No. 2 Men¡¯s Gymnastics to Host Big Ten Rival No. 4 Ohio State
The double dual will be televised live by WPSU with veteran announcer Steve Jones calling the action and former Penn State great Jose Palacios providing color commentary. College Sports Television (CSTV) will air the meet on tape delay on Thurs., March 1 at 8 p.m. ET.
For the Nittany Lions, the match-up with Big Ten rival Ohio State will conclude a challenging February home stand that featured duals against three of the nation¡¯s top five teams. After spending the next two weekends on the road, Penn State will return to Rec Hall on March 17 for its home finale versus No. 8 California.
Penn State¡¯s impressive win over Illinois last weekend was accomplished in record-breaking fashion, as five team season-high scores were shattered. The Nittany Lions not only set a new season-best team score, erasing its previous high of 215.800, they established new highs in the pommel horse (36.750), the 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.) outright titles in the rings and high bar and shared crown in the parallel bars. For his standout performances, Ramos was named Big Ten Gymnast of the Week for the second time this season. Sophomore Casey Sandy (Brampton, Ont.) and juniors Vladi Klurman (North Miami Beach, Fla.) and Derek Helsby (Orlando, Fla.) also secured first place finishes. Helsby, who had been struggling through a slow start to the season, quickly regained the form that made him a four-time All-American a year ago, setting season-high marks in four events.
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.
Entering the seventh week of the season, Penn State continues to maintain a prominent position in both the team and individual national rankings. The Nittany Lions, as a team, are ranked among the top four in the nation in each event and hold the No. 1 spot in the rings and the pommel horse and the No. 2 position in the vault and high bar.
In the individual national rankings, the Nittany Lions occupy the No. 1 position in three of the six events. Casey Sandy has been untouchable on the pommel horse, maintaining the No. 1 ranking with a 9.367 average. With his brilliant 9.650 performance versus Illinois, Tommy Ramos remained atop the national rankings on the rings (9.675). Matt Cohen (Agoura Hills, Calif.) is not far behind Ramos, possessing the No. 3 rings ranking with a 9.550 average. Vladi Klurman (North Miami Beach, Fla.), with title-winning performances in each of the last two meets, has enjoyed a rapid ascent up the vault rankings, reaching the top spot with a 9.233 average.
Led by 10-year head coach Miles Avery, Ohio State brings a 5-2 record into Saturday evening¡¯s showdown with Penn State. The Buckeyes should be well rested, as they have not competed as a team since Feb. 3, a 216.350-198.550 home victory over Temple. The match-up against the Nittany Lions kicks off a brutal three-game road stretch for OSU, with meets against two-time defending national champion Oklahoma and west coast power No. 8 California to follow.
A trio of highly decorated competitors in senior Willie Ito and juniors DJ Bucher and Jimmy Wickham headlines the Buckeyes. Ito owns the OSU pommel horse record with a score of 9.900 and was an All-American on high bar in 2006. Bucher is a four-time All-American and recently placed third in the parallel bars at the 2007 Winter Cup. Wickham earned All-American status on the vault a year ago and is the school record holder in the event with a score of 9.700.
Penn State possesses a 22-24-0 all-time record versus Ohio State in a series that dates back to 1976. The Buckeyes are just one of three opponents against which the Nittany Lions hold a losing record (UCLA, Oklahoma). Penn State will be looking to avenge a 216.300-209.050 loss to Ohio State suffered last year on Feb. 24 in Columbus.
Fans attending the meet will receive Penn State rally towels. Special promotions such as the Damon¡¯s Lucky Program and a National Collegiate Championships Ticket Trivia Contest are also scheduled.
The Nittany Lions take to the road for the first time in over a month next weekend, traveling to Williamsburg, Va. to face host No. 15 William & Mary and No. 13 Navy in a tri-meet on Sat., March 3. Competition is slated to begin at 2 p.m. at the home of Tribe gymnastics, Kaplan Arena at William & Mary Hall.