No. 2 Men's Gymnastics Begins Title Defense with 358.500-333.600 Victory Over No. 12 Army
Jan. 12, 2008
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The No. 2-ranked Penn State men's gymnastics team successfully negotiated its first obstacle in the quest for the program's 13th and second consecutive national title, soundly defeating No. 12 Army 358.500-333.600 on Saturday night. Prior to the meet, in recognition of Penn State's 2007 NCAA title, the national championship banner was raised to the rafters of Rec Hall in a special ceremony.
As a team and individually, the Nittany Lions won all six events, despite competing without the services of five-time All-American Tommy Ramos (Guaynabo, P.R.). Junior Casey Sandy (Brampton, Ont.) took center stage in the season-opening victory, capturing titles in the floor exercise (15.850), parallel bars (15.600), and high bar (14.900) en route to a win in the all-around (90.750). For his standout efforts, Sandy was honored with the Gene Wettstone Award.
Senior Derek Helsby (Orlando, Fla.) also starred for Penn State, claiming victories in the pommel horse (15.000) and still rings (15.200). Team captain Santiago Lopez (Cibola del Mar, Mex.) was the Nittany Lions' other title-winner, placing first in the vault. He also took third in the parallel bars (14.800).
Redshirt freshman Jason Chu (Los Angeles, Calif.) was impressive in his collegiate debut, earning second place finishes in the vault (15.850) and parallel bars (15.000) and a second place tie with teammate Shaun Antonio (Rio Rancho, N.M.) in the pommel horse (14.300). Sophomore Nick Virbitsky also performed well, placing second in the floor exercise (15.500) and third in the vault (15.800).
Penn State will be back in action next Saturday evening (Jan. 19) when it travels to Ann Arbor, Mich. to take on Big Ten rival and sixth-ranked Michigan in a 7 p.m. dual meet at Cliff Keen Arena. The Nittany Lions will be looking to avenge last season's 216.750-215.800 home loss to the Wolverines; just one of two setbacks suffered by PSU in 2007. Penn State possesses a 16-14 record in its all-time series with Michigan. The conference clash will be aired tape delay by the Big Ten Network on Sat., Jan. 26 at 3 p.m.