Top-ranked men's gymnastics hosts NCAA Championships

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The final competition of the season for the top-ranked Penn State men's gymnastics team will come on the Nittany Lions' home turf and in front of a partisan crowd when the 2013 NCAA Men's Gymnastics Championships arrives at Rec Hall starting on Friday, April 19 and running through Sunday, April 21.

The Nittany Lions will begin their march towards an NCAA-record 13th national championship at 7 p.m. on Friday, April 19 evening in the second session of qualifying. With two qualifying sessions, the top three teams from each session will advance to team finals on Saturday, April 20 with a champion being crowed at the conclusion of the night, which starts at 7 p.m. The individual finals will wrap up the championships on Sunday, April 21 at 2 p.m.

Security Notice: Except for authorized personnel, no one entering Rec Hall during the NCAA Men's Gymnastics Championships (April 19-21) will be permitted to bring in any bags, backpacks, umbrellas, strollers, purses or diaper bags. Anyone with a medical need to carry a bag should place their medical supplies in a clear, one gallon, zip-close style plastic bag. Parents with a need to carry diapers and wipes also may place their supplies in a clear, one-gallon zip-close style plastic bag so the contents are visible.

Parking Information: All spectators can park free of charge in parking lot RED-A or the Nittany Parking Deck for the competitions. For the Friday 1 p.m. session all patrons identified as NCAA Gymnastics fans will be given an event permit to park in these two lots. These will be free of charge for the spectators. In addition, free campus LOOP service will also be available for spectators directed to park further from Rec Hall as the lots fill up.

Handicapped Patron parking is available in a small, lot off of Burrowes Road and in an additional small, metered lot off of Curtin Road. Designated ADA parking spaces are also available in the Nittany Parking Deck. A State issued handicapped placard must be displayed. Meters will be bagged designating these spaces for ADA parking during the Championship sessions.

Penn State has stood atop the national rankings from the opening weekend of the season and felt their first defeat of the year when they finished second at the Big Ten Championships last weekend in Minneapolis. The Nittany Lions tallied 343.050 points and fell short of Michigan's 438.900 when they tallied their second lowest scores of the season on the parallel bars and high bar. The night also included the top team scores on the pommel horse and the still rings, two of their top events in 2013.

On the national scene, the Lions own the top overall team average score in the country at 439.160 and are tops on the pommel horse (72.605), still rings (74.610), parallel bars (72.725) and high bar (72.130).

Craig Hernandez (Libertyville, Ill.) was the lone individual event championship for Penn State at last weekend's Big Ten Championships when he topped the pommel horse lineup by over five one-hundredths of a point. It was the second straight title for the sophomore, who was an All-American in the event last season and he enters the championships with the top season average (15.007) on the apparatus, which includes the nation's top pommel horse score of 15.750.

Parker Raque (Louisville, Ky.) will look to return to the All-America list for the third straight season when he makes his final passes inside Rec Hall this weekend. The senior is a two-time All-America on the floor exercise and enters the weekend with a 14.660 season average on the mat, ranking second on the team and 29th in the NCAA. Along with his performance on the floor, Raque is among the top-15 nationally on the still rings, fifth, and on the vault, 14th.

Wasef Burbar (Arlington Heights, Ill.) enters the weekend as one of the top ranked performer on the high bar in the NCAA and will look to return to the All-America team after earning the distinction in the event as a freshman in 2011. He is one of only four gymnasts to post a score of 16.000 or better on an apparatus this season when he flew to a 16.000 score on the high bar vs. Springfield College and owns the second highest scoring average in the country at 14.611.

Burbar's teammate, Matthew Felleman (Medway, Mass.), tops the national average charts with a mark of 14.918 on the high bar. He has posted six scores of better than 14.700 and only two scores below that mark. His three scores of 15.000 or better are second only to Burbar's four scores above that mark. Mackenzie Dow (Cranford, N.J.) is also among the top-20 in the nation on the high bar, ranking 18th, with an average score of 14.500 in six routines and Felix Aronovich (Kiryat Bialik, Israel) ranks 25th and averages a score of 14.457.

Penn State has hosted the NCAA Men's Gymnastics National Championships eight times in program history, with seven of those being hosted at Rec Hall. The Nittany Lions have won an NCAA record 12 national crowns, including championships on their home floor the last time they hosted the event in 2007 and first time the event came to Happy Valley in 1960. 

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Last Updated April 19, 2013