No. 5 Men's Gymnastics Travels to Face No. 6 Cal in Regular Season Finale
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; March 10, 2006 - The No. 5-ranked Penn State men's gymnastics team will travel coast-to-coast for its regular season finale, venturing to the Golden State to challenge No. 6 California in a dual meet at the Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, Calif. on Sat., March 11. Competition is scheduled to begin at 10:30 p.m. ET. Penn State is 5-1 in dual meet competition this season.
The Nittany Lions rebounded soundly from it's first loss of the season, suffered at the hands of Ohio State on Feb. 25, by posting its second-highest team score of the season in a commanding 213.550-205.100 victory over No. 10 William & Mary on March 4 in Rec Hall.
Sophomore Tommy Ramos (Guaynabo P.R.) contributed another outstanding performance to the Nittany Lion effort, winning the rings, the parallel bars, and the high bar. Ranked No. 2 in the nation on rings, Ramos scored a 9.550 to earn his fifth title in the event this season. On the parallel bars, he posted a winning score of 9.300. Ramos' high bar victory, earned by tallying a mark of 9.250, was his fourth win in his last five meets and helped Penn State establish a new team season high in the event.
Sophomore Santiago Lopez (Cibola del Mar, Mex.) made his presence felt with a win in the floor exercise (9.150) and a second-place finish on the vault (9.150). Vladi Klurman (North Miami Beach, Fla.), another member of the Penn State's stellar sophomore class, added a victory on the pommel horse, his first of the season in the event. Klurman also finished second on the rings (9.200) and in the floor exercise (8.950) and third on vault (9.000).
Derek Helsby (Orlando, Fla.) also played a factor in the team victory, winning the all-around (52.800), placing second on the parallel bars (9.250), and finishing third on the high bar (9.250).
Sixth-ranked Cal enters Saturday evening's meet with Penn State owners of a 2006 average team score of 212.033. As a team, the Bears' highest average event scores have been earned on the still rings (36.383), the vault (35.917), and the parallel bars (35.650). Their highest national team ranking (No. 4) is on the rings and the parallel bars.
Individually, a trio of sophomores in Tim McNeill, Tyler Block, and Colin Christ headline the Cal squad. McNeill is the Bears' top nationally ranked gymnast, earning No. 1 status on the pommel horse (9.333), No. 7 on the parallel bars (9.217), and No. 13 (tie) on the high bar (9.233). Tyler Block is ranked eighth on the rings and is coming off a first-place finish in the event at the Peter Vidmar Invite. Christ appears in the national rankings on the pommel horse (No. 20) and the high bar (No. 13, tie.)
In its last meet, California posted its highest team score of the season (212.750) to secure first place at the 2006 Peter Vidmar Invite in Los Angeles. The Bears placed first on all six events and set a new season-best score of 35.050 on the pommel horse.
For the season, Cal has lost to rival Stanford twice in dual meet competition and fell to Oklahoma and Ohio State in a tri-meet. The Bears placed first at the Peter Vidmar Invite, second at the Stanford Open, and third at the Pacific Coast Classic.
Penn State holds a 2-3 record versus California in the teams' all-time series. In their last meeting on April 6, 2001, the Nittany Lions fell to the Bears, 216.775-212.125.
With the end of the 2006 regular season drawing to a conclusion after the California meet, Penn State continues to hold a prominent place in the national rankings. As a team, the Nittany Lions remain No. 1 in the nation on the pommel horse, despite scoring below their average the past two meets. They are also ranked No. 3 on the still rings and parallel bars, No. 5 on high bar, and No. 6 on the vault. Individually, Tommy Ramos is ranked second on the rings and seventh on the high bar. Casey Sandy, despite being out for the season, is tied with Cal's Tim McNeill as the No. 1 competitor on the pommel horse and is the No. 4 performer in the all-around. Matt Cohen (No. 7, still rings), Derek Helsby (No. 7, pommel horse), Justin Miklos (No. 8, pommel horse), Santiago Lopez (tied at No. 10, floor exercise), and Chad Buczek (Tied at No. 9, vault) are also notably featured in the national rankings.
Penn State will spend the next week training before heading west again, this time to Iowa City, Iowa for the Big Ten Championships on March 24 and 25. Two weeks later, the Nittany Lions will travel to Norman, Okla. to participate in the 2006 NCAA Men's Gymnastics Championships (April 6-8).