Men's Gymnastics Opens Season with Win over Army
Jan. 13, 2013
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; January 12, 2013 -- A new scoring system will ring higher scores to arenas across the country this season and the Nittany Lions proved that point on Saturday (Jan. 12) evening inside Rec Hall. Penn State scored a 447.850-404.150 victory over Army in the season opener, winning five of the six individual events and tallying the highest team total on all six apparatus.
"This was probably the best first meet I've ever had as a head coach," said Penn State head coach Randy Jepson. "We only missed on five routines tonight. We had three goals entering tonight; stay healthy, have no more than six misses and have no more than two on any one event. We accomplished all three of those goals. Our guys hit (their routines) very solid tonight and they are a little ahead of where I thought they would be in a meet like this.
"I think we needed this kind of meet. We have been training really hard and I know that these guys are going to rise to the challenge when it comes, but you need that carrot in front of you event day and it is hard to be at your best every day (when you're just practicing). I think this is a meet we were well prepared for and this gives us a great start to the season."
The 2012 season will feature the addition of an extra scoring gymnast on each apparatus, moving the scoring competitors from four to five in each event. This change means that event totals and overall team scores will make a serious jump during the 2013 season.
Matt Chelberg (Athens, Ohio) got the Nittany Lions going on the floor exercise when he stepped on the mat and turned in a stellar 15.000 performance to claim the individual crown. Chelberg was the lone athlete to claim a score of in the 15 range, but four other Penn State competitors scored better than 14.000 on the apparatus, pushing the squad out to an early four-point lead.
The pommel horse featured three student-athletes posting scores better than 15.000 and no Nittany Lion scored worse than 14.7000 to extend their overall lead. The event winner came from Army, as Garrek Hojan-Clark came through with a score of 15.400, but PSU took the next five best scores. Felix Aronovich (Kiryat Bialik, Israel) rocked his way to a career-high score of 15.350, while Adrian Evans (Boulder, Colo.) boasted a 15.3000 and Preston Gall (Columbus, Ohio) ended the event with a tally of 15.000. School record holder Craig Hernandez (Libertyville, Ill.) and senior Mackenzie Dow (Cranford, N.J.) each closed with a score of 14.800 and Tony Beck (Catasauqua, Pa.) rounded out the event with a 14.700.
"We were outstanding on pommel horse," said Jepson. "When you look back to when our seniors were freshman, we had potential, but we weren't very solid. It took three years to get us to this point and we can really rock this year. Our guys did a great job tonight."
It was quite the night for freshman Trevor Howard (Columbus, Ohio) as the highly touted rookie claimed a pair of event titles Howard started his night on the rings and posted the event-winning mark of 15.700 as the fourth man up for the Blue and White. He then anchored the lineup on the vault where he edged teammate's Alexis Torres (Catano, Puerto Rico) and Matthew Felleman (Medway, Mass.) for the crown. The winning tally of 15.200 finished just ahead of fellow newcomer Torres' 15.150 and sophomore Felleman's 15.100.
Felleman didn't rest on his runner-up showing on the vault by claiming the final event of the evening with a score of 15.500 on the high bar as the lead performer for the Nittany Lions. On the parallel bars, it was Nestor Rodriguez (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico) that came out with the top performance of the night as the second competitor on the event. Rodriguez finished his routine with a final showing 15.350, just ahead of Aronovich's tally of 15.300.
The next test for the Blue and White will come next weekend on the road at the Navy Open on Sat., Jan. 19. The meet will also feature Navy, Springfield College, Temple and William & Mary and starts at 2 p.m.