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March 18, 2017
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa – The Penn State men’s gymnastics team returned to Rec Hall for battle as it took down Michigan 409.200-405.300 Saturday, March 18.
The Nittany Lions saw one season-best as it closed out the meet with a 68.250 on the parallel bars and had five individual event wins with senior Leroy Clarke, Jr. (Maplewood, N.J.) and freshman Sam Zakutney (Ottawa, Ontario) each earned two event titles and senior Dominic DiFulvio (Marietta, N.Y.) earned the still rings title. Zakutney also picked up the all-around win as the lone competitor.
We had a really good meet today and we started off with a struggle on pommel horse which was unfortunate because we're good there,” stated head coach Randy Jepson. “We hoped to get some distance on Michigan, and that didn't happen. In fact, we were behind in three events. One of the things we've been preaching to this squad is to learn how to put your foot on the throat of your opponent and finish. In the last three events, they did that and came through. I think we only had one miss in the last three events. I was pleased to see that. Especially to finish off the high bar with three good sticks to wrap things up.”
Penn State started strong on the floor exercise as Zakutney won the first floor title of his career, scoring a 14.300, while Chris Sands (Lancaster, Pa.) finished third overall with a career-high 13.800 for the Blue and White. DiFulvio placed sixth overall for the Nittany Lions with a 13.550 on the floor exercise as Penn State led 67.550-65.950 after one complete rotation.
Clarke secured the second victory of the day for Penn State, scoring a 14.250 on the pommel horse for the win and Colin Coates (Emmaus, Pa.) notched his fourth podium finish of the season placing second with a 13.750. Michigan grabbed hold of the lead in the second rotation after some Penn State struggles, 134.000-133.500.
The Blue and White’s individual wins continued into the third rotation as DiFulvio nabbed a 14.400 for his sixth still rings title and his third-straight title in as many weeks. Clarke garnered his second podium finish of the day for the Nittany Lions, placing second with a 14.150 and Sands rounded out the top three spots with a 14.000 and a third-place finish.
Penn State regained the lead, 273.000-271.000, after the vault behind a DiFulvio 14.500, which was good for second overall. Michigan’s Emyre Cole won the event with a 14.900. Zakutney was the next best performer for the Blue and White with a 14.100 and a fifth place finish.
Zakutney put a Nittany Lion back on top of the podium in the fifth rotation, winning his fourth parallel bars title of his career with a 14.200. The Ottawa, Ontario native shared the medal with Michigan’s Anthony McCallum and Clarke placed third overall with a 14.050. Senior Franz Card (Nashua, N.H.) also helped build the Blue and White lead in the fifth rotation, placing fourth with a 13.900, to extend the Penn State lead to 340.950-338.900 with one rotation to go.
Clarke grabbed his second title of the day and fourth podium finish of the afternoon on the high bar, scoring a 14.300 and Zakutney placed third overall with a 13.900. Sophomore Wyatt Tyndall (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan) nabbed the fourth-place finish with a season-best 13.650 and Alex Thomason (Houston, Texas) earned a career-high 13.400 to lift Penn State to a 409.200-405.300 victory.
Zakutney was the lone all-arounder on the day, earning an 82.100 in his sixth all-around competition of the season.
Penn State concludes its 2017 regular season inside the friendly confines of Rec Hall Saturday, March 25 when it welcomes Iowa to town for a rematch. The Nittany Lions and the Hawkeyes will appear live on the Big Ten Network at 3 p.m.