NCAA Championships Mark End of a Successful Season for Men’s Gymnastics
It was quite the thrilling and emotional ride at Rec Hall this weekend, with the Penn State Men’s Gymnastics Team playing host to the NCAA Championships.
Going into the competition ranked first in the nation, the atmosphere inside Rec Hall was a ball of nerves, excitement, and anticipation. Alumni, students, families, and friends of gymnasts filled the stands in what would be the final competition for collegiate men’s gymnastics of the season.
In Friday’s preliminary session, Penn State came out on top of five other competing teams to qualify for Saturday’s Team Final and All-Around Competition.
Saturday’s competition had the largest and liveliest turnout seen in Rec Hall, with much of the fans seemingly plucked out of a TLC show (read: Dance Moms, but gymnastics edition). However, in a rollercoaster of routines and the new, more stringent judging system, the Nittany Lions finished in fourth place in the team final. It was a tough meet as Michigan ran away with the NCAA Team Championship Title.
Despite the loss of the team championship title the night before, all Nittany Lions competing in the Event Final Competition on Sunday persevered with strong performances, where the top eight scores out of 10 competitors for each event are awarded All-American status. Sophomore Craig Hernandez reflected on the weekend, saying, “Of course as a team we had higher expectations of how we were going to do, but we still had shining moments as we had six people obtain All-American status.”
The following members of the Penn State Men’s Gymnastics Team were honored with their respective awards as they stood with pride as the Jurassic Park theme played in the background:
Senior Rosenthal, who was out of competition for the majority of the season due to a shoulder injury, thrilled the crowd and intimidated competitors in his still rings routine to place third in the event, adding another All-American status to his already impressive collection of awards.
Junior Adrian Evans claimed his second consecutive All-American status, coming in fifth place in the pommel horse.
Parker Raque, in his final NCAA Championships, added his fourth and final NCAA All-American status with a solid performance on still rings, placing sixth in the competition.
Felix Aronovich took sixth place in a bendy, and quite honestly “how-the-hell-does-his-body-do-that,” high bar routine to also snag an All-American status. Aronovich was joined by sophomore Matt Felleman on the podium as he took fifth place for his high bar routine.
Sunday’s competition was highlighted by freshman Trevor Howard’s outstanding performance, winning him the floor exercise title. This is the first time in 50 years that a Penn State gymnast has won the floor exercise title, and with three years of eligibility left, it will definitely be exciting to see what he may accomplish in his gymnastics career going forward at Penn State.