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Jan. 14, 2013
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; January 14, 2013 -- When you head coach tells the media that it was the best first meet he has seen in his 22 years, you know that there were a lot of great performances and the Big Ten Conference honored two of the Penn State gymnasts with the Gymnast and Freshman of the Week honors. Felix Aronovich (Kiryat Bialik, Israel) earned his sixth career Big Ten Gymnast of the Week honor and Trevor Howard (Columbus, Ohio) was named the conferences Freshman of the Week following a stellar performance in the No. 4 Nittany Lions season opening win over Army.
Just five months after representing his home country of Israel at the XXX Olympiad in London, Aronovich began his senior campaign by claiming the Gene Wettstone Gymnast of the Meet award after tying for the individual title on the high bar and placing second on four other apparatus. The senior set three career-highs in winning the first Big Ten weekly honor of the season. Aronovich tied for the individual title on the high bar with teammate Matthew Felleman (Medway, Mass.), scoring a career-best 15.500. He placed second on the floor exercise (14.550), pommel horse (15.350), still rings (15.350) and parallel bars (15.300), setter personal-bests on the pommel and rings.
Aronovich claimed the Big Ten's top weekly honor three times in 2012 and once each in 2011 and 2010, while also having three freshman of the week awards in his trophy case. A first team All-Big Ten award winners last season, he placed seventh in the all-around at the NCAA Championships to earn All-America honors.
Howard competed in three events vs. the Black Knights in the season opener and brought home two individual titles and finished third to a pair of teammates in his final event to post the top showing for a rookie in the Big Ten. It's not often that a rookie can step onto the scene and win in his first career competition and it's even rarer that they win their first two, but Howard ran away with the still rings crown vs. Army in his initial collegiate event and then edged the competition on the vault.
Howard posted a score of 15.700 on the still rings, which included a two-tenths stick bonus for his stick landing on the event, and then vaulted his way to a 15.200 score to win the event .On the parallel bars, Howard claimed third place behind event winner Nestor Rodriguez (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico) and Aronovich with a score of 15.200.
Penn State has had the gymnast and freshman of the week in the Big Ten six times since the conference started issuing two awards in 2010 - including four that included co-gymnast of the week honors - and swept the honors for the first time since Scott Rosenthal (Clearfield, Pa.) and Tristan Duverglas (West Orange, N.J.) did so on Feb. 27, 2011.
The next test for the Blue and White will come next weekend on the road at the Navy Open on Sat., Jan. 19. The meet will also feature Navy, Springfield College, Temple and William & Mary and starts at 2 p.m.