Kevin Tan Captures Big Ten Rings Title for the Second-Straight Year
COLUMBUS, Ohio, March 29, 2003 - Penn State's Kevin Tan (Fremont, Calif.) successfully defended his Big Ten individual title, winning the rings crown for the second-straight year, scoring a 9.725. Head coach Randy Jepson was named conference's Coach of the Year by his peers at the conclusion of the meet while Tan and freshman Luis Vargas (San Piedras, P.R.) were All-Big Ten team selections.
Tan becomes the first Nittany Lion to win an individual Big Ten title twice and is only the second Penn Stater to earn a spot on the All-Big Ten team twice since Mike Masucci was named in 1992 and 1993. The top-ranked ringsman in the nation the last three weeks, Tan is a two-time All-American on the apparatus and was last year's national runner up. He also placed fifth on parallel bars with an 8.825 and horse with a 9.175, and scored an 8.700 on high bar to place seventh.
Vargas earned second-place honors on horse (9.400) and parallel bars (9.000) en route to the conference recognition. He was also eighth on high bar with an 8.300.
Penn State had a meet-high 15 gymnasts qualify for the individual event finals. All-American senior Kevin Donohue (Saddle River, N.J.) was sixth on floor (8.900) and fifth on high bar (8.950).
Sophomore Ludwig Kern (Annapolis, Md.) qualified for the vault finals for the second-straight year and was fourth with a 9.275. Classmate Steve Tobin (Cherry Hill, N.J.) made his first-career appearance at the individual finals, scoring an 8.850 for ninth place.
Senior captain Jose Palacios (Gijon, Spain) was seventh on floor (8.825) and both freshman Chad Buczek (Bridgewater, Mass.) and senior Zack Roeder (Montrose, Pa.) placed eighth on rings and floor, respectively. Buczek notched a 9.100 while Roeder scored a 7.800.
Jepson earns Big Ten Coach of the Year honors for the first time in his career. He guided the Nittany Lions to their first-ever conference team title on Friday night with a score of 220.550. This season, Penn State posted its first undefeated regular season since 1987.
"The team put out a great showing at the Big Ten Championship. I am thrilled to see them attain one of their goals which was to win a Big Ten title which we have never done," said Jepson. "There were some great individual performances. Kevin Tan was outstanding, capping the championship with his second rings title. Luis Vargas also performed very well with two second-place showings and being named to the All-Big Ten team. I am very excited about the win and with the momentum heading into the NCAA Championships. Hopefully, the guys can stay healthy and make a solid run at the national title."
Since the Nittany Lions captured the Big Ten title, they earned the conference's automatic bid into the NCAA Championships, Apr. 11-13. The top 12 teams in the nation participating at the championships will be announced on Apr. 1.