No. 1 Men's Gymnastics Readies for Big Ten Tilt vs. Illinois
March 1, 2013
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; March 1, 2013-- The individual honors have poured in this season for the No. 1 Penn State men's gymnastics squad, but this weekend against No. 7 Illinois, the Nittany Lions will not only face the reigning NCAA Champions but will face a change in the scoring system.
Penn State continues to lead the NCAA in scoring average, but will confront the unknown this weekend along with every other team in the country when the scoring system moves from six competitors with five scores counting - dropping your lowest score - to a system that now features only five competitors and all scores counting.
Penn State owns a three-score average of 447.083, nearly six points higher than No. 2 Michigan's average of 441.750, which kept the Blue and White in the top spot in the GymInfo rankings for the sixth straight week. The Nittany Lions sit atop the national team rankings on the pommel horse (74.900), still rings (76.050), vault (74.683) and high bar (75.467), while ranking second on the parallel bars (74.033) and sixth on the floor exercise (73.983).
Wasef Burbar (Arlington Heights, Ill.) set the school record on the high bar for the second time in as many meets last Saturday vs. Springfield College when hit a 16.000 routine after sticking the landing to win the event and post the fourth highest score in NCAA history on the apparatus. The junior became the third different PSU gymnast to earn Big Ten Gymnast of the Week and set personal bests on the floor exercise (14.450), parallel bars (14.700) and high bar against the Pride.
The Big Ten Freshman of the Week honor has belonged to Trevor Howard (Columbus, Ohio) nearly each week this season, as the rookie has claimed five of the seven awards this season. Last weekend vs. Springfield College, Howard won all three events in which he competed and boasted a career-best score on the still rings. Howard flipped his way to a score of 15.800 on the still rings, handed teammate Tristan Duverglas (West Orange, N.J.) his first loss on the vault with a personal-best mark of 15.200 on the event and capped his evening with a tally of 15.350 to win the parallel bars.
Just a freshman, Howard ranks among the top five in the country on three apparatus. He ranks third on the parallel bars with an average score of 15.300, while ranking fourth on the still rings with an average score of 15.550 and on the vault with a 15.150 average. He is one of just a handful of competitors to compile a score of better than 88.000 in the all around when he won the overall crown vs. Ohio State with a total of 88.250 on Feb. 2.
Senior Parker Raque (Louisville, Ky.) is enjoying a solid start to his final campaign and ranks among the nation's elite in all four events he has competed in this season. The captain sits third on the still rings with an average of 15.600, tallies the seventh best average on the high bar at 14.917, owns the 16th best average on the still rings at 14.883 and ranks 19th on the floor exercise with a three-score mean of 14.933.
Burbar tops the NCAA charts on the high bar with a 15.717 average and is followed closely by sophomore Matthew Felleman (Medway, Mass.) and his 15.483 marking and senior Mackenzie Dow (Cranford, N.J.) with a 15.100 average. Duverglas is tied atop the rankings on the vault, where the sophomore has won three titles this season and averages a score of 15.267, with Stanford's Sean Senters and Craig Hernandez (Libertyville, Ill.) ranks second on the pommel horse with an average score of 15.317, but owns the highest individual score in the country this season after posting a 15.750 to set the school record and win the title at the Navy Open.
The Nittany Lions and Illini will take to the mat at 5 p.m. Eastern time for their dual meet.