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April 21, 2017
WEST POINT, N.Y. – The Penn State men’s gymnastics team saw its 2017 season come to an early close, finishing fourth in the NCAA Session I Qualifier with a 410.500 and narrowly missing out on the team championships Friday, April 21 at the Holledar Center.
Despite not making the team championships, six individuals will compete for an individual event title Saturday, April 22 at 7 p.m. The six qualifying individuals include Sam Zakutney (all-around), Dominic DiFulvio (floor exercise and vault), Stephen Nedoroscik (pommel horse), Leroy Clarke, Jr. (pommel horse and parallel bars), Chris Sands (still rings) and Franz Card (high bar). With its six individual qualifiers, Penn State will be represented on all six apparatus at tomorrow’s individual event championship.
“I knew it was going to be a very close meet and a hard-fought qualification,” commented head coach Randy Jepson. We fell short unfortunately but we do have some individual qualifiers. It is an uncomfortable feeling but hopefully its building for the future.”
The Cardinal of Stanford took the top spot in the session I qualifier with a 420.450, while Ohio State came in second with a 414.650 and Nebraska would earn the final spot with a 413.050.
The Blue and White found its groove in the first rotation when Clarke hit his set to tie for second on the parallel bars with a 14.500 and Zakutney came in a tie for seventh overall with a 14.300. DiFulvio closed out the top three for Penn State with a 13.700 and Card put up a 13.350 for Penn State. As a team, the Nittany Lions closed out the first rotation with a 67.650.
Card paced PSU on the parallel bars, earning a 13.650 after a stuck landing and placing in a tie for 11th overall. Sophomore Wyatt Tyndall (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan) followed Card with a 13.450 in the second rotation of the afternoon and Clarke picked up a 13.250 for the Blue and White as it notched a 65.700 overall score on the high bar.
After a slow start in the first two rotations for Penn State, Tyndall and Sands lifted the team with strong starts on the floor exercise, earning matching 14.000s as the first two competitors in the rotation. DiFulvio led the Nittany Lion squad with a 14.100 to tie for sixth overall in the event.
Nedoroscik put himself into the first-place spot after four complete rotations on the pommel horse, tying a career-high 14.800 and eventually winning the event in the first session. Colin Coates (Emmaus, Pa.) also had a solid performance for the Blue and White on the pommel horse with a 14.050, placing him 10th overall, while Clarke nabbed a 14.100 on the horse.
Sands put up a huge routine on the still rings for the Nittany Lions with a team-high 13.950 to finish eighth overall and DiFulvio was just .100 shy of Sands with a 13.850 to tie for 12th overall. Clarke rounded out the top three for the NIttany Lions with a 13.550, while Noah Roberson (Williamsville, N.Y.) notched a 13.100.
Needing to jump two spots in the final rotation, DiFulvio put the team on his back and scored a 14.400 on the vault to tie for seventh overall and qualify for the individual event finals, while Jeremy Munn (York, Maine) notched a 14.200 in his final collegiate event. The Blue and White put up its highest event score of the day with a 70.500 but the score was not enough to lift them into the third-place spot.
The six qualifying Nittany Lions will close out their 2017 season Saturday, April 22 with the finals starting at 7 p.m.