No. 3 men's gymnastics heads to Puerto Rico Challenge

March 05, 2015

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The No. 3 Penn State men's gymnastics team is traveling to San Juan, P.R., to compete in the Puerto Rico Gymnastics Challenge Friday, March 6. Penn State will compete against the Puerto Rican national team, No. 5 Michigan and No. 18 Temple. The Nittany Lions are coming off a 440.800-435.750 win over No. 6 Iowa on Senior Night last Friday.

Earlier this week, the Big Ten announced that Thad Lawson (Chesapeake, Va.) was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week and Alexis Torres (Catano, Puerto Rico) was named the Big Ten Gymnast of the Week. This is the second career award for both Lawson and Torres.

Lawson won his third floor exercise title of the year with his career-best mark of 15.700. His score moves him into fourth all-time at Penn State.

Torres, a junior, tallied five top-three finishes, an eighth-place finish in the vault and in the all-around, he posted the top score (90.550). Torres climbed the Penn State record books Friday night. He tied Tommy Ramos (2008) for sixth all-time in the still rings (16.000) and he moved into eighth all-time in the all-around event.

Torres will not compete Friday night in the Puerto Rico Gymnastics Challenge as he will represent Puerto Rico Saturday in the American Cup held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. NBC will air live coverage of the American Cup from 1-3 p.m.

Nationally as a team, the Nittany Lions lead the nation in the parallel bars (75.950) and they are also in the top three in overall score (2nd, 444.700), floor exercise (2nd, 75.800), pommel horse (3rd, 75.000), still rings (2nd, 76.350) and vault (3rd, 74.800).

Individually between the six events and the all around, the Nittany Lions have tallied 15 top-15 scores. Craig Hernandez's (Libertyville, Ill.) school record score of 15.950 in the pommel horse is currently tied for first in the nation.

In the parallel bars, Penn State has three of the top-five marks in country, including Torres' score of 15.700, which ranks second. Torres also has the second-best score in the still rings (16.000).

Following the Puerto Rico Challenge, the Nittany Lions head to Lincoln, Neb., for their final meet of the regular season. Penn State will take on No. 6 Iowa, No. 9 Minnesota and No. 11 Nebraska on March 15 inside the Bob Devaney Sports Center.

LAST TIME OUT
FEB. 27, 2015; UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
After competing six gymnasts with only five scores counting for most of the season, the Penn State men's gymnastics team began competing in the Championship format with five gymnasts on each apparatus and all five scores counting. The No. 4 Nittany Lions distanced themselves early against No. 7 Iowa in a 440.800-435.750 victory on Friday night inside of Rec Hall. Following the meet, Penn State honored its five seniors.

In the first rotation for Penn State, the floor exercise, the Nittany Lions grabbed four out of the top five spots. Freshman Thad Lawson (Chesapeake, Va.) led the way with a score of 15.700. Junior Alexis Torres (Catano, Puerto Rico) was close behind with a score of 15.400. With the first rotation in the books, Penn State held a 75.500-71.300 lead over Iowa.

After a rough outing at the Winter Cup, senior Craig Hernandez bounced back with a score of 15.250 to finish first in the pommel horse. Torres posted another second-place finish on the event with his mark of 15.000. After the second rotation, the Nittany Lions led 147.000-144.650.

In the third rotation for Penn State, the still rings, the Nittany Lions grabbed three out of the top five spots. Torres recorded a career-best mark of 16.000 to capture the still rings title. Torres' mark in the still rings is tied for sixth all-time. Also in the still rings, Trevor Howard (Columbus, Ohio) finished second (15.500) and Tristan Duverglas (West Orange, N.J.) placed third (15.000). After the third rotation, the Nittany Lions led 222.200-217.250.

In the fourth rotation for Penn State, the vault, the Nittany Lions grabbed three of the top five spots. Freshman Quest Hayden (Harrisburg, Pa.) tied for first with his mark of 14.950. Lawson recorded a 14.750 to tie for third and Duverglas posted a score of 14.550 to finish fifth. The Nittany Lions held a 295.350-291.600 lead after the fourth rotation.

Iowa's Cyrus Dobre-Mofid won the parallel bars, but the Nittany Lions nabbed spots two through five. Leroy Clarke, Jr. (Maplewood, N.J.) took second (15.200), followed by Torres (15.100), Hayden (15.000) and Duverglas (14.750). Heading into the final rotation for Penn State, the high bar, the Nittany Lions held a 370.050-363.450 lead over the Hawkeyes.

In the high bar, Torres and Clarke, Jr., led the way with their third- (14.650) and fourth- (14.500) place finishes, respectively. The Hawkeyes edged the Nittany Lions, 71.850-70.750 in the high bar event.

Torres' score of 90.550 in the all-around moves him into eighth all-time in the Penn State record books.

LAST YEAR AT PUERTO RICO
SAN JUAN, P.R. - Behind a pair of top individual performances, the No. 5 Penn State men's gymnastics team finished second at the Puerto Rico Challenge Friday evening at the Pedrin Zorilla Coliseum. Posting a team score of 428.550, the Nittany Lions outscored the Puerto Rican national team (405.450), but came up short against top-ranked Michigan, who recorded a top team score of 438.800.

Sophomore Alexis Torres (Catano, Puerto Rico) and senior Wasef Burbar (Arlington Heights, Ill.) led the team with individual titles. Torres swung to a first-place finish on the rings with a season-high score of 15.650. Burbar also recorded a season high score, tying for first on the high bar with a score of 14.750.

Torres also recorded four more top-10 finishes to round out his performance. He turned in a third-place finish in the floor exercise (15.200), before tying for eighth on the vault (14.650).

He concluded the evening with a season-high fourth-place finish on the parallel bars (14.950) and a fifth-place finish on the high bar (13.700). Junior Ismael Sanabria (Caguas, Puerto Rico) tied Torres for eighth on the vault with a season-high score of 14.650.

In addition to a title on the high bar, Burbar also added another top-five score, finishing fifth on the parallel bars (14.450).

Redshirt junior Nestor Rodriguez (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico) turned in a pair of top five finishes. Setting a season-high mark, he finished second on the parallel bars with a score of 15.300. Competing on the vault, he recorded a third-place finish (15.050).

Overall, the Nittany Lions outscored the Puerto Rican national team in every single event, but could not overcome the Wolverines for a team title on any of the apparatuses.

B1G HONORS
Earlier this week (March 2), the Big Ten announced that Thad Lawson (Chesapeake, Va.) was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week and Alexis Torres (Catano, Puerto Rico) was named the Big Ten Gymnast of the Week. This is the second career award for both Lawson and Torres.

Lawson won his third floor exercise title of the year against Iowa with his career-best mark of 15.700. His score moves him into fourth all-time at Penn State.

Torres, a junior, tallied five top-three finishes, an eighth-place finish in the vault and in the all-around, he posted the top score (90.550) against the Hawkeyes. Torres climbed the Penn State record books Friday night. He tied Tommy Ramos (2008) for sixth all-time in the still rings (16.000) and he moved into eighth all-time in the all-around event.

Lawson and Torres were also honored by the Big Ten earlier this season following their performances at the West Point Open.

After helping the No. 6 Penn State men's gymnastics team to its 16th West Point Open team title on Jan. 16, Torres was named the Big Ten Co-Gymnast of the Week and Lawson garnered the Big Ten Freshman of the Week award (Jan. 19).

In the team finals, Torres placed second still rings (15.750), tied for second in the parallel bars (15.200) and finished fifth in the vault (14.350). Torres captured the still rings title in the individual finals with his career-best score of 15.950. His score of 15.950 moves him into seventh all-time at Penn State.

Lawson won the floor exercise event with his score of 15.300 and finished third in the vault with his mark of 14.600. In the team finals, Lawson posted the fifth-best score in the floor exercise (14.850) and the second-best score in the vault (14.650).

After capturing the school record in the pommel horse against Michigan, senior Craig Hernandez (Libertyville, Ill.) was named the Big Ten Co-Gymnast of the Week (Jan. 26).

Hernandez and the No. 4 Nittany Lions defeated the No. 5 Michigan Wolverines Saturday in front of 2,385 fans inside Rec Hall, 444.700-436.350. In the pommel horse event, Penn State posted a score of 75.000, which is the second-best mark all-time for the Nittany Lions.

Individually, Hernandez captured his second pommel horse title of the 2015 season with his school record score of 15.950.

SCHOOL RECORD MARKS
Individually, Penn State has posted 11 top-10 school record book performances during the 2015 season, including Craig Hernandez's school record score of 15.950 in the pommel horse.

As a team, Penn State has tallied 20 top-10 school record book performances in the 2015 season. The Nittany Lions have set the school record in the floor exercise (75.800) and the parallel bars (75.950).

AMERICAN CUP
Penn State junior Alexis Torres has been added to the field of competitors for the 2015 AT&T American Cup.

Torres will be representing his home country of Puerto Rico at the meet. Previously, Torres was a member of the Puerto Rican national team that finished seventh at the Olympic Test Event and he also competed at the 2014 World Championships in Nanning, China.

Last year, Torres was named an All-American in the still rings with his eighth-place finish (14.850) at the NCAA Finals.

Featuring the world's best gymnasts in a one-day all-around competition, the AT&T American Cup is the USA's most prestigious international invitational and part of the International Gymnastics Federation's all-around World Cup Series.

WINTER CUP
Craig Hernandez and Trevor Howard represented the Nittany Lions at the 2015 Winter Cup. Hernandez finished 12th on the pommel horse, while Howard placed 30th in the all-around competition.

THREE TO 350
Head coach Randy Jepson is three wins away from reaching the 350 win plateau.

IN THE RANKINGS
Nationally as a team, the Nittany Lions lead the nation in the parallel bars (75.950) and they are also in the top three in overall score (2nd, 444.700), floor exercise (2nd, 75.800), pommel horse (3rd, 75.000), still rings (2nd, 76.350) and vault (3rd, 74.800).

Individually, between the six events and the all around, the Nittany Lions have tallied 15 top-15 scores. Craig Hernandez's (Libertyville, Ill.) school record score of 15.950 in the pommel horse is currently tied for first in the nation. In the parallel bars, Penn State has three of the top-five marks in the country, including Torres' score of 15.700, which ranks second. Torres also has the second-best score in the still rings (16.000).

FOUR ALL-AMERICANS RETURN
The 2015 Nittany Lion men's gymnastics team will be led by four All-Americans. Craig Hernandez (pommel horse), Trevor Howard (parallel bars) and Alexis Torres (still rings) garnered All-America honors last year, while Matthew Felleman (high bar) garnered All-America honors in 2013.

PENN STATE TO HOST THE 2015 BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIP
The Nittany Lions will host the 2015 Big Ten Championship at Rec Hall on March 27-28. Tickets are available on GoPSUsports.com/tickets.

B1G PRESEASON POLL
The Penn State men's gymnastics team was picked fourth in the Big Ten Men's Gymnastics Preseason Coaches' Poll, as announced by the conference office. Along with the preseason coaches' poll, Trevor Howard (Columbus, Ohio) and Néstor Rodriguez (Guaynabo, P.R.) were selected as "Gymnasts to Watch" for the upcoming season.

CGA PRESEASON POLL
The Nittany Lions entered the 2015 season ranked No. 6 by the College Gymnastics Association (CGA). Penn State received one first place vote.

THREE IN A ROW
Trevor Howard won the 2014 Big Ten still rings, marking the third year in a row a Nittany Lion has won an event at the Big Ten meet.

IT'S ALL ABOUT FAMILY
The Penn State gymnastics program is all about family and there is one special connection within the Nittany Lion family.

Senior Sidney Sanabria-Robles transferred to Penn State after spending a season at LSU and one of the main factors in that move was being close to family. Sanabria-Robles competes for the women's squad, while her brother, Ismael Sanabria, is a part of the Penn State men's program.

SMART LIONS
The College Gymnastics Association (CGA) has released its list of 2014 CGA All-America Scholar-Athletes, and the Nittany Lions were represented with one first team All-American Scholar-Athletes and five second team All-Americans Scholar-Athletes.

In order to garner first team recognition, student-athletes had to achieve a grade point average of at least 3.50 while members of the second team attained between a 3.20 and 3.499. The Blue and White placed 10th as a team in the NCAA and fourth among Big Ten squads with a combined GPA of 3.024.

Adrian Evans led Penn State with first team Scholar-Athlete All-America honors as he had a GPA between 3.70 and 3.799.

Evans is a four-time CGA All-America Scholar-Athlete recipient and a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree. During the 2014 gymnastics season, Evans was named a Nissen-Emery Finalist, team captain, the recipient of the Ernest B. McCoy Award and the 2013-14 Big Ten Medal of Honor recipient.

Dominic DiFulvio, Preston Gall, Craig Hernandez and Ingvar Jochumsson all garnered second team Scholar-Athlete All-America honors as they tallied GPAs between 3.30 and 3.399. Franz Card also received second team Scholar-Athlete All-America honors with his GPA between 3.20 and 3.299.

Last year, Evans and Jochumsson were both named First Team CGA All-Academic Scholar-Athletes, while Gall and Hernandez were on the second team.

NEXT TIME OUT
Following the Puerto Rico Challenge, the Nittany Lions head to Lincoln, Neb., for their final meet of the regular season. Penn State will take on No. 6 Iowa, No. 9 Minnesota and No.11 Nebraska on March 15 inside the Bob Devaney Sports Center.

Last Updated March 05, 2015