No. 2 Men¡¯s Gymnastics to Clash with No. 8 California in Home Regular Season Finale
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; March 15, 2007 ¨C With the start of the postseason looming just weeks away, the No. 2 Penn State men¡¯s gymnastics team will look to round into championship form when it hosts No. 8 California on Sat., March 17 in its final home regular season dual meet. Competition is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at Rec Hall. Five seniors, Matt Cohen (Agoura Hills, Calif.), Matt Bowman (Houston, Texas), Justin Miklos (Flemington, N.J.), Brad Spicer (Fairfax, Va.), and Antwan Webb (Hyde Park, Mass.), will be making their final regular season appearance in historic Rec Hall. The class will be honored in a special ceremony following the meet.
The evening¡¯s competition and festivities will cap a big week for senior captain Matt Cohen, as he was named a finalist for the Nissen-Emery Award, the highest honor presented in collegiate gymnastics, on Wednesday. Bestowed in recognition of outstanding athletic achievement, academic excellence, and sportsmanship, it is the equivalent of college football¡¯s Heisman Trophy. Penn State has had four winners of the prestigious award, Steve Cohen (1967), Bob Emery (1969), for whom the honor is partly named, Gene Whelan (1976), and Spider Maxwell (1987). The 2007 honoree will be revealed at the CGA Annual Awards Presentations banquet on Wed., April 11.
Motivation to perform well versus California should not be lacking for the Nittany Lions for two reasons. First, Penn State will be looking to payback a 219.100-216.525 loss to the Golden Bears, suffered last year in its first-ever visit to Cal¡¯s Berkeley, Calif. campus. Second, the Nittany Lions had a disappointing showing last weekend in their tri-meet with No. 5 Stanford and No. 9 Iowa, placing second behind the host Cardinal. Penn State bested the field in three events outright (floor exercise, pommel horse, parallel bars) and tied Stanford in the still rings with a score of 37.550. However, the high bar proved to the Lions¡¯ undoing, as they scored a 34.400 as compared to the Cardinal¡¯s 37.050.
Casey Sandy (Brampton, Ont.) led Penn State with wins in the pommel horse (9.300) and in the parallel bars (9.350) versus Stanford and Iowa. For the sophomore, the horse title was his eighth of the season. His score of 9.350 in the parallel bars was a career-high and earned him his second consecutive crown in the event. Sandy also lent a score of 9.300 to Penn State¡¯s still rings team total.
Sandy, who was ranked No. 1 in the pommel horse for most the season, will get a chance to reclaim his spot atop the national rankings when he competes head-to-head against Cal¡¯s Tim McNeill. The Golden Bear junior also is ranked first nationally in the parallel bars and seventh in the still rings.
California pulled off a 213.000-212.300 upset win over No. 3 Ohio State at home last weekend, upping its season record to 7-5. It was the Golden Bears¡¯ second-straight victory after knocking off conference foe No. 16 Air Force, 210.450-192.330, at the Peter Vidmar Invitational in Los Angeles on March 1.
The Nittany Lions will spend the next two weeks training before it travels to Minneapolis, Minn. in search of the program¡¯s second conference title at the Big Ten Championships on March 30-31. Hosted by the University of Minnesota at the home of Gopher gymnastics, the Sports Pavilion, the postseason event will feature six of the nation¡¯s top nine gymnastics teams.