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Jan. 11, 2013
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; January 11, 2013 -- For the 11th straight season, the Penn State men's gymnastics team will open their season against Army. The two nationally ranked squads will take to the floor inside Rec Hall on Saturday (Jan. 12) starting at 7 p.m.
The Nittany Lions enter the season-opener ranked No. 4 in the national GymInfo Preseason Coaches' Poll and have been picked to finish third in the Big Ten Conference by a vote of the conference coaches. The Black Knights enter the year as the No. 13 ranked team in the GymInfo poll.
Head coach Randy Jepson enters his 22nd season at the helm of the Nittany Lion program and will return 15 letterwinners for the 2013 season. Of the 15 returning competitors, seven earned All-America accolades. Jepson brings back 2012 Olympian Felix Aronovich (Kiryat Bialik, Israel), who earned All-America honors in the all-around and on the parallel bars. A pair of runner-up showings at the NCAA Championships earned Scott Rosenthal (Clearfield, Pa.) the honor on the still rings and Craig Hernandez (Libertyville, Ill.) his first All-America selection on the pommel horse. Parker Raque (Louisville, Ky.) on the floor exercise, Adrian Evans on the pommel horse, Nihir Kothari (Malvern, Pa.) on the still rings and Néstor Rodríguez (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico) on the high bar were also honored with All-American honors in 2012.
The senior class brings a wealth of knowledge and competition experience to the 2013 roster and looks to improve upon their third place showing from last year's NCAA Championships. The seven senior include Aronovich, Tony Beck (Catasauqua, Pa.), Matt Chelberg (Athens, Ohio), Mackenzie Dow (Cranford, N.J.), Kothari, Raque and Rosenthal and will perform in front of their home crowd five times in 2013, including hosting the NCAA Championships from April 19-21.
The two storied programs will meet for the 73rd time in the gymnasium and Penn State owns a 53-18-1 overall record vs. Army. The Nittany Lions have faced the Black Knights in either dual meet or open competition to begin the season in each of the past 11 years, posting an unblemished record, including last season's 349.800-321.600 victory in Rec Hall. The Nittany Lions also claimed a victory over the Black Knights at the West Point Open, winning by a score of 352.000-326.200.
After setting the school record for team score on the still rings and pommel horse the Nittany Lions are expected to have another strong campaign in both events. Rosenthal set the school record on the still rings with a score of 16.300 at Springfield College and in the season opener vs. Army. On the pommel horse, Hernandez quickly wrote his name among the top gymnasts in the country. The freshman equaled the school standard of 15.650 in his second competition of the season before compiling a score of 15.700 vs. Temple and at the NCAA Championships to etch his name atop the record books on the apparatus.
Eleven letterwinners return for the Black Knights in 2013, including Ikaika Jakub, the 2013 team captain, Garrek Hojan-Clark, the school record holder in the pommel horse, and Alex Ganz, the lone returning all-arounder. Last season, Hojan-Clark boasted a score of 15.400 on the pommel horse to set the school record in the event and qualified for the NCAA Championships for the third straight season on the apparatus. Seven of the nine student-athletes that qualified for the NCAA Championships last season for Army return, including sophomores Ganz, Jeremy Cahill and Mike Tserkovnyuk. Seniors Hojan-Clark, Jakub and Jared Breeden each qualified for the NCAA last year and return to add experience to the lineup for head coach Doug Van Everen, who enters his 23rd year at West Point.
Fans can follow all of the action of the Penn State-Army dual on the Internet with live scoring updates or with a live video webcast from Rec Hall. Find links on the official website of Nittany Lion athletics, www.GoPSUsports.com.