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Feb. 6, 2013
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; February 6, 2013-- After their first Big Ten victory of the season, the No. 1 Penn State men's gymnastics team will take a break from the dual meet portion of their schedule and compete on an entirely different stage this weekend in Las Vegas, Nev. at the 2013 Winter Cup Challenge. The Nittany Lions had seven student-athletes invited to attend the event that kicks off the road to the 2016 Olympic Games.
Mackenzie Dow (Cranford, N.J.), Adrian Evans (Boulder, Colo.), Matthew Felleman (Medway, Mass.), Craig Hernandez (Libertyville, Ill.), Trevor Howard (Columbus, Ohio) and Parker Raque (Louisville, Ky.) will all compete in the two-day event hosted at the Las Vegas Sports Center, while senior Scott Rosenthal (Clearfield, Pa.) was invited but will not compete. The seven selections were the most for any collegiate program, ahead of Ohio State and Stanford who each had six competitors selected.
Dow heads to the Winter Cup as one of the team's top performers on the pommel horse, parallel bars and horizontal bar. The senior has set new career-bests on two apparatus this season and hast four top-three finishes in 2013. Dow placed third in two events at the Navy Open, boasting season-bests on the high bar (15.300) and pommel horse (14.800).
One of the team's top performers on the pommel horse, Evans enters the competition after posting his second best score of the season on the pommel against Ohio State. The junior set a new career-high in the event when he rocked his way to a 15.300 to place third at the Navy Open and followed that up with a 14.900 showing vs. the Buckeyes.
It was a great start to the season for Felleman who set a school record on the high bar in the season opener and he has carried that momentum onto other apparatus through the first month. The sophomore has set career-bests in five different events and competed in the all around for the first time in his collegiate career. Felleman posted a 15.500 score on the high bar vs. Army and at the Navy Open to win each event and set the new school standard. He also posted a score of 84.100 in the all around competition to finish second in the event at the Navy Open.
The school record holder in the pommel horse, Hernandez bested his own school record that he set last season when he rocked his way to a score of 15.750 to win the event title at the Navy Open, which is the highest score by a collegiate this season. He tied for the individual title with a mark of 15.400 vs. Ohio State last weekend. The sophomore has also competed on the floor exercise for the Blue and White, scoring 14.700 to finish second overall at the Navy Open.
One of the top rookies in the nation, Howard ranks among the top-15 in the NCAA in five of the six events and ranks third with an average score of 87.200 in the all around competition. His freshman season includes a pair of individual all around titles, coming at the Navy Open and vs. Ohio State, three Big Ten Freshman of the Week awards and one Big Ten Gymnast of the Week. He ranks second in the NCAA on the still rings with a 15.317 average score, sits fourth on the vault and parallel bars with scores of 15.083 and 15.100, respectively. Howard finished second at the 2012 Junior Olympic National Championships in the all around competition and was a top-five event finisher in five events.
The Nittany Lions captain, Raque, has been all that the team could ask for through the first four weeks of the season. Raque has competed in four events at each of the first three competitions in 2013 and is among the national top-20 on the still rings, vault and high bar. He set a career-best on the high bar when he boasted a tally of 14.750 to finish fourth overall at the Navy Open after a 14.700 showing vs. Army in the season opener. He is one of only 11 competitors in the NCAA with a mark of 15.000 or better on the vault and is one of ten NCAA student-athletes to score 15.300 or higher on the still rings in 2013.
The Winter Cup begins at 1 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 7 and 7:15 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 9 inside the Las Vegas Sports Center. The next team competition for the No. 1 ranked Nittany Lions will come on Saturday, Feb. 16