No. 5 Nittany Lions Place Second at the 2007 Big Ten Men¡¯s Gymnastics Championships
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.; March 30, 2007 ¨C Fifth-ranked Penn State¡¯s bid for a conference title Friday evening fell heartbreakingly short, as the Nittany Lions, with a score of 217.650, finished in second place just .100 behind No. 1 Ohio State at the 2007 Big Ten Men¡¯s Gymnastics Championships in Minneapolis. Host Minnesota, ranked No. 6 nationally, claimed third place with a score of 215.250, followed by No. 2 Michigan (214.350), No. 7 Illinois (211.900), and No. 9 Iowa (210.000).
Penn State put together outstanding performances on the still rings (38.300) and parallel bars (37.350), posting season-high scores in each event, but struggles on the pommel horse and the high bar ultimately proved costly to the Lions¡¯ title aspirations. Nonetheless, their strong overall showing against the nation¡¯s elite men¡¯s gymnastics programs leaves no doubt that the Nittany Lions will be a force to be reckoned with when they host the National Collegiate Championships in two weeks.
With the top eight finishers from tonight¡¯s team competition qualifying for Saturday's competition, Penn State will send five gymnasts to the individual event finals and will have at least one performer vying for a Big Ten title in every event. Advancing to tomorrow evening¡¯s competition are Matt Cohen (Agoura Hills, Calif.) (rings), Derek Helsby (Orlando, Fla.) (parallel bars and high bar), Vladi Klurman (North Miami Beach, Fla.) (pommel horse and still rings), Santiago Lopez (Cibola del Mar, Mex.) (floor exercise and vault), Tommy Ramos (Guaynabo, P.R.) (rings and parallel bars), and Casey Sandy (Brampton, Ont.)(pommel horse)
Four Nittany Lions made strong statements by claiming first place finishes. Sophomore Casey Sandy continued his dominance on the pommel horse, claiming his ninth title in the event this season with a career-high tying score of 9.450. Junior Tommy Ramos will have the opportunity to defend his 2006 still rings title, as he and teammate Matt Cohen scored a 9.650, tying with three others for the top spot. Junior Derek Helsby used a career-best mark of 9.650 to secure first in the parallel bars.
Junior Santiago Lopez placed second in the vault with a season-best score of 9.250. For the second consecutive year, he will seek titles in both the floor exercise and vault.
Vladi Klurman established a new career best on the still rings, drawing a 9.550 from the judges to finish in a tie for sixth. His score of 8.550 and seventh place in the pommel horse gives him another shot at his first Big Ten title.
In the all-around competition, Casey Sandy took second with a score of 54.300, helped by a new career-high mark of 9.450 in the still rings. Derek Helsby, competing as an all-arounder for the first time this season, finished two slots back in fourth (53.350).
The individual event finals portion of the 2007 Big Ten Men's Gymnastics Championships is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday evening. Follow all of the action by visiting www.GoPSUsports.com for live results from Minneapolis.