Nittany Lions Visit Michigan for Battle of Men's Gymnastics Powers
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; January 20, 2006 - The eighth-ranked Penn State men's gymnastics team will face its sternest challenge of the young 2006 season when it faces No. 4 Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich. in a dual meet on Sat., Jan. 21 at 7:30 p.m. After opening the year versus two Eastern Intercollegiate Gymnastics League teams, the Michigan meet will be the Nittany Lions' first of two against Big Ten opponents this season.
A year ago, individual event wins by Luis Vargas, Chad Buczek (Bridgewater, Mass.), and Tommy Ramos (Guaynabo, P.R.) lifted Penn State to a 222.600-219.575 home victory over the Wolverines. The Nittany Lions hold a slight 15-13 edge over Michigan in an all-time series that began in 1959.
In its last outing, Penn State was victorious, knocking off Temple, 202.450-190.050, in a dual meet at Rec Hall on Fri., Jan. 13. Coming off a performance versus Army that earned him Big Ten Men's Gymnast of the Week honors, freshman Casey Sandy (Brampton, Ont.) shined again, winning the pommel horse, the parallel bars, and the high bar en route to his second-consecutive all-around victory.
Sophomore Vladi Klurman (North Miami Beach, Fla.) had his best performance of his collegiate career, placing first in the rings and second in the pommel horse and the all-around. He also established a new career high in the vault, receiving a 9.100 to capture third place. Chad Buczek contributed a win in the floor exercise and All-American Santiago Lopez (Cibola del Mar, Mex.) took first in the vault with an impressive 9.500 effort.
After two competitions, Penn State holds a prominent place in the national rankings, both as a team and individually. The Nittany Lions are ranked No. 1 in the nation on the pommel horse with a team average of 34.625, No. 3 in the vault (36.550), and No. 5 on the parallel bars (33.675). As an individual, Casey Sandy ranks third on the pommel horse (9.175) and fourth in the all-around (52.650). Santiago Lopez is slotted at No. 3 in the vault with a 9.500 average, just .050 off the No. 1 spot shared by two gymnasts.
Michigan opened the 2006 season last weekend with a third place finish at the Windy City Invitational, behind Big Ten foes Ohio State and Illinois. Senior Gerry Signorelli placed third on floor (9.35) and fourth on high bar (9.1) and freshman Joe Catrambone placed fourth in the all-around (50.30) to guide the Wolverines to their fifth consecutive third place showing at the 36th annual invite. Signorelli is ranked third nationally in the floor exercise and tied for fifth in the high bar. As a team, Michigan's top event is the floor exercise, evident by its No. 2 national ranking.
Penn State is back in action next weekend when it returns to West Point, N.Y. to participate in the prestigious West Point Open, the largest and highest level gymnastics competition in the East featuring U.S. National Team members, NCAA champions, and NCAA All-Americans. On Fri. and Sat., Jan. 27-28, the Nittany Lions will compete against some of the nation's top men's gymnasts from James Madison, M.I.T., Navy, Springfield, and Temple. Penn State has a tradition of success at the meet, as it has captured eight-consecutive West Point Open titles.
For more information on Nittany Lion men's gymnastics, visit the official website of Penn State athletics at www.GoPSUsports.com.