No. 3 Men's Gymnastics Edged by No. 2 Oklahoma, 357.850-356.650
March 22, 2008
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - In a tightly contested, back and forth powerhouse clash that came down to the final event, the No. 3 Penn State men's gymnastics team was narrowly edged out by visiting No. 2 Oklahoma, 357.850-356.650, on Saturday evening at Rec Hall. Competing shorthanded, without the services of All-American sophomore Nick Virbitsky (Harrisburg, Pa.) and rising freshman Warren Yang (Nepean, Ont.), the loss was the Nittany Lions' first at home this season.
Penn State won the pommel horse, with a season high team total of 58.200, and the high bar (58.150) but below season average scores on the floor exercise and vault proved costly. Individually, junior Casey Sandy (Brampton, Ont.) dominated the meet, capturing at least a share of three event titles and his sixth all-around crown of the season.
On a night in which five seniors, Derek Helsby (Orlando, Fla.), Vladi Klurman (North Miami Beach, Fla.), Santiago Lopez (Cibola del Mar, Mex.), Tommy Ramos (Guaynabo, P.R.) and Brad Spicer (Fairfax, Va.), were honored for their distinguished careers and considerable contributions to the Penn State program, it was the Nittany Lions' star junior who stole the show. Competing head-to-head against two of the nation's top gymnasts, Oklahoma's Jonathan Horton and Taqiy Abdullah-Simmons, Casey Sandy won the pommel horse (14.900), vault (tie, 16.050), and high bar (14.900) en route to a victory in the all-around (90.650). He also placed third in the still rings (15.050), fifth in the parallel bars (14.700), and sixth in the floor exercise (tie, 15.050).
Sophomore Noam Shaham (Kfar Saba, Israel) also turned in several impressive performances, placing second in the high bar (14.750), third in the floor exercise (tie, 15.350), fourth in the still rings (14.950). His scores in the high bar and the floor exercise were both personal season bests.
Derek Helsby and redshirt freshman Jason Chu (Los Angeles), who was limited to competing in just two events because of an injury, helped Penn State sweep the top three spots in the pommel horse, finishing second and third, respectively. Chu also placed third in the vault (15.750).
The Nittany Lions will return to action in two weeks when six of the nation's top nine teams descend upon Happy Valley and Rec Hall from April 4-5 for the 2008 Big Ten Men's Gymnastics Championships. Penn State, which has hosted the postseason event twice previously, will be seeking its second conference title. On Friday, the 2008 team and all-around champions will be crowned while Saturday's action will feature the individual event finals. Both nights of competition are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m and will be broadcast live by the Big Ten Network.