No. 2 Men's Gymnastics to Host No. 12 Army in 2008 Season Opener
Jan. 11, 2008
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State men's gymnastics team will begin defense of its 2007 national championship at 7 p.m. on Sat., Jan. 12 when the Nittany Lions welcome Army to Rec Hall for a season-opening dual. Prior to the meet, in recognition of its 2007 title, Penn State's 12th championship banner will be raised to the rafters of Rec Hall in a special ceremony.
Entering his 17th season at the helm of the Penn State program, Randy Jepson, the 2007 National Coach of the Year, returns all but two regular contributors from last season's title-winning squad, including six All-Americans in seniors Derek Helsby (Orlando, Fla.), Vladi Klurman (North Miami Beach, Fla.), Santiago Lopez (Cibola del Mar, Mex.), Tommy Ramos (Guaynabo, P.R.), junior Casey Sandy (Brampton, Ont.), and sophomore Nick Virbitsky (Harrisburg, Pa.). Lopez will serve as team captain for the 2007 season.
Penn State was selected by the conference coaches as the Big Ten favorite in 2008 in their annual preseason poll released earlier this week. Tommy Ramos and Casey Sandy were also named to the 12-member Preseason All-Big Ten team. The Nittany Lions are ranked No. 2 in the national GymInfo Preseason Coaches Poll, receiving four of a possible 15 first place votes. Stanford enters the season as the No. 1-ranked team in the nation, after placing third at the 2007 National Collegiate Championships.
A year ago, veteran Army head coach Doug Van Everen guided the Black Knights to a 9-3 mark, a seventh-straight All-Academy Championship, an Eastern individual champion, and a team berth to the National Collegiate Championships. However, this will be a rebuilding year for 12th-ranked Army, as three former Eastern champions were lost to graduation. Senior Tyler Ho, the team captain for the 2007 season, and classmate Mike Assenmacher, the Black Knights' top all-arounder, headline the list of returnees.
The Nittany Lions own a 43-18-1 record all-time against Army, including two victories over the Black Knights last year. Penn State began the 2007 season with a 214.200-192.650 victory over Army in Rec Hall and, two weeks later, claimed another win as part of the West Point Open.
Fans can follow all of the action of the Penn State-Army dual on the Internet with live scoring updates or with live video with the first-ever gymnastics webcast from Rec Hall. Click on the "gametrack PSU" link on the official website of Nittany Lion athletics, www.GoPSUsports.com, to gain access.
Fans attending the meet should be aware that the NCAA has adopted a new scoring system starting this season. All NCAA men's gymnastics events will now be judged based on the international scoring system used in the Olympics. Download a helpful instructional handout titled "How to Follow the New NCAA Scoring System" by clicking on the link at the top of this release.
Penn State will be back in action next Saturday evening (Jan. 19) when it travels to Ann Arbor, Mich. to take on Big Ten rival and sixth-ranked Michigan in a 7 p.m. dual meet. The Nittany Lions will be looking to avenge last season's 216.750-215.800 home loss to the Wolverines; just one of two setbacks suffered by PSU in 2007. Penn State possesses a 16-14 record in its all-time series with Michigan. The conference clash will be aired tape delay by the Big Ten Network on Sat., Jan. 26 at 3 p.m.