UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Head Coach Randy Jepson announced the signing of three recruits for the 2016-17 campaign Friday, Dec. 4.
The 2016-17 freshman class includes: Stephen Nedoroscik (Worcester, Ma./Worcester Technical High School), Favian Valdez (Kearny, N.Y./U.S. Gymnastics Development Center II) and Sam Zakutney (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada).
“We are very pleased to announce the signing of three outstanding talents,” stated Jepson. These individuals will step in and make an immediate impact on our team and assist us in our goal of garnering Big Ten Conference and NCAA Titles.
Nedoroscik comes to Happy Valley as one of the best pommel horse performers in the country. The Worcester, Ma. native is an all-around gymnast who has competed at the national level on numerous occasions. He earned the gold medal at the state, regional and national meet on the pommel horse in the 2015 season. Nedoroscik was prepped at Worcester Technical High School where his trade is Electro Mechanical. He has learned how to construct electrical and mechanical devices, using 3D printers, Arduinos and PLC’s.
“Stephen Nedoroscik is one of the premier pommel horse performers in the country,” commented Jepson. “We are pleased to have him in the fold as he looks to follow in the footsteps of Mark Sohn, Brandon Stefaniak and Luis Vargas as NCAA Pommel horse champions.
Valdez makes the trek to Penn State with extensive Junior Olympic National Team experience. The Kearny, N.Y. native is a five-time Junior Olympic Qualifier, making an appearance from 2009-13, while being a four-time Future Stars National Development Team member and all-state champion. Valdez notched all-state three times in Florida before being the 2013 all-state champion in New Jersey in 2013. The all-around competitor was also a three time all-around regional champion and a two-time all-around Future Stars National Champion. Finally, Valdez was a member of the Junior Olympic National Team on two occasions. He became the youngest national competitor at age 10 when he competed as a level nine gymnast at the Junior National Championships in the all-around. Valdez earned 14 first-place finishes from 2007-14 in events across the country as a level six-10 gymnast, while placing third on the parallel bars at the Junior Olympic National Championships as a level nine gymnast.
“Favian Valdez is a very solid competitor with Junior National Team experience, noted Jepson. “He has no real weak event and has a large skill base that we look forward to expanding even further. I am especially excited about his capabilities on pommel horse and what he will bring to the team there.”
Zakutney travels to Penn State after competing for the Canadian National Team where he was a four-time Elite Canada all-around champion and a three-time all-around national champion. In 2015, Zakutney helped Team Ontario to a gold medal at the Canada Games and earned an individual gold medal on the parallel bars in 2015. The Ontario, Canada native also captured the silver medal in the high bar and bronze medal in the all-around at the 2015 Canadian National Championships, while earning gold in the vault and parallel bars and bronze in the all-around in the 2014 championships. Zakutney has traveled the world, representing Canada including: Berlin, where he placed third on three events, Brazil for the Junior Pan-American Championships and Japan for the 2015 Junior Japan International Gymnastics Competition. He helped Canada to a bronze finish at the Junior Pan-American Championships and nabbed an 11th-place finish in the all-around and a bronze medal on the high bar in Japan. Finally, Zakutney received the Ottawa Sports Award for best artistic gymnast three times and has won 11 gold medals in his time competing on the Canadian National Team.
“Sam Zakutney is one of the most stylish gymnasts we have seen in quite some time,” noted Jepson. He is a Canadian Junior National standout and is also an outstanding student. Sam also has no weak events. His floor, parallel bars and high bar are outstanding. As Sam gains physical strength he will be an outstanding collegiate all-around performer.”