Men's Gymnastics Places Third in Team Finals of National Collegiate Championships
April 21, 2012
NORMAN, Okla. - Penn State finished in third place at the team finals of the 2012 National Collegiate Men's Gymnastics Championships, which were held on Friday evening at Oklahoma's Lloyd Noble Center in Norman. The Nittany Lions recorded a team score of 354.800.
"We fought hard and improved from yesterday and we got a lot of finalists," said Penn State head coach Randy Jepson. "The guys showed some heart. We are still, in some respects, a very young team."
"It's a little disappointing because we knew coming in that we could win. We just had too many misses on key routines today."
Illinois captured the 2012 title, its 10th in program history, stunning the heavily partisan Oklahoma crowd with a winning score of 358.850. The host Sooners placed a close second (357.450). California (fourth, 353.000), defending national champion Stanford (fifth, 352.650), and Michigan (sixth, 351.050) rounded out the Super Six field.
Junior Felix Aronovich (Kiryat Bialik, Israel) earned his first career All-America honor, placing seventh in the all-around with a score of 86.750. His best effort came as the anchor of Penn State's parallel bars line-up, recording a 15.000 to finish tied for eighth.
Freshman Craig Hernandez (Libertyville, Ill.) put together a phenomenal performance for a second consecutive day. He broke his season high in the floor exercise that he set yesterday during the national qualifier, registering a 15.150. In the pommel horse, Hernandez tied his season best, scoring a 15.700 to finish in third place.
"He was outstanding," said Jepson. "Craig rocked both routines on both days. You couldn't ask for anything more. I am thrilled for him."
Highlighting Penn State's finals showing was its performance in the still rings. The Nittany Lions posted the highest score in the field, a 60.600. Junior Scott Rosenthal (Clearfield, Pa.) led the way, earning a score of 15.900 to place first. Redshirt sophomore Nihir Kothari (Malvern, Pa.) tied for eighth (15.000).
Following the still rings, a solid showing in the vault, highlighted by a terrific effort from senior Warren Yang (Nepean, Ont.) (15.100), lifted Penn State to the top of the team standings. However, in similar fashion to Thursday's national qualifier, the next two rotations, featuring the parallel bars and high bar, proved to be trouble for the Nittany Lions.
Sophomore Nestor Rodriguez (Guaynabo, P.R.) stepped to the forefront in the high bar, earning Penn State's top score, a 14.750.
Having fallen to fourth place, the Nittany Lions needed a strong effort in the floor exercise to keep pace and it got just that. In addition to Hernandez, junior Parker Raque (Louisville, Ky.) (15.350) and Yang (15.100) contributed top scores. Penn State's total of 59.950 was its second highest of the season.
Rotating to Penn State's final event, the pommel horse, sophomore Adrian Evans (Boulder, Colo.) broke his career high for a second straight day, leading the line-up off with a score of 15.150. However, three falls hurt the Nittany Lions' chances of moving up in the standings.
With performers that placed in the top 10 in each event tonight qualifying for the individual event finals, Penn State will have seven competitors vying for national title in five events on Saturday evening. Included in that group is Craig Hernandez (floor exercise, pommel horse), Parker Raque (floor exercise), Adrian Evans (pommel horse), Scott Rosenthal (still rings), Nihir Kothari (still rings), Felix Aronovich (parallel bars), and Nestor Rodriguez (high bar). Competition on the final day of the 2012 National Collegiate Men's Gymnastics Championships is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. ET.