Vargas Adds Four More All-America Honors to PSU Portfolio
WEST POINT, N.Y.; April 9, 2005 - Penn State event finalists Luis Vargas (Rio Pedros, P.R.), who won his second-straight NCAA all-around title last night, and Santiago Lopez (Cibola del Mar, Mexico) both captured All-America honors during the 2005 NCAA event finals on Saturday night at West Point. Vargas earned four additional All-America nods to add to his total, giving him 11 for his career, the most of any Penn State men's gymnast in at least 25 years. For Lopez, it was his first All-America honor.
After winning the all-around in last night's competition, Vargas qualified individually in four events. In his final appearance in a Nittany Lion uniform, he started the evening on the floor exercise as the first competitor of the night. Vargas completed his routine with a 9.025, which resulted in tie for eighth place with Minnesota's Guillermo Alvarez and his first All-American honor of the night.
Pommel horse, arguably Vargas' strongest event, was up next. The eighth competitor on the apparatus, the high mark was a 9.625 heading into Vargas' routine. The Puerto Rico native did not disappoint, hitting for a 9.787. Now Vargas would have to wait through two more competitors to know if he would take home his first NCAA title in an individual event or not. Up last, Minnesota's Alvarez lent an element of suspense to the championships, eventually posting a 9.762, giving a slim 0.25 advantage to Vargas. It was enough, however, for his second All-American honor of the night and his first pommel horse crown. Vargas is Penn State's first national champion on the apparatus since Brandon Stefaniak won back-to-back titles in 1999 and 2000.
The Big Ten runner-up on the vault, Lopez competed next on the apparatus. In his first NCAA event final appearance, he scored a 9.350 as the fifth competitor in the rotation to put himself in third place with only five competitors remaining. The top eight would earn All-American honors and it was obvious that Lopez had earned himself a place within that number, now it was just a matter of where. After a strong vault from Golden Gopher Alvarez in the ninth spot, Lopez finished in fourth, claiming his first All-America title of his career. It was the third of the night and the fourth of the weekend for the Lions.
Vargas was up next on the high bar. Competing third, he sealed his All-America fate on the apparatus by finishing with a 9.450, which put him in first at the time. Vargas eventually finished in fifth place. The honor was his third of the night with one event remaining.
Only parallel bars remained, and after a slight bobble, Vargas tallied a 9.462 from the judges. In the end, he would finish third, ending his distinguished career with 11 All-America citations in just three years including five during this weekend's championships.
The All-America honors for the duo take Penn State's NCAA-record total to 50 individual titles. Thirty-six different Penn State gymnasts have earned 77 All-America citations since 1980.
The 2005 NCAA men's gymnastics championships will be broadcast on ESPN2 on Wednesday, April 13, at 5 p.m. ET.
2005 NCAA Men's Gymnastics Event Finals