No. 6 Men's Gymnastics Hosts Army in 2012 Season Opener
Jan. 12, 2012
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State men's gymnastics team will open the 2012 campaign on Saturday evening when it hosts No. 14 Army at Rec Hall. The dual meet is scheduled for a 7 p.m. start.
The Nittany Lions are ranked No. 6 in the national GymInfo Preseason Coaches' Poll and have been selected to place third in the Big Ten in 2012 by a vote of the conference coaches.
Twenty-one year veteran head coach Randy Jepson returns 15 letterwinners, including All-Americans Miguel Pineda (Galloway, Ohio) (still rings), Parker Raque (Louisville, Ky.) (floor exercise, vault), Scott Rosenthal (Clearfield, Pa.) (still rings), and Wasef Burbar (Arlington Heights, Ill.) (high bar), from last year's team that placed sixth at the National Collegiate Championships. Also expected to figure prominently in the Nittany Lions' fortunes in 2012 are Felix Aronovich (Kiryat Bialik, Israel), who recently qualified as an individual for the London Olympics, Warren Yang (Nepean, Ont.), a former member of the Canadian National Team, and Mackenzie Dow (Cranford, N.J.), among others. A talented three-member freshman class could also prove to be factors this season.
As it was last year, Penn State will be one of the nation's dominant squads in the still rings in 2012. With two All-Americans on the roster and ample depth, the Nittany Lions will have a decided advantage over most opponents in the event. Thanks to a collection of returning regular contributors, along with the addition of a strong group of newcomers, Penn State will also be solid in the floor exercise and pommel horse. The Nittany Lions show great potential in the vault and are improving in the parallel bars and high bar.
"I think we are going to be a markedly improved team from last year," said Jepson. "Obviously, we are getting to the point where our young guys are upperclassmen and that experience is going to pay off. I think we are going to be a more consistent team than we have been in past years. They have worked very, very hard and are the most physically fit team I have ever had. We have a couple of weaker of events, but we are not weak and I think we can keep pace."
Army returns 12 veterans from a 2011 team that placed sixth at the ECAC/EIGL Championships and welcomes five newcomers to West Point for the 2012 season. Team captain Jonathan Hoey, a two-time NCAA qualifier in the high bar, junior Garrek Hojan-Clark, the reigning ECAC pommel horse champion, Chase Brown, a USAG All-American in the floor exercise, and Ikaika Jakub, an NCAA qualifier in the all-around in 2011, will form the nucleus of head coach Doug Van Everen's Black Knights squad.
Penn State has compiled a 51-18-1 record in its all-time regular season series with 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 10 years, posting an unblemished 10-0 record, including last season's 343.300-319.100 victory in Rec Hall. Penn State would go on to claim two more wins over Army in 2011, topping the Black Knights at the West Point Open (347.000-320.000) and in a tri-meet at Temple (351.800-259.500).
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.
Penn State is back in action next weekend, traveling to Ann Arbor for a Big Ten clash with No. 3 Michigan. The Nittany Lions' first road test of the 2012 season is scheduled for a 7 p.m. start on Saturday, Jan. 21 at UM's Cliff Keen Arena. A year ago, Penn State knocked off the then-defending national champion Wolverines, 350.400-346.900, in a dual meet at Rec Hall in the third week of the regular season.