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Jan. 14, 2012
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Highlighted by a record-setting performance from junior Scott Rosenthal (Clearfield, Pa.), the No. 6 Penn State men's gymnastics team successfully opened the 2012 season with a 349.800-321.600 win over Army on Saturday night at Rec Hall.
Rosenthal, a local Central Pennsylvania product, put the NCAA still rings field on notice by breaking the Penn State FIG scoring-era program record in the event, posting a masterful 16.300. An All-American in the event in 2010, he surpassed the previous benchmark of 16.000, established by Tommy Ramos, a three-time still rings All-American, in 2008.
Despite competing without Felix Aronovich (Kiryat Bialik, Israel), who had not yet returned from London after qualifying for the 2012 Olympics earlier this week, and All-American Miguel Pineda (Galloway, Ohio), Penn State won convincingly, claiming all six events, both as a team and individually.
Junior Mackenzie Dow (Cranford, N.J.) captured titles in two events, placing first in the vault (14.700) and parallel bars (14.900). In addition to Rosenthal and Dow, juniors Parker Raque (Louisville, Ky.) (floor exercise) and Tony Beck (Catasauqua, Pa.) (pommel horse) and sophomore Wasef Burbar (Arlington Heights, Ill.) won events.
Raque, who equaled a career high in winning the floor exercise (15.400), contributed several other solid performances, securing at least a share of third place in three additional events (still rings, vault, and high bar). Beck, who won the pommel horse with a career-high score of 14.900, also placed second in the parallel bars (14.600). An All-American in the high bar as a freshman in 2011, Burbar picked up where he left off, claiming first with a score of 15.200.
Redshirt sophomore Nihir Kothari (Malvern, Pa.) made a statement in the season opener, proving he will be a valuable member of Penn State's powerful still rings line-up in 2012. Lauded by head coach Randy Jepson for his offseason improvement, Kothari placed second in the rings, posting a score .7 higher than his previous career best (15.800).
In his Nittany Lion debut, freshman Matthew Felleman (Medway, Mass.) placed second in the high bar (14.400), third in the floor exercise (14.400), and fifth (tie) in the vault (14.200) and parallel bars (13.600).
Penn State is back in action next weekend, traveling to Ann Arbor for a Big Ten clash with No. 3 Michigan. The Nittany Lions' first road test of the 2012 season is scheduled for a 7 p.m. start on Saturday, Jan. 21 at UM's Cliff Keen Arena. A year ago, Penn State knocked off the then-defending national champion Wolverines, 350.400-346.900, in a dual meet at Rec Hall in the third week of the regular season.