No. 5 Men¡¯s Gymnastics Faces First Road Challenge at Temple Invitational
The Nittany Lions began the 2007 season in triumphant fashion last weekend, soundly defeating Army in front of 3,128 fans at Rec Hall, 214.200-192.650. Penn State not only placed first in each event individually but took the top three or four spots in all six events. The Lions team score was over seven points higher than their total attained in the 2006 season opener and was the highest score in the nation through the first week of 2007 regular season competition.
Senior captain Matt Cohen (Agoura Hills, Calif.) led the Lions, winning the rings with a score of 9.500 en route to capturing the all-around title. He also placed second on the vault (8.700) and third on the high bar (9.000) and floor exercise (8.750). For his performance, Cohen was honored with the Gene Wettstone Award for Most Outstanding Gymnast of the meet.
Freshman Nick Virbitsky (Harrisburg, Pa.) (floor exercise, vault), sophomore Casey Sandy (pommel horse), and juniors Vladi Klurman (North Miami Beach, Fla.) (parallel bars) and Tommy Ramos (Guaynabo, P.R.) (parallel bars, high bar) also won individual titles in the victory.
Temple finished the 2006 season strong, and with minimal losses from the roster, the Owls look to be the favorite to take the ECAC-EIGL crown in 2007. All-arounders Sterling Kramer and Luke Vexler are Temple¡¯s top competitors. William & Mary was hit hard by graduation losses but Aaron Ingram (all-around), David Locke (vault, floor exercise, all-around), and Andrew Hunt (parallel bars, high bar) return to lead the Tribe. James Madison, which has announced it will drop its men¡¯s gymnastics program after the 2007 season, is headlined by pommel horse performer Stirling Van Winkle.
Penn State possesses an 89-11 combined all-time record against this weekend¡¯s three opponents, including undefeated marks against William & Mary (11-0) and the James Madison (9-0). A year ago, the Nittany Lions defeated Temple (202.450-190.050) and William & Mary (213.550-205.100) in home dual meets and topped James Madison (206.750-171.050) at the West Point Open.
After a short week of practice and preparation, Penn State will return to the road, traveling to upstate New York for the annual West Point Open, hosted by the United States Military Academy. The Nittany Lions will be seeking their tenth consecutive West Point Open title when they take on some of the east¡¯s top teams on Fri.-Sat., Jan. 26-27. The team competition is scheduled for Friday with the individual events finals to be held on Saturday. Both competitions are set for 7 p.m. at the home of the Black Knights, the Holleder Center.
For more information on Nittany Lion men's gymnastics, visit the official website of Penn State athletics at www.GoPSUsports.com.