Men's Gymnastics Places Second in Qualifying Session, Advances to Team Finals of NCAA Championships
NORMAN, Okla.; April 6, 2006 - On the strength of standout individual performances by sophomores Tommy Ramos (Guaynabo, P.R.) and Derek Helsby (Orlando, Fla.), Penn State garnered a team score of 213.450 to place second in the first of two qualifying sessions Thursday at the 2006 NCAA Championships in Norman, Okla. With the top three teams advancing from each session, the Nittany Lions have earned the opportunity to vie for the program's 12th national championship Friday evening.
"We're very excited to be in the finals," said Randy Jepson, Penn State head coach. "We had a slow start but gain momentum and finished strong. We know what we have to do tomorrow and are prepared to compete."
Stanford (215.900), which finished first in four of the six events, and Iowa (212.425) also qualified for the team finals from session one. Big Ten Champion and third-ranked Ohio State placed fourth and did not make the field. In the second qualifying session, defending national champion Oklahoma (217.225), Illinois (214.775), and California (213.900) advanced to the team finals.
Big Ten rings champion Tommy Ramos took advantage of the opportunity to demonstrate his skill on a national stage, tying Stanford's Peter Derman for first place in the event with a score of 9.500. Ramos also helped Penn State post a team season best mark on the high bar, finishing in second with a 9.350.
Derek Helsby continued his routine of delivering in the clutch, placing second in the all-around with a score of 54.000. Helsby placed among the top 10 competitors in four of six events, coming in second on the pommel horse and third on rings. Helsby also lent solid scores on the high bar (9.225), vault (9.000), and parallel bars (8.950).
Another member of the stellar sophomore class, Santiago Lopez (Cibola del Mar, Mex.) contributed a score of 9.375 in the floor exercise to place third. Senior captain Chad Buczek (Bridgewater, Mass.) competed in two events and posted strong scores in both, earning a 9.300 in the floor exercise to tie for fourth place and a 9.200 on the vault, finishing in a tie for fifth. Justin Miklos was also instrumental in Penn State's pommel horse effort, taking sixth with a score of 8.500.
Junior Matt Cohen (Agoura Hills, Calif.) also competed in the all-around and finished with a 51.650. Shaun Antonio (Rio Rancho, N.M.), the sole freshman to compete in the all-around for Penn State, earned a 50.075.
The 2006 NCAA Championships will continue on Fri., April 7 at 8:00 p.m. ET with the team finals. The nation's all-around champion will also be crowned that evening. Penn State will look to capture its third consecutive all-around title after former Nittany Lion Luis Vargas won the last two. Performers that place in the top 10 in each event during the team finals competition advance to the event finals.
On Sat, April 8 at 8:00 p.m. ET, the competition will conclude with the individual event finals.