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Jan. 3, 2016
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The Penn State men’s gymnastics team sent its three seniors out in style, scoring a season-best 433.600 to top the Cornhuskers of Nebraska in its final home meet of the 2016 campaign. The NIttany Lions defeated Nebraska for the second time this season, 433.600-431.000 and took five of the six event titles on the night.
I’m really pleased with the fight of our guys tonight; we haven’t fought well through meets this season, said Head Coach Randy Jepson. “I’ve got young guys with my upperclassmen hurt, people out of the lineup. This has been a developmental year in a lot of ways and to see guys step up and come back after a five point deficit was huge for us tonight, it was great.
Seniors Trevor Howard (Columbus, Ohio), Alexis Torres (Cantano, Puerto Rico) and Blake Young (Winston-Salem, N.C.) competed in their final home meets donning the Blue and White. Howard earned his fourth vault title of the season, while Torres won the high bar and Young competed on the high bar for the Blue and White.
Clarke led Penn State with two event titles on the afternoon, earning a 14.800 on the pommel horse and a 15.000 on the parallel bars. Also earning event titles for PSU were Dominic DiFulvio (Marietta, N.Y.), who captured the still rings win, Howard who placed first on the vault and Torres who won the high bar.
The Nittany Lions started off strong on the floor exercise, scoring a 72.550 with Howard placing second overall with a score of 15.350. Howard was barely edged out by Nebraska’s Austin Epperson who earned a 15.400 on the floor exercise with a two-tenths stick bonus on his final pass. The Cornhuskers were solid on the floor with a team score of 74.650, taking third through fifth, while Joshua Smith (Baton Rouge, La.) tied for sixth with a 15.450 for the Nittany Lions.
Carrying a slight lead into the second rotation, the Blue and White suffered on the pommel horse with a team score of 69.050. However, Clarke notched his second pommel horse title and first outright win of the season with a 14.800. Nebraska swept the next four spots in the event and Christian McSwain (Jamestown. N.C.) nabbed a sixth-place finish with a 14.300.
Moving into the third rotation, the Nittany Lions started to close the gap on Nebraska with a season-best team score of 73.700 on the still rings. The Blue and White swept the top five spots of the event, outscoring Nebraska 73.700-70.900. DiFulvio notched the individual victory with a 15.000, marking the first still rings title of the season for DiFulvio, while Clarke earned a second-place finish and Torres nabbed a third-place finish.
Howard paced PSU on the vault, scoring a career-best 15.450 followed by Smith who also scored a career-high with a 15.400. Anton Stephenson placed third in the event for the Cornhuskers as they took the next four spots. Nebraska barely edged out Penn State, 73.600-73.500 on the vault as the NIttany Lions trailed 290.800-288.800 heading into the final two rotations.
The Blue and White took the lead at the end of the fifth rotation, 361.900-359.800. For the second time on the day, Clarke led the Nittany Lions with a 15.000 on the parallel bars to earn second his second event title and fifth of the season on the parallel bars. Nebraska’s Daniel Leal nabbed the second-place finish, while DiFulvio and Torres rounded out the top three with matching 14.800s.
With a 361.900-359.800 lead and one rotation to go, Penn State took the top-two spots with Torres earning a 15.050 and the win. Freshman Michael Burns (Baltimore, Ohio) placed second with a 14.900 and Wyatt Tyndall (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan) nabbed the fourth place finish with a 14.300.
Penn State will close out its 2016 regular season Saturday, Mar. 19 when it heads Ann Arbor, Mich. for a 1 p.m. meet against the Wolverines of the University of Michigan.