No. 2 Men's Gymnastics Posts Season-High Score in 220.150-205.250 Victory Over No. 5 Illinois
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; February 17, 2007 - The No. 2 Penn State men's gymnastics served notice to the collegiate gymnastics world Saturday night by soundly defeating Big Ten rival No. 5 Illinois 220.150-205.250 at historic Rec Hall. Not only did the Nittany Lions' team total far surpass their previous season high of 215.800, they established season-best team scores in four events-pommel horse (36.750), vault (35.850), parallel bars (36.600), and high bar (37.200).
Individually, Penn State competitors won five of six events, led by junior Tommy Ramos (Guaynabo, P.R.) titles in the rings, parallel bars, and high bar. Sophomore Casey Sandy (Brampton, Ont.) and juniors Vladi Klurman (North Miami Beach, Fla.) and Derek Helsby (Orlando, Fla.) also secured first place finishes.
For Tommy Ramos, his victories in the rings and high bar mark the second-consecutive meet in which has accomplished the feat. He continued to solidify his position as the nation's No. 1 rings competitor, using a 9.650 to win his fourth crown of the season. The junior's victorious high bar score of 9.500 was a season and team high.
Casey Sandy left no doubt as to whether his comeback from last season's arm injury was complete Saturday night against the Illini. The sophomore remains untouchable on the pommel horse, winning his fifth title of the season with a score 9.300. Sandy also placed third on the high bar (9.350) and fifth on the rings (9.200).
However, the evening's spotlight shown brightest on Derek Helsby, who after a slow start to the 2007 campaign, quickly regained the form that made him a four-time All-American a year ago, setting season-high marks in four events. In addition to sharing the parallel bars title with Tommy Ramos with a score of 9.350, the junior placed second in the pommel horse (9.250) and high bar (9.400) and third on the rings (9.400). For his standout efforts, Helsby was honored with the Gene Wettstone Award.
Vladi Klurman provided another clutch performance on the vault, winning his second straight title in the event, this time with a career-high score of 9.350. The junior used another career-best mark, a 9.050, to finish in third place in the parallel bars.
Senior captain Matt Cohen (Agoura Hills, Calif.) again led by example versus Illinois, placing second in the rings with a season-best score of 9.600. Competing unopposed, he also took the all-around with a career-high mark of 53.200.
Freshman Nick Virbitsky (Harrisburg, Pa.) continues to impress, capturing second in the floor exercise with a score of 9.200. The Central Pennsylvania native has now placed first or second in the event in three of six meets this season.
The Nittany Lions remain at home next weekend, hosting Big Ten rival No. 3 Ohio State on Sat., Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. in Rec Hall. The meet, which will be televised live by WPSU, will feature a double dual format with the Penn State and Ohio State women's gymnastics teams also competing.