the Year.
Matt Cohen punctuated his brilliant Nittany Lion career by becoming Penn State's fifth Nissen-Emery Award winner.
Four Nittany Lions earned All-America honors: Tommy Ramos (rings, parallel bars, high bar), Casey Sandy (pommel horse), Vladi Klurman (rings), Nick Virbitsky (floor exercise).
Tommy Ramos and Casey Sandy recorded runner-up finishes in the rings and pommel horse, respectively, at the Big Ten Championships and the National Collegiate Championships.
Penn State placed second at the Big Ten Championships, just .100 behind Ohio State.
Tommy Ramos (rings), Vladi Klurman (vault), Casey Sandy (pommel horse), and Matt Cohen (all-around) all spent significant time as the No. 1-ranked competitor in the nation in individual events.
Penn State captured its ninth-consecutive West Point Open title.
Freshman Casey Sandy took the collegiate gymnastics world by storm, capturing at least a share of eight titles, including three-straight all-around wins, through the first three meets of the 2006 season. However, a broken arm in mid-February ended his promising season.
The Nittany Lions edged Stanford, 216.800-216.750, in a highly competitive dual meet at the Bryce Jordan Center. Sophomore Derek Helsby took the all-around and pommel horse titles en route to winning the Gene Wettstone Award.
In a special ceremony following a dual meet win over William & Mary, a sculpture was donated to the All-Sports Museum honoring the legacy and contributions of former head coach Gene Wettstone.
Sophomore Tommy Ramos continued Penn State's conference dominance on the still rings, winning the title at the Big Ten Championships and give the Nittany Lions rings champions in five of the last six years.
Derek Helsby earned four All-American honors (all-around, pommel horse, rings, parallel bars) while Tommy Ramos secured two (rings and parallel bars), helping Penn State to finish fourth at the NCAA Championships.
Jepson reached the 225-win milestone with Penn State's first place-finish at the West Point Open, its eighth-consecutive title at the annual meet.
International competition returned to Rec Hall for the first time in 21 years, as a team of Japanese College All-Stars ventured to University Park for a dual meet. Penn State posted a season-high team score (224.150) in a narrow defeat.
Luis Vargas punctuated his Nittany Lion career by earning five All-America honors at the 2005 NCAA Championships, successfully defending his all-around crown, and capturing the pommel horse title.
Vargas garnered the Big Ten's highest honor, the Jesse Owens Male Athlete of the Year Award.
As a freshman, Santiago Lopez added his name to prestigious list of Penn State All-Americans, placing fourth in the event finals of the vault at the NCAA Championships.
The 2004 National Coach of the Year, Jepson and the Lions celebrated their NCAA-record 11th national title when they posted a season-high 223.350, beating two-time defending champion Oklahoma by over one point. Sophomore Luis Vargas took the all-around, becoming Penn State's first all-around champion since 1973.
Kevin Tan finished his career by capturing back-to-back national championships on the still rings and also won his third-straight Big Ten Championship on the apparatus. Tan also won the Big Ten title on the parallel bars.
The Lions finished second at the Big Ten Championships behind host Illinois.
With Vargas and Tan's All-American honors, Penn State tacked on two more champions to its NCAA-record, giving them 48 overall.
Jepson celebrated 200 wins on Feb. 22, 2003, vs. Ohio State. The Lions won the meet 220.000-216.875. He went on to be named the 2003 Big Ten Coach of the Year.
The Nittany Lions won their first Big Ten Championship since joining the league in 1993. Penn State scored a 220.500, almost two points ahead of the No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes (218.600), en route to blowing away the competition for the title in Columbus, Ohio.
Kevin Tan became Penn State's sixth NCAA champion on the still rings and second in three years. Tan also successfully defended his Big Ten titles on the rings, marking the third straight year a Lion took home the title in that event.
Penn State's eight All-America citations set a school record for All-American honors, besting the six the Lions earned in 1991.
The Lions finished third in the NCAA team competition.
Penn State was the No. 1 team in the country on Jan. 14, earning a No. 1 regular-season ranking for the first time since March 15, 1999.
Kevin Donohue became the first Nittany Lion in 17 years to earn All-America honors in the all-around. He and Kevin Tan combine to earn five All-America honors at the NCAA Championships in Norman, Okla.
The Lions posted its second-straight third place showing at the Big Ten Championships, finishing behind Ohio State and Michigan, while edging out Minnesota. Kevin Donohue becomes the first Nittany Lion since Mike Dutka in 1998 to win multiple Big Ten titles, capturing top honors on high bar and parallel bars. Kevin Tan win the rings crown, making it the second-straight year a Nittany Lion has won the event.
Struggling with consistency, Penn State peaked at the end of the season, posting its best score of the year at the Big Ten Championships in Rec Hall, edging out Illinois for third place. It was the Lions' best finish since a second-place showing in 1998.
The Lions qualified for the NCAA team finals despite a No. 8 seeding and jumped ahead of Michigan State in the final rotation to place fifth overall at the end of the championship.
Chris Lakeman became the 45th Nittany Lion to win an NCAA individual title and the first rings champion since 1991.
Kevin Tan was the first Nittany Lion freshman under Randy Jepson to earn All-America honors, receiving the recognition on rings.
Dominic Brindle added an All-America vault certificate entering the event finals with two to his credit.
Jay Kim performed beyond expectations, leading the charge on the vault team en route to earning All-America status.
Along the way to a No. 3 national ranking the Nittany Lions knocked off two higher-ranked opponents (Ohio State and Oklahoma) and the nation's top all-arounders twice, while winning two major opens (West Point Open, Southwest Cup) and surpassing the 230.00 mark three times.
Penn State stumbled just once during the regular season and finished second to last at the Big Ten Championships.
The Lions saved their best performance for last coming from behind to edge Michigan by 0.125 for an NCAA-record 10th national title, with a school-record 231.975.
Brandon Stefaniak, who was instrumental in the team's rally, successfully defended his individual national crown on the pommel horse, giving Penn State an NCAA-record 44 individual titles.
The Lions posted a fourth-place NCAA finish with a year that was capped by Brandon Stefaniak's pommel horse title. He became the Lions' first NCAA Champion since 1991. Ron Roeder, Eddie Seng and Adam Benas also grabbed All-America honors.
Despite numerous injuries, the Nittany Lions rolled through the 1998 regular season with an 11-3 record (tied for fifth-most wins in school history), including a then-school record 231.150 in a win over Nebraska.
Seemingly rejuvenated by the return of all-arounder Mike Dutka in late February, Penn State entered the postseason poised for a run at a national championship. Behind the strength of Dutka's four individual titles, the Lions nearly won the Big Ten crown, placing second to Iowa by less than a point. However, Dutka went down on vault at the NCAA East Regional with a broken foot. Penn State ended up finishing fourth to the Hawkeyes by .05.
Five Lions still managed to qualify as individuals for the NCAA Championships in the Bryce Jordan Center. Ron Roeder emerged as a star, earning All-America honors on the floor exercise and rings, while Brandon Stefaniak was an All-America on pommel horse with sixth-place finish.
Jepson led a mix of youth and experience to a fifth-place showing at the NCAA Championships. J.M. Michel earned All-America honors on the high bar with a sixth-place finish. Mike Dutka, who Jepson coached at the World Championships over the summer, finished only 0.075 points away from becoming an All-American in the all-around.
The Nittany Lions placed third at both the Big Ten Championships and the NCAA East Regional. During the regular season, Dutka earned a spot on the U.S. Senior National Team at the Winter Cup in February. In addition, captain Joe Roemer became the first Penn State gymnast to ever earn GTE Academic All-America honors, garnering a spot on the second team.
The season ended with the Nittany Lions placing sixth at the NCAA Championships. Joe Roemer tied for third on the floor exercise, earning All-America scholar-athlete recognition for the second-consecutive year.
The Lions placed third at the NCAA East Regional after also finishing the Big Ten Championships in third place. Junior Roy Malka was 10th in the all-
around competition at both events.
Penn State's third-place trophy at the NCAA Championships was the Nittany Lions' top performance under Jepson to date and the best outcome since finishing second in 1991. Two Lions, Tony Pansy and Tom Ellefson, earned All-America honors on the parallel bars.
Jepson's NCAA East Regional Championships came on his home floor. The Lions finished fourth at the Big Ten Championships at Illinois, as Pansy and Lee Ricketts were co-champions on the horizontal bar with 9.80 marks.
The team was recognized for having the 10th-highest team grade point average in the country among men's gymnastics teams. The 3.009 the Nittany Lions carried was the best in the Big Ten and second among teams competing in the NCAA Championships. Furthermore, sophomore Joe Roemer was one of 49 recognized as All-America scholar-athlete.
Capturing third place at both the Big Ten and the NCAA East Regional Championships, the Nittany Lions advanced to the 1994 NCAA Championships, where they finished sixth.
At the 1993 NCAA East Regional, Penn State posted its second-highest score of the season, but was unable to crack the top three in the team standings. Thus, for the first time since 1977, Penn State did not field a team at the NCAA Championships. The school's streak of 15-consecutive appearances in the NCAA meet was the nation's longest entering the season.
Two Nittany Lions represented the program at the NCAA Championships. Senior captain Mike Masucci placed 11th on parallel bars and 16th on pommel horse. Sophomore Joel Neuwirth was 20th on the pommel horse.
The Nittany Lions placed sixth at the Big Ten Championships. Masucci reached the finals on three events, sharing the high bar title with a score of 9.725 and was named All-Big Ten.
As acting head coach during the 1992 season, Jepson directed Penn State to a fifth-place showing at the Big Ten Championships and fourth place in the NCAA East Regional. In the school's 15th-consecutive appearance at the NCAA Championships, Penn State placed seventh.
RANDY JEPSON'S COACHING PHILOSOPHY
Our philosophy for success is simple. Whether it's in the classroom or in the gym, the only way for a student-athlete to reach his full potential is through honest, hard work...a lot of it. The Penn State athletic administration has done an outstanding job over the years in providing our program with the resources, coaching staff, and facilities we need to reach the highest levels of success in our sport both in the NCAA program and in the international arena as well. Additionally, our teams face the nation's stiffest competition year after year to challenge our athletes as they prepare to become the nation's finest gymnasts.
With this foundation to build on, the staff prepares our athletes through the most up-to-date training techniques available. Every year it is our goal to be the strongest and most physically prepared team in the country. Our comprehensive strength and conditioning program has enabled our teams to continually meet this challenge. We also believe that to be on top, our athletes need to perform quality gymnastics and not do just enough to "get by." Therefore, we emphasize skills appropriate for the challenges of today's code of points and continually stress the importance of consistent, solid routine performance.
Academically speaking, our student athletes are provided with a wide variety of resources to ensure that they have every opportunity to experience success in the classroom in addition to the gym. The Morgan Academic Support Center is provided exclusively for Penn State student athletes and offers academic advising, a free tutorial service, priority scheduling, and a Freshman Enrichment Program designed to better enable the first-year student to handle the transitions and academic challenges facing the collegiate freshman athlete. At Penn State, we have built a reputation as a leader in the development of the student athlete and firmly believe that academic and athletic success go hand in hand, are attainable, and are expected.
With all of the various resources available to our student athletes to ensure success the only remaining key is their own commitment, sacrifice, and effort. It is this hard work...and lots of it...that has and will continue to enable them to achieve their academic and competitive dreams.