Men's gymnastics hosts 2015 Big Ten Championships

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- After tallying a second-place finish at Nebraska two weeks ago, the No. 2 Penn State men's gymnastics team is ready to host the 2015 Big Ten Men's Gymnastics Championships inside Rec Hall March 27-28. Both nights start at 7 p.m. Friday's individual session includes team and all-around competition while Saturday's session features the individual event finals. The Big Ten Network will broadcast both sessions live with Bernie Guenther (play-by-play) and John Roethlisberger (analyst) on the call.

The Nittany Lions are looking to win their third Big Ten title, but will be up against tough competition. Five other Big Ten schools are ranked in the top-10, including the two-time defending champion No. 4 Michigan. Also in the Big Ten, Illinois ranks fifth while Ohio State, Minnesota and Iowa rank seventh though ninth. Nebraska is just outside the top-10 with their 11th-place ranking.

Last year at the Big Ten meet, the Nittany Lions tallied a score of 438.000 en route to a third-place finish. Michigan won its second-straight title with its score of 448.200. Trevor Howard (Columbus, Ohio) captured Penn State's eighth Big Ten title in the still rings with his then-career-best score of 15.825.

Nationally as a team, the Nittany Lions rank in the top-10 in all six events, including four averages that rank in the top-three. Penn State ranks second in team score average (429.069), third in the floor exercise score average (73.906), third in the still rings score average (74.300) and Penn State is also second in parallel bars score average (73.506).

Individually between the six events and the all-around the Nittany Lions have tallied 14 top-15 scoring averages. Junior Alexis Torres ranks second in the still rings (15.631) and the parallel bars (15.086) and Trevor Howard ranks in the top-10 in three events. Howard is seventh in the all-around (85.550), fourth in the still rings (15.336) and fifth in the parallel bars (14.925).

Penn State returns two Big Ten champions in Trevor Howard (still rings) Craig Hernandez (pommel horse). Howard won the still rings event last year and Hernandez is a two-time champion in the pommel horse (2012-13).

LAST TIME OUT
LINCOLN, Neb.; March 15, 2015 - The No. 5 Penn State men's gymnastics team posted a second-place finish in its regular season finale Saturday against No. 9 Iowa, No. 6 Minnesota and No. 11 Nebraska inside the Bob Devaney Sports Center. Minnesota finished first with an overall score of 434.000 followed by Penn State (432.100), Iowa (429.250) and host Nebraska (426.050).

The Nittany Lions won three individual events and captured two team titles. In the all-around, Penn State posted the top two scores as Alexis Torres (Catano, Puerto Rico) recorded the highest score of the day, 89.500, followed by senior Matthew Felleman (Medway, Mass.), who posted a career-best score of 86.400 in his first all-around competition of the year.

Sophomore Dominic DiFulvio (Marietta, N.Y.) led the Nittany Lions in the floor exercise as he tied his season-best score of 15.400 to capture his first floor exercise title of the season. At the West Point Open Team Finals in early January, DiFulvio finished first in the floor exercise with his score of 15.400. Also in the floor exercise, Felleman tied for fourth with his score of 15.000.

Torres went onto capture his fifth still rings title of the 2015 season Sunday. Torres claimed the event title with his score of 15.900. He now has recorded scores of 15.900 or better three times this year. His mark ties him for ninth all-time in the Penn State record books. Along with Torres, sophomore Leroy Clarke, Jr. (Maplewood, N.J.) and Felleman also posted top-10 finishes in the still rings. Clarke, Jr., finished fifth with a score of 14.900 and Felleman tied for seventh with his season-best score of14.800.

Four Nittany Lions posted top-10 scores in the high bar event. Along with capturing the still rings title, Torres placed first in the high bar with his career-best score of 15.200. Clarke, Jr., placed eighth (14.200), freshmen Thad Lawson (Chesapeake, Va.) and Quest Hayden (Harrisburg, Pa.) tied for ninth with their career-best scores of 14.150. As a team, the Nittany Lions recorded a season-best score of 71.550 to finish first in the high bar.

In the pommel horse, Penn State recorded a pair of top-10 finishes by Torres and freshman Colin Coates (Emmaus, Pa.). Torres tallied a score of 14.200 (fifth) and Coates finished seventh with his score of 14.150. Despite a pair of top-10 finishes in the pommel horse, the Nittany Lions recorded a season-low team score of 68.700 in the pommel horse.

Keeping pace with the afternoon, the Nittany Lions were led in the vault and parallel bars by Torres and Felleman. Torres finished fifth with his score of 15.000 and Felleman tied for sixth with a season-best score of 14.800. In the parallel bars, Torres placed fourth (14.800) and Felleman finished ninth (14.450). The Nittany Lions' team score of 72.000 in parallel bars was the top team mark Sunday.

In all, Torres posted five top five finishes, including two titles and Felleman recorded four top-10 finishes.

Overall as a team, the Nittany Lions recorded scores of 73.650 (floor exercise), 68.700 (pommel horse), 72.950 (still rings), 73.250 (vault), 72.000 (parallel bars) and 71.550 (high bar).

LAST YEAR AT THE BIG TEN MEET
LINCOLN, Neb.; Team Finals (March 28, 2014)
- Led by a top score on the vault from junior Tristan Duverglas (West Orange, N.J.), the No. 7 Penn State men's gymnastics team opened their postseason run with a third-place finish at the third place finish at the Bob Devaney Center in Lincoln, Neb.

The Nittany Lions' total team score of 438.000 ranked third behind Ohio State (441.050) and eventual Big Ten Champion, Michigan (448.200). Illinois and Minnesota rounded out the top five finishers with scores of 435.350 and 429.150, respectively.

As a team, Penn State finished within the top five in all six events. The Nittany Lions registered a second-place finish on the vault (75.100) and a third-place finish on the parallel bars (73.900), while also finishing fourth on the floor exercise (73.700), pommel horse (71.450), rings (74.00) and high bar (69.850).

Duverglas led the squad tying for first on the vault, recording a 15.300 in the first session. Ranked seventh nationally on the apparatus, Duverglas posted his third highest score of the season to for the top score. Reigning Big Ten individual champion junior Craig Hernandez (Libertyville, Ill.) finished third on the pommel horse, recording a 15.100.

Sophomore Trevor Howard (Columbus, Ohio) finished fifth overall in his sixth all-around performance of the season. He recorded a pair of top five finishes on the way to his second highest all-around score in 2014 (87.200). Howard highlighted the evening with a second-place finish on the rings, swinging to a score of 15.700 and a fifth-place finish on the vault (15.150). Howard turned in two more top-10 finishes with a six-place finish in the floor exercise (15.150) and a seventh-place finish on the parallel bars (15.100).

Redshirt junior Nestor Rodriguez (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico) also posted a pair of top-10 finishes, coming in at fifth on the parallel bars (15.300) and eighth on the vault (15.050). Rodriguez's performance on the parallel bars matches a season-high effort.

Individual Finals (March 29, 2014) - Sophomore Trevor Howard (Columbus, Ohio) headlined the group of Nittany Lion competitors in the individual finals of the 2014 Big Ten Championships with his first conference title of his career on the still rings Saturday evening at the Bob Devaney Center in Lincoln, Neb.

Howard swung to a career-high score of 15.825 to finish with the top score on the rings. The title marks the eighth time in program history a Nittany Lion has claimed the top spot on the rings in the individual finals at the Big Ten Championship, and first since Scott Rosenthal in 2012.

Howard also added another top-five finish, as he recorded a fifth place finish on the vault with a score of 14.875. The three-time Big Ten Gymnast of the Week earned First Team All-Big Ten honors for his performances this season.

Junior Craig Hernandez (Libertyville, Ill.) closed out the weekend with a runner-up finish on the pommel horse, recording 15.175 to place second behind Minnesota's Ellis Mannon. Hernandez earned Second Team All-Big Ten honors for his standout performances on the pommel horse this season.

Competing on the vault, junior Tristan Duverglas (West Orange, N.J.) recorded a ninth-place finish with a score of 14.375. Redshirt junior Nestor Rodriguez (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico) competed on both the vault and the parallel bars, placing highest on the bars with a score of 14.825, which slotted him eighth. Senior Wasef Burbar (Arlington Heights, N.J.) also claimed an eighth-place finish with a score of 14.575 on the high bar.

Although he did not compete in the individual finals this evening, senior Preston Gall (Columbus, Ohio) earned conference recognition as he was selected as Penn State's sportsmanship honoree.
Ohio State led the way with three top finishers in the second session, securing individual titles on the vault, high bar and parallel bars. Illinois, Minnesota and Penn State grabbed one individual title each on the floor, pommel horse and rings, respectively.

RETURNING B1G CHAMPIONS
Penn State returns two Big Ten champions in Trevor Howard (still rings) Craig Hernandez (pommel horse). Howard won the still rings event last year and Hernandez is a two-time champion in the pommel horse (2012-13).

AGAINST THE FIELD
Illinois: Illinois handed Penn State its first loss of the year on Feb. 14 (441.300-434.500).
Iowa: Penn State defeated Iowa in both meetings (440.800-435.750 and 432.100-429.250) this season.
Michigan: Penn State defeated Michigan 444.700-436.350 on Jan. 24, but fell 431.000-425.000 on March 6.
Minnesota: Minnesota handed PSU its third loss of the year on March 15 (434.000-432.100) in their lone meeting.
Nebraska: Penn State took down Nebraska in the regular season finale (432.100-426.050).
Ohio State: Penn State defeated Ohio State on Feb. 6 by a score of 443.600-431.400.

B1G HONORS
During the 2015 season, three Nittany Lions have garnered Big Ten weekly honors. Craig Hernandez and Alexis Torres have both been named Gymnast of the Week and Thad Lawson has tallied three freshman of the week honors. 

Last Updated March 26, 2015