Ninth Consecutive Title at Stake for Men's Gymnastics at West Point Open
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; January 27, 2006 - With three straight dual meet victories to its credit, the No. 7-ranked Penn State men's gymnastics team will travel north to the Empire State this weekend to take part in the prestigious West Point Open, hosted by Army. The meet, held in West Point, N.Y., is a two-day event starting with the team competition on Fri., Jan. 27 at 7:00 p.m. On Sat., Jan. 28, the top eight finishers in all six events from Friday will vie in the individual event finals, starting at 7:00 p.m. The Nittany Lions, in seeking their ninth-consecutive West Point Open title, will face some of the top collegiate gymnasts in the East from Army, James Madison, M.I.T., Navy, Springfield, and Temple in addition to competitors participating unattached or with club teams.
In 2005, Penn State captured the West Point Open title by posting a team score of 217.750. Only Big Ten foe Iowa was in striking distance of the Lions, placing second with a 216.375 mark. Four first place finishes by Luis Vargas helped lift Penn State to the team title on Friday evening. Vargas added two individual event wins the next night while Derek Helsby (Orlando, Fla.) won the pommel horse and then-graduate assistant coach Kevin Tan took the rings crown.
Last weekend, Penn State gained its third dual meet and first Big Ten victory of the season, defeating Michigan in Ann Arbor, 209.400-206.450. Freshman Casey Sandy (Brampton, Ont.) won his third all-around title in as many attempts, posting a score of 54.000. His mark was the nation's highest score thus far this season and moved him into the No. 2 spot in the national all-around rankings, just .075 behind Iowa's Michael Reavis. Sandy also placed first on the pommel horse (9.200), second on the parallel bars (8.300) and the high bar (9.250), and third in the floor exercise (9.000), rings (8.950), and vault (9.300). For his outstanding performance, Sandy earned Big Ten Men's Gymnast of the Week honors for the second time this year.
Sophomore Tommy Ramos (Guaynabo, P.R) came through with a first-place effort on the rings, winning with a score of 9.450. Senior captain Chad Buczek (Bridgewater, Mass.) tied for the top spot in the floor exercise with a score of 9.100, giving him victories in the event in consecutive meets. Santiago Lopez (Cibola del Mar, Mex.) gained Penn State's other win on the night, taking first on the parallel bars.
After three dual meets, 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 34.517, tied for No. 2 in the vault (36.500), No. 5 on the floor exercise (35.067), and the No. 6 in the parallel bars (33.333). As individuals, Casey Sandy ranks first in the pommel horse (9.183), Santiago Lopez is slotted at No. 5 in the vault with a 9.500 average, and Justin Miklos (Flemington, N.J.) is No. 5 on the pommel horse (8.733).
A select group of Penn State gymnasts will be in action next weekend, taking part in the Winter Cup in Las Vegas, Nev. The USA Gymnastics-sponsored event is scheduled for Fri. and Sat., Feb. 3-4. A year ago, Chad Buczek placed sixth in the floor exercise and Kevin Tan took second on the rings. For those not participating in the Winter Cup, an extended competitive layoff is in store. Penn State will not return to meet action for three weeks until it hosts Stanford at the Bryce Jordan Center on Sun. Feb. 19 at 5:00 p.m.
For more information on Nittany Lion men's gymnastics, visit the official website of Penn State athletics at www.GoPSUsports.com.