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January 27, 2018
The Nittany Lions notched season-best scores on the floor exercise (70.800) and the parallel bars (69.850), while three individuals saw career-high scores on the day. Freshmen Alex Frack (Nazareth, Pa.) and Brennan Pantazis (Sparks, Nev.) each recorded career-highs on the day as Frack bested his score on the parallel bars with a 14.000 and Pantazis garnered a 14.350 on the floor exercise for a career-high score.
Also seeing a career-best for the Blue and White was junior Chris Sands (Lancaster, Pa.), who earned a 14.300 on the floor exercise and also competed on the parallel bars for the first time in his career, scoring a 13.100. Finally, the Nittany Lions saw one event victor on the day in sophomore Sam Zakutney (Ottawa, Ontario), who won both the parallel bars and all-around title.
“Rough night for the Nittany Lions tonight,” said head coach Randy Jepson. “We are a much better team than we showed tonight. We struggled on horse and opened the door. Illinois ran through it. We had a terrific meet, so certainly our hats are off to Illinois for coming into Penn State and having a really sound meet and a victory. We’ve got, obviously, some things to correct, and we’ll focus on it. We’ll do that.”
Penn State got out to the early lead in the first rotation, scoring a season-best 70.800 to kick off the afternoon. The Fighting Illini claimed the top three spots, while Wyatt Tyndall (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan) and Pantazis tied for fourth overall with matching 14.350s. Sands claimed the sixth spot with a career-best 14.300 to round out the top three scorers for the Blue and White.
Illinois would take the lead over Penn State in the second rotation 136.300-133.850 behind an event victory from Brandon Ngai, who notched a 14.550. The Fighting Illini also earned the second-place finish as Harry McLellan garnered a 13.500. Sophomore Stephen Nedoroscik (Worcester, Mass.) was the top finisher for Penn State, earning the third-place finish with a 13.250, while Jack Baldwin (Mexico, N.Y.) placed fourth with a 12.750.
The Fighting Illini maintained their lead after three complete rotations as Sands was the top finisher for the Blue and White, placing third with a season-best 14.050. Illinois’s Alex Diab earned his second title of the afternoon with a 14.700 and Bobby Baker placed second for the Fighting Illini on the still rings. Following Sands, Greg Tamargo (Kennett Square, Pa.) came in fifth overall with a 13.800.
Moving into the fourth rotation, Illinois claimed the top four spots with Tamargo pacing the Blue and White with a tie for fifth, scoring a season-best 13.950 on the vault. The Fighting Illini extended their lead to 278.450-270.250 with two rotations remaining in the meet.
Zakutney picked up the lone event victory of the day on the parallel bars, scoring a 14.450, while Tyndall placed second with a 14.150. Frack also came in fourth overall and Pantazis earned the fifth-place finish for the Blue and White. As a team, Penn State notched a season-best 69.850.
The Nittany Lions were unable to make up the deficit in the final rotation as Tyson Bull earned the event victory and Zakutney placed second with a 14.450. Michael Burns (Baltimore, Ohio) was the second finisher for the Blue and White with a sixth-place spot, while Sands placed seventh.
Zakutney was the lone competitor in the all-around, earning his second 80-or-better of the season with an 80.700.
The Nittany Lions will have a bye week before heading to Columbus, Ohio for its first road Big Ten Conference meet against the Buckeyes of Ohio State on Friday, Feb. 9 at 6 p.m.