No. 4 Men's Gymnastics to Battle No. 10 William & Mary in Final Home Meet of 2006 Season
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; March 3, 2006 - Fourth-ranked Penn State will look to rebound from its first loss of the season, suffered last weekend at Big Ten rival Ohio State, when it faces No. 10 William & Mary in the Nittany Lions' 2006 home finale on Sat., March 4. The dual meet is set to begin at 7:00 p.m. in Rec Hall.
Team captain Chad Buczek (Bridgewater, Mass.), who will be competing in Rec Hall for the last time in his Nittany Lion career Saturday evening, will honored in a Senior Night ceremony. Throughout his career, Buczek has been a consistently solid contributor, particularly on the vault and the floor exercise. A member of Penn State's 2004 NCAA Championship team, Buczek earned All-Big Ten honors that season and Academic All-Big Ten accolades in 2004 and 2005.
In addition to the Senior Night ceremony, Saturday evening will be highlighted by a special tribute to legendary former coach Gene Wettstone. A sculpture created by internationally acclaimed artist Richard MacDonald has been be donated to the Penn State All-Sports Museum, where it will be on permanent display in honor of Coach Wettstone. The sculpture depicts a gymnast strained in the execution of a move called the "Flair" and exalts the determination, tenacity, and dedication inherent in the pursuit of excellence. In addition, an award inspired by the piece, to be named the Gene Wettstone Award, has been established and will be presented annually to the team's most outstanding gymnast.
On Feb. 25 in Columbus, Ohio, Penn State was defeated for the first time in dual meet competition in 2006, falling to No. 2 Ohio State, 216.300-209.050. As a team, the Nittany Lions won just one event but did it in decisive fashion, besting Ohio State, 37.650-35.550, on the still rings. Penn State swept the top three spots en route to establishing a season high team score. Sophomore Tommy Ramos (Guaynabo, P.R.) and junior Matt Cohen (Agoura Hills, Calif.) tied for first place, earning identical scores of 9.550 while defending Big Ten Men's Co-Gymnast of the Week Derek Helsby (Orlando, Fla.) took third by earning a career-best mark of 9.350.
Ramos also secured a share of the high bar title, tying Ohio State's Willie Ito, the nation's No. 1-ranked performer on the apparatus. The sophomore's score of 9.450 was an individual and team season high.
Chad Buczek contributed an impressive effort on the vault, placing second with a personal season best score of 9.400. Sophomore Santiago Lopez (Cibola del Mar, Mex.) set a career high on the floor exercise, scoring a 9.450 to finish third.
The Nittany Lions carried the all-around, finishing 1-2-3. Derek Helsby placed first (50.400), earning his second consecutive all-around title, followed by Matt Cohen (50.350) and Shaun Antonio (49.900) (Rio Rancho, N.M.).
William & Mary, the No. 10-ranked team in the nation, enters Saturday's meet with Penn State possessing an average team score of 205.542. The Tribe's highest average team event score comes on the vault (36.550) while its lowest is on the pommel horse (33.767). Its highest national team ranking (No. 9) is on the rings.
Individually, senior Ramon Jackson and sophomores Aaron Ingram and David Locke headline the William & Mary squad. Jackson is the only Tribe gymnast to be ranked nationally at No. 12 or higher in any event. He is positioned seventh on the parallel bars (9.150) and 12th on the still rings (9.300). Ingram is William & Mary's other lone nationally ranked gymnast, as he is slotted at No. 18 in the all-around with a 49.067 average. In a recent team victory, Locke won three events, the floor exercise (9.300), the vault (9.000), and the high bar (9.300)
William & Mary has defeated Temple and James Madison in dual meet competition this season and placed first in the Shenandoah Open and ninth at the Pacific Coast Classic. In its victory over James Madison on Feb. 19, William & Mary posted its highest team score of the year, a 209.550
In a series that dates back to 1984, Penn State possesses a perfect 10-0-0 record versus William & Mary. A year ago, the Nittany Lions defeated the Tribe twice, once on Jan. 28 at the West Point Open (217.750-202.150) and again in the final dual meet of the 2005 season in Williamsburg, Va. on March 12 (219.400-214.150).
With just two regular season meets remaining, Penn State continues to hold a prominent place in the national rankings. As a team, despite a substandard performance versus Ohio State, the Nittany Lions remain No. 1 in the nation on the pommel horse. They are also ranked No. 3 on the still rings, No. 5 on the floor exercise and the parallel bars, and No. 6 on the vault. Individually, Tommy Ramos is ranked second on the rings and sixth on the high bar. Casey Sandy (Brampton, Ont., Can.), despite being out for the season, remains as the No. 1 competitor on the pommel horse and the No. 4 performer in the all-around. Matt Cohen (No. 5, still rings), Santiago Lopez (No. 8, floor exercise), and Chad Buczek (Tied at No. 7, vault) benefited in the rankings with solid performances in the loss to Ohio State.
Fans attending the Penn State-William & Mary meet will be treated to a variety of promotions, including:
-The first 300 fans through the gates will take home a Penn State Men's Gymnastics key chain.
-Free 2006 Penn State Men's Gymnastics posters and schedule magnets will be available to all fans.
-Saturday is Penn State faculty/staff night. All faculty and staff who show a valid Penn State ID at the gate will be admitted for just $2.
Penn State will travel coast-to-coast, venturing west nearly 2,700 miles, for its final regular season meet when the Nittany Lions visit Berkeley, Calif. to compete against No. 5 California on Sat., March 11. After a week off, Penn State will journey west again, this time to Iowa City, Iowa for the Big Ten Championships on March 24 and 25.