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Dec. 12, 2012
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; December 12, 2012-- The 2012 Big Ten Preseason Coaches Poll was revealed by the conference office on Wednesday, Dec. 12 and the Nittany Lions were picked to finish third. Along with the preseason poll, the Big Ten named senior Felix Aronovich (Kiryat Bialik, Isreal) and freshman Trevor Howard (Columbus, Ohio) as "Gymnasts to Watch" for the upcoming season.
Michigan garnered the top spot in the preseason poll, ahead of four-time defending Big Ten and reigning NCAA Champion Illinois. The Nittany Lions gained the third spot, followed by Ohio State, Minnesota, Nebraska and Iowa, in that order.
Aronovich competed at the 2012 Olympic Games in London in the all-around competition for his native country of Israel after placing 11th overall in the all-around at the European Championships. Aronovich earned First Team All-Big Ten honors after placing fourth overall in the all-around at the Big Ten Championships. The former Big Ten Co-Freshman of the Year had his best collegiate season in 2012, setting career highs in five of six individual events and the all-around. The senior has recorded 55 top three finishes in his career, including 29 titles.
Entering his first season of collegiate gymnastics, Howard has already built a solid resume in the gym. The Columbus, Ohio native has competed on a national and international level, winning three individual event titles at the 2012 Junior Olympic National Championships. Competing for the Hocking Valley Gymnastics Center, Howard won the individual crown in the floor exercise, on the vault and parallel bars at the J.O. Nationals, while finishing second in the all-around, third on the rings and fourth on the high bar. Howards is a two-time qualifier for the VISA Championships and competed at the 2012 Winter Cup Challenge in Las Vegas.
Head coach Randy Jepson enters his 22nd season at the helm of the Nittany Lion men's gymnastics program and will return 16 competitors from a team that placed third overall at the 2012 NCAA National Championships. Jepson's 2013 group is ranked No. 4 nationally by GymInfo. A three-time National Coach of the Year, Jepson will rely on his senior leadership from captain Parker Raque (Louisville, Ky.), Aronovich, Tony Beck (Catasauqua, Pa.), Matt Chelberg (Athens, Ohio), Mackenzie Dow (Cranford, N.J.), Nihir Kothari (Malvern, Pa.) and Scott Rosenthal (Clearfield, Pa.).
The 2013 edition of the Lions features seven returning All-America honorees from last season and a pair of national runners-up. Rosenthal will look to cap his senior season with a national championship on the still rings after winning the Big Ten crown and claiming All-America accolades with a second place showing at the NCAA Championships last season. Craig Hernandez (Libertyville, Ill.) was the Big Ten champion on the pommel horse and claimed second in the event at the national meet to garner All-America honors. Aronovich, Adrian Evans (Boulder, Colo.), Kothari, Raque and Nestor Rodriguez (Guaynabo, P.R.) also earned All-America honors with top eight finishes in the individual finals of the 2012 NCAA Championships in 2012.
The Nittany Lions will host their annual Blue/White Showcase on Fri., Dec. 14 at 7 p.m. inside Rec Hall. The event is free and open to the public, with the doors opening at 5:30 p.m. The regular season will start on Jan., 12 when the Blue and White entertain Army at 7 p.m. Single meet and Season tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by contacting the Athletic Ticket Office at 1-800-NITTANY