No. 2 Men's Gymnastics Travels to No. 7 Ohio State for Big Ten Clash
Feb. 22, 2008
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Defending national champion will meet reigning Big Ten champion when the No. 2 Penn State men's gymnastics team clashes with No. 7 Ohio State on Sun., Feb. 24 in historic St. John Arena in Columbus, Ohio. The meet, which will also feature the No. 16 Nittany Lion women's gymnastics squad facing its Buckeye counterpart, is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. The conference match-ups will be broadcast tape delay by the Big Ten Network on Thurs., Feb. 28 (6 p.m.) and Sun., March 2 (4 p.m.).
Last weekend, Penn State recorded its lowest team score of the season but was still able to claim a hard-fought Big Ten road win by defeating No. 5 Illinois, 352.300-351.000, in Champaign. The Nittany Lions displayed their team depth by winning at least a share of five events as a team but just one individual event. Penn State posted below average scores in the floor exercise and high bar but was outstanding on the vault, cementing its ranking as the No. 1 team in the nation in the event. Junior Casey Sandy (Brampton, Ont.) captured titles in the rings (15.200) and the all-around (88.650) while placing second in the floor exercise (15.050) and pommel horse (15.000). Senior captain Santiago Lopez (Cibola del Mar, Mex.) continued his outstanding season, tying for first in the vault (16.050), his third title in the event this year.
Entering the sixth week of the season, Penn State continues to maintain a prominent position in the 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 floor exercise and vault and the No. 2 position in the pommel horse and still rings. Individually, six different Nittany Lions holding 16 top 10 national rankings, led by Casey Sandy who is ranked in the top five in five of six events and is the nation's No. 1 all-arounder.
Ohio State, which is averaging a score of 346.767 through four meets, enters Sunday's match-up after posting in highest team score of the season last weekend, a 351.000, in a home loss to No. 4 California. Three Buckeye gymnasts hold top 10 individual event scores in the national rankings, including captains Jimmy Wickham and Jake Bateman along with junior Eddie Hay and freshman Brandon Wynn. Wickham is the Buckeyes' highest rated competitor, ranking No. 2 in the vault (16.133) and No. 5 in the floor exercise (15.333). The Ohio State roster also features senior DJ Bucher, a six-time All-American.
Penn State owns a 23-24 all-time record versus Big Ten rival Ohio State, one of just two active opponents the Nittany Lions have a sub-.500 program mark against. A year ago, Penn State edged the Buckeyes, 218.150-215.600, in a highly competitive dual meet at Rec Hall. Casey Sandy and Tommy Ramos (Guaynabo, P.R.) led the Lions with wins in the pommel horse and rings, respectively. Penn State's last visit to Columbus, in 2006, ended in a 216.300-209.050 loss.
Fans can follow all of the action from the Penn State-Ohio State dual on the Internet with live scoring updates. Click on the "gametrack PSU" link on the official website of Nittany Lion athletics, www.GoPSUsports.com, to gain access.
The Nittany Lions get a rare but welcome week off before they host No. 12 Navy and William & Mary in a tri-meet on Sat., March 8 at 2 p.m. at Rec Hall. Last season, Penn State defeated Navy (212.800-191.700) and William & Mary (212.800-191.750) in a meet at the Tribe's home venue, Kaplan Arena, in Williamsburg, Va. The Nittany Lions hold a combined 61-10 record in their all-time series versus Navy and William & Mary.