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Feb. 3, 2017
MEN’S GYMNASTICS MAKES RETURN TO REC HALL
The Penn State men’s gymnastics team returns to Rec Hall Saturday, Feb. 11 to take on the Buckeyes of Ohio State. The double dual will also feature the women’s team as both squads will take on the Buckeyes starting at 4 p.m. Fans are asked to wear white as the Nittany Lions will White Out Rec Hall for the final double dual of the 2017 season.
SERIES HISTORY WITH THE BUCKEYES
Penn State has met up with Ohio State on 57 occasions with its first meeting coming in the 1976 campaign. Last season the Nittany Lions suffered a big loss to the top-ranked Buckeyes but prior to the 2016 campaign the Blue and White took eight-straight regular season meetings dating back to the 2006 season.
SNEAK PEEK AT OHIO STATE
The returning Big Ten Champions are looking to repeat in the 2017 season and avenge its third-place finish at the NCAA Championships at it started off the season with a second-place finish at the Windy City Invite followed by three-straight wins. As a team, Ohio State is averaging 412.600 and posted a 422.200 last weekend. The Buckeyes have been strong all season on the pommel horse coming in as the No. 2 ranked team with an average score of 69.417.
The biggest name returning for head coach Rustam Sharipov is redshirt-junior Sean Melton. Melton is a six-time All-American and five-time Big Ten Champion for the Buckeyes, while earning Big Ten Gymnast of the Year accolades in the 2016 season.
FRESHMAN CONTRIBUTING EARLY
Head coach Randy Jepson brought in one of the top freshman classes in the nation and they are quickly proving themselves amongst the elite of collegiate gymnastics. Freshman Favian Valdez leads the pack as he has earned three Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors just four weeks into the season. Valdez has notched three titles for the Blue and White with a floor title at the West Point Open, a pommel horse title against Army and most recently the all-around title at Illinois. Also starting strong for the Nittany Lions in his freshman season is Sam Zakutney. Zakutney notched Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors in week three after earning three titles at Springfield. The Ottawa, Ontario native clinched both the parallel bars and high bar title against the Pride before going home with the all-around title in hand.
After an adjustment period in the first two weeks of the season, Stephen Nedoroscik has found his groove on the pommel horse, winning the title in the last two weekends. Nedoroscik returned to his home state of Massachusetts to clinch the first win of his career before following it up with a victory on the pommel horse at Illinois. Brayden Borromeo and Isaac Hammett have also found places in the Nittany Lion lineup with Borromeo competing on the vault in all four weeks and Hammett earning two second-place finishes on the still rings.
EXCELLING ON POMMEL HORSE
Penn State has been unbeatable on the pommel horse in the 2017 season. The Nittany Lions started the year with a win from Colin Coates at the West Point Open before Favian Valdez picked up the win at Army. Freshman Stephen Nedoroscik kept the winning streak alive for the Blue and White with back-to-back victories. Coates has posted a team-best 14.700 on the horse this season, while Nedoroscik ranks second on the team with a 14.500. As a team, Penn State ranks third in the nation on the pommel horse with an average score of 68.563 and a season-best 70.300.
VALDEZ CAPTURES THIRD FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK HONOR
For the fourth-straight week a Penn State men’s gymnastics freshman notched Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors as Favian Valdez garnered the award for the third time in the 2017 season as announced by the conference office Monday, Feb. 6. Valdez picked up his first collegiate all-around title against Illinois, earning an 80.950. The title marks the third title of Valdez’s career in four collegiate meets. The Kearny, N.J. native also had two other podium finishes placing third on the pommel horse with a 13.850 and third on the parallel bars with a 14.100.
BURNS CONTINUES TO BE STEADY FOR THE NITTANY LIONS
Sophomore Michael Burns has been a go-to gymnast for Penn State in the 2017 season and has taken more of a leadership role this year for the Nittany Lions. Last weekend, Burns competed on four events for the Blue and White against Illinois, notching a career-best 14.000 on the vault and tying for fourth overall, while also place fourth on the pommel horse with a 13.750, on the still rings with a 13.900 and on the parallel bars with a 13.900. Finally, Burns paced Penn State on the high bar with a 14.300 and second-place finish for the Nittany Lions.
PENN STATE FALLS AT ILLINOIS
The Penn State men’s gymnastics suffered its first loss of the 2017 campaign in its first Big Ten Conference meet against the Fighting Illini of Illinois Friday, Feb. 3 at Huff Hall. The Nittany Lions saw bright spots in freshman Stephen Nedoroscik, who won his second-straight pommel horse title with a 14.300, while freshman Favian Valdez notched the all-around title for the first time in his career with an 80.950. Nedoroscik’s win marks the fourth-straight match in which Penn State has come away with the pommel horse title as it has yet to be defeated in the event in the 2017 campaign.
With the 2017 men’s gymnastics home schedule starting Saturday, Jan. 21, the Nittany Lions have numerous promotions for its four home duals this season.
Penn State opens the 2017 home slate against Army West Point Saturday, Jan. 21 at 4 p.m. The double dual against the Black Knights will be its annual THON meet where 25 percent of tickets proceeds will go to THON. The Nittany Lions will also be giving away its 2017 schedule poster.
The Blue and White will ask fans to White Out Rec Hall Saturday, Feb. 11 for its second double dual with the women’s team, this time against Ohio State. Fans will receive white shakers to cheer on the Nittany Lions and there will be a special Kid’s Zone with an airbrush tattoo artist, caricature artist and balloon artist. The Nittany Lions will also ask those in attendance to submit their favorite White Out memory from any Penn State sporting event for a chance to be featured at the meet. All prior Penn State gymnastics campers will be admitted to the meet free of charge in honor of Camper Day.
The meet against the Buckeyes will also be Veterans, Armed Forces and Public Safety Day with all being invited to the meet for free with valid veteran, military or public safety I.D. Finally, the 2017 Nittany Lions will be signing autographs after the meet against Ohio State.
Penn State welcomes back its 2007 National Championship team Saturday, Mar. 18 for a special recognition ceremony between rotations. The meet against Michigan will also be the first of two meets featured on the Big Ten Network.
In its final home meet of the 2017 campaign against Iowa, Saturday, Mar. 25, the Nittany Lions will honor its six seniors for their last home meet of their careers. The six seniors set to be honored for their careers at Penn State are Joseph Boyle, Franz Card, Dominic DiFulvio, Christian McSwain, Jeremy Munn and Leroy Clarke, Jr. The meet against the Hawkeyes will also be featured on the Big Ten Network.
For information on purchasing 2017 season tickets fans can visit http://www.GoPSUsports.com/tickets or call 1-800-NITTANY weekdays from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Penn State will host its first home meet of the 2017 season Saturday, Jan. 21 against Army West Point. The dual is slated to start at 4 p.m. at Rec Hall.
Selected gymnasts will travel to Las Vegas, Nev. for the Winter Cup Thursday, Feb. 16 and Saturday, Feb. 18. The Nittany Lions will compete at 10 p.m. Eastern both nights.