Five Nittany Lions to Compete at 2010 Winter Cup Challenge
Feb. 3, 2010
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Three members of the No. 5-ranked Penn State men's gymnastics team along with fifth-year assistant coach Kevin Tan and volunteer assistant coach Vladi Klurman will travel to Las Vegas, Nev. to compete as individuals at the prestigious 2010 Winter Cup Challenge on Thurs., Feb. 4 and Sat., Feb 6. Seniors Nick Virbitsky (Harrisburg, Pa.) and Matt Greenfield (Villanova, Pa.) and freshman Scott Rosenthal (Clearfield, Pa.), in addition to Tan and Klurman, will perform against the nation's top American gymnasts with roster spots on the U.S. Senior Team on the line.
Virbitsky, who will compete in the floor exercise, vault, and high bar, is returning to the Winter Cup for the first time since his freshman season of 2007 when he placed seventh in the vault in the preliminaries. Greenfield (floor exercise, vault, and high bar) and Rosenthal (still rings) will be competing in the event for the first time.
Five-time Winter Cup still rings champion and 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Kevin Tan returns to Las Vegas after missing last season's challenge while recovering from shoulder surgery. Scheduled to compete in the all-around, Tan not only successfully defended his rings title at the 2008 Winter Cup, the last challenge in which he competed, but also placed third in the high bar and fifth in the parallel bars. One of the United States' top rings competitor, he has assembled an impressive gymnastics resume, both nationally and internationally, since he graduated from Penn State in 2005 as a six-time All-American, four-time Big Ten champion, and two-time NCAA champion. Tan's achievements include capturing three VISA Championships rings titles, winning the rings at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials, placing first in the rings at the 2007 Internationaux da France, and taking three events in a dual meet between the U.S. and Canada in 2008, in addition to being elected team captain of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team and selected as the 2007 NACGC Sportsman of the Year.
Klurman will compete in five events (floor exercise, pommel horse, still rings, vault, and parallel bars) in his fourth Winter Cup appearance. In 2009, he advanced to the finals but a shoulder injury suffered during his parallel bars routine prevented him from competing on day two. The 2008 graduate holds the Penn State FIG scoring record in the vault, posting a 16.400, and owns a share of three of the top five scores in the event. In 2007, Klurman earned All-American honors in the still rings. He represented the United States at the 2007 University Games in Bangkok, Thailand, recording the highest still rings score, a 15.100, on the squad during the team competition.
The Winter Cup Challenge consists of two days of competition. Scores from both days of competition count toward the final rankings for the all-around and individual events. The qualification round on Feb. 4 consists of three sessions, beginning at 1 p.m., 6 p.m., and 10:45 p.m. (ET). The top 42 gymnasts, based on the points ranking system approved by the Men's Program Committee, will advance to the finals, which begin at 10:15 p.m. ET on Feb. 6.
Ten gymnasts will be named to the U.S. Men's Senior National Team based on the national team points ranking system from the 2010 Winter Cup Challenge. The Men's Program Committee will also select five team members from among the participants at the 2010 Winter Cup Challenge or from petitioned athletes. The 15 gymnasts named to the team will comprise the U.S. Men's Senior National Team until the 2010 VISA Championships in August.
The remaining Nittany Lions will begin preparations for an upcoming dual with conference rival Illinois, scheduled for 7 p.m. on Sat., Feb. 20 in Rec Hall. The meet is scheduled to be broadcast by the Big Ten Network on a tape delay basis. Penn State posted its lowest score of the season against the Illini a year ago, suffering a 345.500-339.800 setback in a dual meet in Champaign, Ill. The Nittany Lions won three of six events as a team while Casey Sandy captured all four of Penn State's individual titles, placing first in the floor exercise, still rings, vault, and parallel bars on his way to claiming his fourth all-around crown of the season.