Men's Gymnasts Advance to Team Finals
WEST POINT, N.Y.; April 7, 2005 - The defending NCAA champion Penn State men's gymnastics team earned a spot in the NCAA team finals on Friday, April 8, by posting a 220.350 to finish third in the first qualifying session on Thursday. In addition to the Lions, Ohio State and Michigan also earned a trip to the finals. The other three teams will be decided during the second qualifier, which will be held Thursday evening at the United State Military Academy at 7 p.m.
Take away the NCAA mark and session one of the National Qualifier at Army on Thursday resembled the Big Ten Invitational with four of six conference squads competing. Conference champ Ohio State, Michigan, Minnesota and Penn State all drew session one assignments, beginning the day at the Hollendar Center with a Big Ten flair. Only Penn State was returning as the defending NCAA champion, however.
After a first-round bye, Penn State started the competition on the floor exercise. Freshman Derek Helsby (Orlando, Fla.) began for the Lions, posting an 8.900 that PSU would end up counting. Nissen-Emery Award finalist Luis Vargas (Rio Pedros, P.R.) was up third for the Lions with his first performance since tearing a ligament in his thumb vs. Williams & Mary on March 13. His score of 9.275 made him one of three Lions to finish the event with a 9.000 or higher. Junior Chad Buczek (Bridgewater, Mass.) completed a great floor exercise with a then-session high 9.425 to lead the Lions. Santiago Lopez's (Cibola del Mar, Mexico) score also counted, with the freshman tallying a 9.000. By its completion, Penn State tallied a 36.600 to begin the day.
Pommel horse was up next for the Nits, with Vargas and specialist Brad Spicer (Fairfax, Va.) both scoring 9.000 or higher. Vargas had a strong performance, with the Puerto Rican Olympian posting a then-session high 9.675 to lead the team. Spicer scored a 9.075, with a pair of 8.825s from Ludwig Kern (Annapolis, Md.) and Helsby also counting. All told, the Lions accumulated a 36.375 on the apparatus.
Entering their third rotation with a combined score of 72.975, the Lions hit for five ring performances that scored 9.000 or higher. Sophomore Matt Cohen (Agoura Hills, Calif.) led with a 9.450, with Vargas and Tobin hitting for a pair of 9.375s. In his first NCAA competition, freshman Tommy Ramos (Guaynabo, P.R.) scored a 9.275 for the final score towards the Lions? team total of 37.475 on the apparatus.
Through three events, the Lions had a team mark of 110.450. The vault, probably the strongest event for the Lions at the Big Ten championships, was up next. Helsby began again with an 8.925 and senior captain Tobin executed soundly through the dismount to post the second-highest score of his career, a 9.500. Despite an injured shoulder, Buczek still managed a 9.300 towards the team total. After finishing second at Big Tens, Santiago Lopez finished with a solid 9.525 Even with an uncharacteristically shaky vault that earned Vargas only an 8.750, Penn State still scored a 37.500 as a team.
In rotation six, carrying a 147.950 through four events, Penn State moved to the parallel bars. The event proved to be a tough one for the Lions as it was most of the year, and PSU eventually finished with a 35.800 as a team. Senior Jerker Taudien (Eskilstuna, Sweden) began Penn State's scoring efforts with a season-high 8.700. Helsby added an 8.875, while Ramos pitched-in another uncharacteristically low score for the Lions, an 8.600. Vargas did not disappoint on one of his strongest events, however, finishing with a session-high 9.625 and putting a bright spot on Penn State's team performance on the apparatus.
Entering the seventh and final rotation, the scoring finally evened out from team?s byes and after a level playing field at six events, the Lions were in second place with a 183.750. It would only take a top three finish for the Lions to continue on to defend their title, but the team would have to come through with a solid high bar routine.
Vargas, in his final NCAA competition, and Bowman highlighted the rotation with a pair of performances worth a 9.400 to the judges. The Lions? rotation was wrought with falls, however, leaving Penn State with vast room for improvement in tomorrow's team finals. Tobin (8.950) and Helsby (8.850) also earned scores that contributed to the Lions? team mark of 36.600 in the event.
When the chalk settled after session one, it would be Ohio State (220.900), Michigan (220.375) and Penn State (220.350) that would advance to tomorrow's NCAA Team Finals, which begin at 7 p.m. The top three in each event from each session not attached to a team will also advance to Friday night's team and all-around championship. Session two begins tonight at 7 p.m., determining the final three teams that will advance to the finals.
On the day, defending NCAA all-around champ Vargas scored a session-leading 56.025 in the all-around.
Live results throughout the NCAA championship weekend can be found by going to www.GoPSUsports.com.
Finals Results- NCAA Qualifier, Session One
Team/Finish FX PH SR V PB HB Total Michigan 37.675 35.875 37.050 37.050 35.700 36.650 220.375 Minnesota 36.625 36.050 36.675 36.975 35.475 35.600 217.400 Penn State 36.600 36.375 37.475 37.500 35.800 36.600 220.350 Ohio State 37.575 35.800 36.875 36.850 35.800 38.000 220.900 Stanford 35.950 36.050 37.875 36.875 35.025 36.600 218.375 William & Mary 34.750 33.250 35.600 35.825 34.600 34.500 208.525
Penn State Individual Highs and Session Highs By Event- NCAA Qualifier, Session One
Event PSU High Score Session High, School Score Floor Chad Buczek 9.425 Guillermo Alvarez, Minn. 9.875 Pommel Horse Luis Vargas 9.675 Guillermo Alvarez, Minn. 9.700 Rings Matt Cohen 9.450 Nyika White, Temple 9.725 Vault Santiago Lopez 9.525 Guillermo Alvarez, Minn. 9.650 Parallel Bars Luis Vargas 9.625 Luis Vargas, Penn State 9.625 High Bar Matt Bowman 9.400 Willie Ito 9.800 Luis Vargas 9.400 All-Around Luis Vargas 56.075 Luis Vargas, Penn State 56.075