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April 20, 2018
CHICAGO, Ill. – The Penn State men’s gymnastics team clinched its place in the 2018 NCAA Championships, scoring a 404.790 to finish third in the session II qualifier Friday, April 20 at the UIC Pavilion.
“The main thing is that we got in for another day,” stated head coach Randy Jepson. “I know the guys are excited and they will find a way to get ready. They just need to be steady and trust in their training. They got a little rattled on horse and that was unfortunate but we had some real bright spots and some guys stepped up and that was great. There is nothing to lose tomorrow.”
Sophomore Sam Zakutney (Ottawa, Ontario) was one of the bright spots of the day for the Blue and White as he tied for first overall on the parallel bars with a 14.333 and notched a podium finish in the all-around with a 81.311 to place second and on the high bar, finishing third with a 14.100.
Also tallying a podium finish for the Nittany Lions was redshirt-junior and Elite 90 Award winner Noah Roberson (Williamsville, N.Y.), who placed third on the still rings with a 14.166. Finally, Wyatt Tyndall (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan) placed third on the parallel bars with a 13.300.
Penn State jumped out to the early lead in session II of the NCAA qualifier, scoring a 69.798 on the vault behind a team-best 14.166 from Tyndall, who tied for 11th overall in the competitive field, while Zakutney scored a 14.100 to finish second for the Nittany Lions. Hunter James of Oklahoma won overall vault title with a 14.666.
The Blue and White maintained its lead through two rotations, securing a 68.098 on the parallel bars and a 137.896 overall score. Zakutney paced the team with a 14.333 to tie for first with Ohio State’s Alec Yoder, while Tyndall hit a 14.300 in the second rotation of the evening. Freshman Alex Frack (Nazareth, Pa.) scored a 13.666 to round out the top three scorers for Penn State.
Following the third rotation, it was the Nittany Lions who continued to hold onto the lead as it scored a 66.233 on the high bar behind a third-place 14.100 from Zakutney. Tyson Bull of Illinois took the top spot with a 14.400, while Tyndall tied for 12th with a 13.600.
After four complete rotations, it was Oklahoma who would become the leader at the meet, while Penn State sat in second with a 273.600, scoring a 69.531 on the floor exercise. Freshman Brennan Pantazis (Sparks, Nev.) led the Nittany Lions with a 14.200 and a fourth-place finish and Zakutney tied for sixth overall with a 14.066. Finally, Chris Sands (Lancaster, Pa.) tied for eighth with a 13.933 and Tyndall placed 10th with a 13.766. Sean Melton of Ohio State earned the individual win on the floor with a 14.333.
Penn State fell to third after having a tough time on the pommel horse in the fifth rotation. Sophomore Stephen Nedoroscik (Worcester, Mass.) was the highest finisher for the Blue and White, placing seventh with a 13.800. Junior Michael Burns (Baltimore, Ohio) came in second for the Nittany Lions and Frack rounded out the top three. Brandon Ngai of Illinois paced the field on the horse with a 14.666.
The Blue and White was able to secure the last spot in the NCAA final with a big finish on the still rings in the sixth rotation. Roberson placed third as the last counted scorer of the night for Penn State with a 14.166 and Greg Tamargo (Kennett Square, Pa.) tied for ninth overall with a 13.800. Yul Moldauer of Oklahoma earned the victory on the rings with a session-best 14.700.
With the third-place finish, Penn State will compete against Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Stanford in the 2018 NCAA finals on Saturday, April 21. The quest for the 13th National Championship in Penn State men’s gymnastics history will start at 7 p.m. Eastern.