No. 4 Nittany Lions Post Nation's Highest Score in Win Over No. 6 Minnesota

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Junior Parker Raque captured the floor exercise and vault titles in the win over Minnesota

Junior Parker Raque captured the floor exercise and vault titles in the win over Minnesota

March 17, 2012


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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The fourth-ranked Penn State men's gymnastics team gave the 2,400-plus fans that packed Rec Hall on Saturday a night to remember, as the Nittany Lions established two program records and registered the nation's highest score in a decisive 359.300-347.900 victory over No. 6 Minnesota.

Penn State's team total surpassed the previous season high of 357.050 held by No. 1 Oklahoma by over two points and ranks third in the Nittany Lion record book (in the FIG scoring era). For the second time this year, Penn State broke the program record in the pommel horse (59.900) and still rings (62.400).

In the victory, which was Penn State's third straight over a Big Ten opponent, the Nittany Lions won all six events as a team, setting season highs in five of them. Penn State also captured individual titles in every event, led by junior Parker Raque (Louisville, Ky.), who placed first in the floor exercise (15.800) and vault (15.100).

Junior Felix Aronovich (Kiryat Bialik) put on a phenomenal performance, claiming the all-around with a score of 89.400, easily topping his previous career high of 87.150. He posted career bests in three events (floor exercise, pommel horse, still rings) and earned a share of the parallel bars title en route to the nation's fourth-highest all-around score this season. For his standout efforts, Aronovich was honored with the meet's Gene Wettstone Award.

Other Penn State event winners included freshman Craig Hernandez (Libertyville, Ill.) (pommel horse), junior Scott Rosenthal (Clearfield, Pa.) (still rings), and sophomore Wasef Burbar (Arlington Heights, Ill.) (high bar).

Penn State's first rotation was a harbinger of things to come, as all six floor exercise competitors either tied or set career high scores. Raque's winning score of 15.800 improved upon his previous personal best by .4 of a point. Junior Matt Chelberg (Athens, Ohio) tied for second place with a score of 15.100.

The Nittany Lions remained locked in throughout the next two rotations, following their floor exercise effort with back-to-back impressive performances in the pommel horse and still rings. Behind Hernandez's winning pommel horse score of 15.600, Aronovich placed second (15.100) and sophomore Preston Gall (Columbus, Ohio) (14.800) took third. Rosenthal secured his sixth still rings title of the season with a score of 15.900 and was followed in the standings by four teammates, senior Miguel Pineda (Galloway, Ohio) (15.700), Raque (15.500), redshirt sophomore Nihir Kothari (Malvern, Pa.) (15.300), and Aronovich (15.300).

Kothari was also key to Penn State's fortunes in the parallel bars, placing third with a score that surpassed his previous career best by .7 of a point (14.700). Senior Warren Yang (Nepean, Ont.) shined in his penultimate home appearance, tying a career high in the high bar (14.800) to share second place with Aronovich.

Among those in attendance on Saturday were some 50 Penn State alums, including past Nissen-Emery winners Spider Maxwell, Matt Cohen, and Casey Sandy. The Penn State-Minnesota meet was the centerpiece of an alumni reunion which gathered together Nittany Lions from seven decades.

Penn State will remain at home next weekend, facing No. 10 Temple in the team's 2012 regular season finale. The Nittany Lions will host the Owls on Saturday, March 24 in Rec Hall, with competition scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. For seniors Colin Hill (Sterling, Mass.), Miguel Pineda, Logan Wyman (Phoenix, Md.), and Warren Yang, it will be their final home appearance in a Nittany Lion uniform. They will be honored in a special Senior Night ceremony following the meet.

 

 

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