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WEST POINT, N.Y. – Freshman Stephen Nedoroscik became the 54th Penn State men’s gymnast to earn an individual NCAA National Championship as he captured the pommel horse title inside the Halledar Center on the campus of Army West Point Saturday, April 22.
The Worcester, Mass. was the first competitor of the night on the apparatus and held onto the lead the entire championship, scoring a career-high 14.900. “This was the most nerve-racking thing of my life, watching the best gymnasts in the nation compete after me,” stated Nedoroscik.
Nedoroscik is the 10th Nittany Lion to earn the pommel horse title and the first since Luis Vargas earned the victory in the 2005 season. Furthermore, the freshman pommel horse specialist is the third freshman to capture an individual NCAA event title in the last five years and only the fourth-ever Penn State men’s gymnast to earn an individual event title. Nedoroscik joins the company of Mark Sohn (1988 pommel horse), Trevor Howard (2013 floor exercise) and Thad Lawson (2015 floor exercise) as the only four Penn State freshman men’s gymnasts to earn individual event titles.
“This is amazing, it is the best feeling in the world,” noted Nedoroscik.
In addition to Nedoroscik, senior Leroy Clarke, Jr. (Maplewood, N.J.) and freshman Sam Zakutney (Ottawa, Ontario) earned All-American honors for Penn State. Clarke notched the third All-American nod of his career finishing eighth overall on the pommel horse with a 14.500, while Zakutney finished fifth overall on the parallel bars with a 14.800.
“It was a great finish tonight,” said Randy Jepson. “We struggled a little bit yesterday but this was a great way to finish strong and give us momentum into next year with three All-Americans and a National Champion.”
Senior Dominic DiFulvio (Marietta, N.Y.) closed out his collegiate career competing on both the floor exercise and vault in the finals. DiFulvio notched a 14.400 on the vault in his final routine donning the Blue and White. Senior Franz Card (Nashua, N.H.) also finished his career as a Nittany Lion competing on the high bar in the individual event finals with a 13.400. Sophomore Chris Sands (Lancaster, Pa.) competed in his first finals as an individual with a 13.800 on the still rings.
Along with his All-American finish, Zakutney competed in the all-around and scored an 80.200 representing the Nittany Lions.
With the three All-American citations Saturday night, the Nittany Lions have now garnered 319 All-America citations since 1938.