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March 27, 2014
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After closing out their regular-season slate on the road against then-No.1 Michigan, the No. 7 Penn State men's gymnastics team is rested and ready to head to Nebraska for the 2014 Big Ten Championship.
Friday's individual session includes team and all-around competition, which begins at 7 p.m. Saturday's session features individual event finals, which begin at 5 p.m. The Big Ten Network will broadcast both sessions live from the Bob Devaney Sports Center in Lincoln, Neb.
Looking to secure their third Big Ten Championship title in program history, the Nittany Lions will have to pull out their best performances this weekend as five other conference teams are ranked within the top-10 nationally. Ohio State is leading the way ranked second, while Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois, Penn State and Iowa all have spots four through eight, respectively. Nebraska ranks just outside the top-10 coming in at 11th.
Last year, Penn State recorded its fourth runner-up finish in program history at the Big Ten Championship with a team total of 434.050, which placed second behind eventual champion Michigan. Individually, Craig Hernandez highlighted the event topping the pommel horse lineup on both days of competition to secure an individual title.
Heading into competition this week, PSU is set to open competition on one of its best events, the still rings. Ranked fifth nationally as a team on the apparatus, sophomores Trevor Howard and Alexis Torres are both ranked within the top-10 in the nation. Howard is slated fifth overall (15.583), while Torres is positioned seventh (15.483) after posting a career-high score of 15.800 on the rings at Michigan.
In the second rotation, junior Tristan Duverglas will lead the squad on the vault, as he's currently ranked seventh nationally (15.133). Duverglas has recorded three first-place finishes this season, including two straight against Temple (2/8) and Illinois (2/15). Junior Matt Fellelman will lead the Nittany Lions on the high bar in the fourth rotation, as he is also ranked within the top-10 in one event. His four score average of 15.083 ranks seventh on the high bar.
Penn State will also look for a solid showing in the fifth rotation, as PSU takes to the floor for the floor exercise. The duo of Torres and Howard are each slotted within the top 15 nationally on the floor. Torres is eighth, (15.217), while Howard is 14th (15.083).
After a bye in the sixth rotation, Hernandez will look to capture his second consecutive Big Ten title in the final rotation. Hernandez, who's presently tied for ninth nationally (14.883) on the pommel horse, recently captured a second-place finish at Michigan with his second best score of the season (15.100).
Following the two-day Big Ten Championship, the Nittany Lions will take a week off to prepare for the NCAA national championship April 10-12, hosted by Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich.