No. 6 Men's Gymnastics to Make Coast-to-Coast Trek for Tri-Meet with Host No. 9 California and No. 8 Nebraska
March 9, 2010
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The No. 6 Penn State men's gymnastics team will make its longest and final road trip of the 2010 regular season this weekend when it travels to Berkeley, Calif. for a tri-meet with host No. 9 California and No. 8 Nebraska on Sat., March 13. Competition is set to begin at 7 p.m. ET at the home of the Golden Bears, Haas Pavilion.
Penn State gained its first Big Ten win of the season and ended a two-meet losing slide, posting a season high score of 350.150 in claiming victories over No. 7 Minnesota and No. 11 Temple last weekend. As a team, Penn State won four events (floor exercise, pommel horse, still rings, and high bar), established a season high in the vault (62.900), and scored above its season average in all six events. Individually, four different Nittany Lions, Felix Aronovich (Kiryat Bialik, Israel) (parallel bars), Nick Virbitsky (Harrisburg, Pa.) (floor exercise), Noam Shaham (Kfar Saba, Israel) (high bar), and Scott Rosenthal (Clearfield, Pa.) (still rings), claimed at least a share of event titles.
Penn State, which has a three-score average of 349.033, is nationally ranked in the top 11 in each event as a team. Its highest team event ranking comes in the floor exercise and still rings, in which it ranks fifth. Individually, eight different Nittany Lions are ranked in the top 20 in six events, led by senior Nick Virbitsky, who is slotted at No. 6 in the floor exercise.
Cal is coming off a 351.800-346.000 loss to Ohio State, suffered last Saturday evening in Berkeley. The Golden Bears won the floor exercise, parallel bars, and high bar as a team while, individually, sophomore Glen Ishino captured the all-around title (89.050) and freshman Dennis Mannhart, a member of the Swiss national team, placed first in the parallel bars (15.250).
Possessing a three score average of 345.433 and a season high score of 349.450, California is nationally ranked as high as No. 4 (parallel bars) and as low as No. 12 (still rings) as a team. Individually, junior Kyle Bunthuwong is ranked in the parallel bars (1st), high bar (T8th), still rings (T13th) and all-around (4th) while Ishino is ranked in three events (pommel horse, still rings, parallel bars) and the all-around. Senior Bryan del Castillo, a 2009 All-American on high bar, has also figured prominently in Cal's line-up in 2010.
Penn State has faced Cal just four times in regular season competition, posting a 1-3 record. The Nittany Lions have lost three straight meetings, including its last trip to Berkeley, a 360.400-351.300 setback. A year ago, Penn State fell to the Golden Bears, 355.150-353.800, in University Park.
In its last outing, Nebraska scored a 347.500 to place third in a tri-meet with No. 1 Oklahoma (360.300) and No. 2 Stanford (361.650) in Lincoln. Senior Kyle Shanahan was the only Husker to place in the top-three finishers at the competition, earning a second-place finish on high bar with a mark of 14.95. Despite Nebraska's third-place finish, nine gymnasts earned career-high marks in the competition, including Shanahan (87.050) and freshman Andreas Hofer (86.90) in the all-around.
Nebraska is the No. 3 team in the MPSF, owning a three score average of 346.050 and a season high mark of 348.250. Shanahan (floor exercise, high bar, all-around) and Hofer (vault, parallel bars) are the lone Huskers to be nationally ranked but significant contributions this season have also come from seniors John Robinson, Anthony Ingrelli, and Tony Maras.
Penn State possesses a 7-5 record in its all-time series with Nebraska, however, the teams have not met in the regular season since the 2005 West Point Open and have not faced each other in a dual or tri-meet format since 2000.
The Nittany Lions will return home next weekend to host No. 2 Oklahoma in a 7 p.m. dual meet on Sat., March 20 at Rec Hall. For seniors Matt Greenfield (Villanova, Pa.), Allen Harris (Lancaster, Pa.), Noam Shaham (Kfar Saba, Israel), and Nick Virbitsky, it will be their final home appearance in a Nittany Lion uniform. The trio will be honored in a special Senior Night ceremony following the meet. A year ago, Penn State posted a season-high team score but fell to the Sooners, 366.850-356.300, in Norman, Okla. The meet will be a double dual with the No. 18 Penn State women's gymnastics team facing No. 11 Nebraska.