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March 7, 2008
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The second-ranked Penn State men's gymnastics team will host its first tri-meet since 2005 when it welcomes No. 9 William & Mary and No. 13 to Rec Hall on Sat., March 8. Competition is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m.
The Nittany Lions are undefeated at home this year, earning convincing wins over Army (358.500-333.600), Temple (353.350-337.350), and Minnesota (354.200-343.450). They will conclude their 2008 home regular season schedule on March 22 when No. 3 Oklahoma visits Happy Valley for a 7 p.m. Senior Night match-up. The dual meet will feature the winners of the last five national championships. In 2007, Penn State thrilled the Rec Hall faithful by edging the Sooners for its NCAA-record 12th national championship in come-from-behind fashion.
When last in action, Penn State posted a season-high team score of 360.550 in a win over defending Big Ten champion Ohio State in Columbus on Feb. 24. Junior Casey Sandy (Brampton, Ont.) captured the high bar title and, for the fifth time this year in five tries, the all-around crown; efforts that would earn him his third Big Ten Men's Gymnast of the Week honor of the season and fifth of his career. Sandy also finished second in the floor exercise and parallel bars and third in the still rings (tie) and vault, giving him an impressive 29 top three finishes this season.
After competing sparingly throughout the season due to injury, senior and five-time All-American Tommy Ramos (Guaynabo, P.R.) served noticed that he is back by winning his first rings title of the season with a team season high score of 15.700. Senior Vladi Klurman (North Miami Beach, Fla.) also established a team season best score, claiming the vault title with a stellar mark of 16.250.
William & Mary is coming off its top performance of the season, a 348.600-331.950 home win over Army on March 2. On the strength of that effort, the Tribe vaulted from No. 13 to No. 9 in the national rankings by virtue of its improved average score of 343.800. Senior Andrew Hunt is William & Mary's highest ranked individual competitor, possessing the No. 8 spot in the high bar with a season average of 14.883. Fellow senior David Locke is currently positioned 11th in the floor exercise (15.250) and junior James Prim holds the same spot in the national rankings in the still rings (15.183).
Penn State has never lost to William & Mary in head-to-head regular season competition, compiling a 13-0 all-time record. Last year, the Nittany Lions defeated the tribe at the Temple Invitational (210.225-190.850) and in a tri-meet in Williamsburg, Va. (212.800-191.750).
Despite recording a season-high score of 340.800 in its last meet on Feb. 29, Navy fell to William & Mary in Annapolis. After six meets, the Midshipmen's three score average stands at 339.483. Junior Adam Stanton and senior Christopher Tam headline Navy. Stanton, a 2007 ECAC medalist in the pommel horse, is currently ranked 13th nationally in the event with an average score of 14.467. A two-time ECAC medalist, Tam is tied for 16th in the rankings in the high bar (14.600).
Penn State's rivalry with Navy is one of the program's oldest and most successful. The Nittany Lions have more wins against the Midshipmen than any other team, 48, against just 10 losses. Penn State has won 19 straight, including two victories in last year's national championship season, and has not lost to Navy since 1988. Under current head coach Randy Jepson, the Lions are 15-0 versus the Middies.
Fans can also follow all of the action from Penn State's match-up with William & Mary and Navy on the Internet with live scoring updates or with live video through a webcast from Rec Hall. Click on the "gametrack PSU" link on the official website of Nittany Lion athletics, www.GoPSUsports.com, to gain access.
Next weekend, the Nittany Lions will travel to the west coast for a tri-meet at No. 4 California. Penn State will face the host Golden Bears and No. 16 Army on Sat., March 15 at 10 p.m. ET at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, Calif. Last season, Cal's scheduled trip to University Park was derailed by a freak snowstorm and its dual meet with the Nittany Lions was cancelled. In its all-time series with the tri-meet opponents, Penn State is 1-1 versus California and 44-18-1 against Army.