No. 3 Men's Gymnastics Hosts No. 2 Michigan in Showdown of Big Ten Powers
Jan. 21, 2009
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The No. 3-ranked and defending Big Ten Champion Penn State men's gymnastics team will face its first conference test of the 2009 season on Saturday evening when it welcomes powerhouse rival No. 2 Michigan to Rec Hall. The meet, which will also feature the No. 22 Nittany Lion women's gymnastics squad taking on Michigan State, is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.
Penn State, which was recently selected to place fourth in the Big Ten in the coaches' preseason poll, is coming off a first place finish at the 2009 West Point Open, its 11th consecutive title at the annual competition hosted by Army. The Nittany Lions dominated the field, winning all six events individually and as a team. Freshman Miguel Pineda (Galloway, Ohio) starred for Penn State, capturing his second straight still rings title (14.500) and the first all-around crown (84.700) of his career, helping the Lions to a team score of 345.200. Senior Casey Sandy (Brampton, Ont.) placed in the top four in each of the four events he completed, including a title win in the parallel bars (14.950). He followed it up with a victory in the pommel horse in the individual event finals, posting a season high score of 15.000.
In the first national rankings released on Jan. 19, Penn State held an elite position after two meets. As a team, the Nittany Lions are ranked in the top five in five of six events, including the No. 2 spot in the vault, averaging a score of 62.675. They are ranked No. 8 in the still rings but have yet to receive contributions from All-America candidate Josh Borromeo (Littlestown, Pa.), who has been sidelined while nursing a biceps injury. In total, individually, Penn State has eight gymnasts ranked in the top 20 in the six events, led by Casey Sandy, who is ranked in five of six events plus the all-around, highlighted by a No. 2 rating in the vault.
Michigan, ranked No. 2 in the Big Ten preseason coaches poll, enters Saturday's match-up with Penn State flying high after defeating the likes of Illinois, Ohio State, and Minnesota to claim the team title with a score of 346.100 at the prestigious Windy City Invitational last weekend in Chicago. The Wolverines collected top team scores in four events en route to the competition's team crown: floor exercise (59.650), pommel horse (56.550), still rings (57.950) and parallel bars (58.100). Sophomore Chris Cameron led Michigan with wins in the pommel horse (15.100), still rings (tie, 14.800) and the all-around (88.100). For his performance, he earned the first Big Ten Gymnast of the Week honor of the season.
Boasting 25 members, Michigan's roster is loaded with talent as well as depth. It features Cameron, who is ranked nationally in the top in five events, reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year Thomas Kelley, the nation's No. 1 ranked floor exercise competitor, Ian Makowske, and All-Americans and team co-captains David Chan and Phillip Goldberg.
Fans can follow all of the action of the Penn State-Michigan 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.
The Nittany Lions return to road action next weekend when they visit Minneapolis, Minn. for a dual meet with No. 5 Minnesota on Sat., Jan. 31. The clash of Big Ten foes is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the home of the Golden Gophers, the Sports Pavilion. The journey to the Twin Cities will be the first of two this season for the Nittany Lions, as the National Collegiate Championships will be hosted by Minnesota from April 16-18. A year ago, Penn State dominated Minnesota in a dual at Rec Hall, 354.200-343.350 thanks to event wins by Casey Sandy (floor exercise, parallel bars, high bar) and Vladi Klurman (vault).