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Penn State Men’s Gymnastics Headed To National Championship

The Penn State men’s gymnastics team is headed to the NCAA Championships after a third-place finish at the qualifiers in Norman, Okla. The Nittany Lions finished with 432.900 points, behind only Stanford and U.C. Berkley in the six-team field.

Penn State’s Trevor Howard paved the way for the Lions’ comeback bid, placing first overall in the floor exercise while setting a career-high with a score of 15.800 points. Howard managed a first-place finish in the rings with a score of 16.00. Coach Randy Jepson sprinted over to hug Howard after his performance, and had some high praise for the 5-foot-5 junior.

“It was a great moment, great moment,” Jepson said. “You work so hard to have a kid rise to the occasion and all this adversity.”

Howard battled a sore thumb and hadn’t trained in nearly three weeks. “That was his first parallel bar routine he’s done and he rocked it,” Jepson said. “You can’t ask for more than that.”

The Lions dominated the rings event, claiming all three top spots. Craig Hernandez finished sixth in the pommel, and Néstor Rodriguez rounded out the top-12 in the same event. Penn State was also able to secure two spots in the top-1o of the vault competition. Again, Howard, still nursing his thumb injury, led the Nittany Lions with a fifth-place finish. Tristen Duverglass earned the No. 10 spot.

Penn State had less success in the vaults. In the H bars, Quest Hayden managed at 16th place finish, Penn State’s best. Howard paced Penn State with a fourth-place finish in the P bar.

Despite the impressive all-around performance, Howard did not earn a top-eight individual finish. That was secured by U.C. Berkeley, which came in first in the overall team event and placed three gymnasts in the top three individual rankings.

Two weeks ago, the Lions won the Big Ten Championship. They entered the tournament ranked second in the country, and will continue their quest for a National Championship tomorrow.

Image: Mark Selders/GoPSUSports

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Ben Berkman

State College, PA

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