Men's gymnastics seeks third conference crown at Big Ten Championships

April 06, 2012

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Top-ranked Penn State will seek the program's third conference title when it competes at the 2012 Big Ten Men's Gymnastics Championships from April 6-7 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa on the host campus of the University of Iowa. Penn State will battle the other members of the nation's elite men's gymnastics conference for team and individual titles over the course of the two-day event and strive to gain momentum as it pursues its NCAA-record 13th national championship in two weeks.

The team and all-around competition will take place on Friday, April 6 with the individual event finals set for Saturday, April 7. Competition on both days is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. ET.

The Big Ten Network will broadcast the 2012 Big Ten Men's Gymnastics Championships live to a national television audience for the fifth straight year. The championships will also be rebroadcast at the following times:

Saturday, April 7 (team finals - 1:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. ET)
Sunday, April 8 (individual finals - 9:30 a.m. ET)
Monday, April 9 (team finals - 5 p.m. ET)
Tuesday, April 10 (team finals - 2 a.m. ET)
Wednesday, April 11 (individual finals - 4:30 p.m. ET)
Thursday, April 12 (individual finals - 4:30 a.m. ET)

Penn State enters the postseason as one of collegiate men's gymnastics hottest teams after posting the nation's highest scores in each of the last two regular season meets, including a program-record 360.600 in the finale versus Temple. Penn State is getting significant contributions from every class, particularly its group of six juniors, each of which are ranked nationally in at least one event. In the floor exercise, junior Parker Raque (Louisville, Ky.) is the Nittany Lions' anchor, placing in the top two in each of this season's 10 meets, including seven first place finishes. Craig Hernandez (Libertyville, Ill.), ranked No. 1 in the pommel horse, emerged as a force to be reckoned with in his freshman campaign, breaking the Penn State program record in the event this season. Sophomore Preston Gall (Columbus, Ohio) provides the Lions with a dual threat on horse. Junior Scott Rosenthal (Clearfield, Pa.) has dominated the still rings in 2012, surpassing the 16.000 threshold five times while holding the No. 1 ranking for nearly the entire season. Senior team captain Miguel Pineda (Galloway, Ohio) combines with Rosenthal to headline the nation's No. 1-ranked still rings team. Freshman Tristan Duverglas (West Orange, N.J.) owns three of Penn State's top three scores in the vault but Raque and junior Matt Chelberg (Athens, Ohio) will also be factors. Junior Felix Aronovich (Kiryat Bialik, Israel) represents Penn State's best hope in the parallel bars. Aronovich and sophomore Wasef Burbar (Arlington Heights, Ill.), an All-American in the event in 2011, will serve as the foundation of the high bar line-up. A late season surge by Aronovich has placed him among the nation's top all-arounders. He scored a career-high 89.400 and a 89.100 in the final two weeks of the regular season.

As a team, Penn State is ranked in the top six nationally in every event, including No. 1 in the pommel horse and still rings. Individually,15 different Nittany Lions or 88 percent of the roster (among those who have competed in 2012) own top 20 rankings. Penn State has at least one individual nationally ranked in each event, including its entire pommel horse line-up and five still rings competitors.

Competition at the 2012 Big Ten Championships promises to be fierce, as six of the seven Big Ten members enter the annual conference postseason event ranked among the top 10 teams in the nation. Top-ranked Penn State, which has not experienced defeat since late January, owns the nation's overall top team score (360.600) this season. The Nittany Lions' key to success is its overall depth and its reliance on contributions from a variety of competitors rather than one or two headliners. Three-time defending Big Ten champion No. 4 Illinois' roster features one of the nation's top gymnasts in senior Paul Ruggeri and the conference's top freshmen in C.J. Maestas. Fifth-ranked Minnesota is a young team that has showed consistent improvement as the year has progressed. The Golden Gophers are ranked No. 1 in the nation in the vault. Ohio State will challenge the Big Ten field for the first time under the direction of rookie head coach Rustam Sharipov. The No. 6 Buckeyes possess the nation's top team score in the pommel horse in 2012, a 61.050. Michigan, ranked eighth nationally, will undoubtedly be a major factor in the chase for the conference crown. The Wolverines are fronted by 2011 all-around champion sophomore Sam Mikulak and freshman Adrian de los Angeles. Both standouts are members of the U.S. Senior National Team. Conference newcomer No. 9 Nebraska will look to make an impression in its first Big Ten Championships while host Iowa, ranked No. 11, will be motivated to perform well in front of its home crowd. In all, 48 gymnasts ranked nationally in the top 20 will compete. The meet will also showcase Nissen-Emery Award finalists Ty Echard (Ohio State), Miguel Pineda (Penn State), DJ Repp (Minnesota), and Paul Ruggeri (Illinois).

Fans can also follow all of the action of both days of competition at the 2012 Big Ten Men's Gymnastics Championships on the Internet with live scoring updates. Find links on the front page (click on Schedule/Results) of the official website of Nittany Lion athletics,, and on the men's gymnastics schedule page.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated April 06, 2012