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March 4, 2017
LINCOLN, Neb. – The Penn State men’s gymnastics team fell to both Iowa and Nebraska in a Big Ten Conference tri-meet hosted by the Cornhuskers Saturday, March 4. Nebraska picked up the victory with a 418.350, while Iowa came in second with a 413.500 and the Nittany Lions scored a 409.600.
The Blue and White saw two season-high scores, notching a 70.650 on the floor exercise and a 71.900 on the vault, while two Nittany Lions took home individual event titles. Senior Dominic DiFulvio (Marietta, N.Y.) tallied his fifth still rings title of the season and redshirt-senior Leroy Clarke, Jr. (Maplewood, N.J.) earned his first parallel bars victory of the year.
Senior Christian McSwain (Jamestown, Pa.) and freshman Sam Zakutney (Ottawa, Ontario) earned matching 14.600s on the floor exercise to take over as the top individual performers in the event this season, while DiFulvio’s 14.900 bests his previous team-high score of 14.750 on the still rings. Furthermore, the Blue and White saw four career-bests and five season-best performances in the tri-meet.
“We certainly did not perform up to our standards today,” noted head coach Randy Jepson. “We should have been much better than we were but unfortunately we weren’t and we were bested by two other Big Ten teams. We beat ourselves today unfortunately. The guys that had a strong meet get that credit and we have to get ready for Iowa again. We have to climb back in and get back at it, put the gloves on and get to it.”
Freshman Stephen Nedoroscik (Worcester, Mass.) led Penn State on the pommel horse, earning a 14.400 in the event for a second-place finish, while Clarke tied for eighth overall with a 13.750. Antonio Castro of Nebraska earned the victory on the pommel horse with a 14.700 on the day. As a team, the Blue and White scored a 67.800 to sit in third after the first rotation.
DiFulvio earned his fifth still rings title of the season and his second-straight win, notching a season-high 14.900 to lead the Nittany Lions. Zakutney placed fifth overall with a career-high 13.900 and Chris Sands (Lancaster, Pa.) rounded out the top three for Penn State with a 13.300.
The Nittany Lions put on a show on the floor, scoring a season-high 70.650 behind matching 14.600s from McSwain and Zakutney. The scores were good enough to tie for second overall with Kyle King of Nebraska barely edging the duo out with a 14.650 in the win. The 14.600 marked the second career-high of the day for Zakutney and was a season-high for McSwain.
Clarke tallied the second individual event win of the day for Penn State, scoring a season-high 14.800 on the parallel bars. The win on the parallel bars marked the first of the season for Clarke, while Zakutney placed fifth overall with a 14.100 and freshman Favian Valdez (Kearny, N.J.) followed right behind with a 13.900 and a sixth-place finish.
Iowa and Nebraska took the top eight spots on the high bar and Franz Card (Nashua, N.H.) scored a team-high 13.400 in the event to place ninth overall. Valdez came in second for the Nittany Lions with a 13.100 as the team scored a 63.000 in the fifth rotation of the night.
Needing to make up ground in the final rotation, Penn State pulled out a season-high 71.900 on the vault behind a fourth-place finish from DiFulvio, who scored a season-high 14.600. Valdez placed fifth overall with a career-high 14.450 and Zakutney finished sixth overall with a career-high 14.400. The scores would not be enough to lift Penn State ahead of its two opponents as it placed third overall at the Big Ten tri-meet.
Finally, Valdez and Zakutney both represented the Nittany Lions in the all-around, earning 81.100 and 80.400, respectively.
The Nittany Lions will take a week off before returning to Rec Hall for its final two regular season duals. Penn State will first meet up with Iowa Saturday, March 18 for a 2:30 p.m. meet that will be featured on the Big Ten Network.