Penn State meets all of its goals in opening-season victory against Army
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- No. 4 Penn State won five of the six individual events and tallied the highest team total on all six apparatus to beat 13th-ranked Army 447.750-403.700 in the season opener on Saturday at Rec Hall.
"This was probably the best first meet I've ever had as a head coach," Penn State head coach Randy Jepson said. "We only missed on five routines [Saturday]. We had three goals entering [Saturday]: stay healthy, have no more than six misses and have no more than two on any one event. We accomplished all three of those goals. Our guys hit [their routines] very solid and they are a little ahead of where I thought they would be in a meet like this.
"I think we needed this kind of meet. We have been training really hard and I know that these guys are going to rise to the challenge when it comes, but you need that carrot in front of you every day and it is hard to be at your best every day [when you're just practicing]. I think this is a meet we were well-prepared for and this gives us a great start to the season."
Matt Chelberg got the Nittany Lions going on the floor exercise when he stepped on the mat and turned in a stellar 15.000 performance to claim the individual crown. Chelberg was the lone athlete to claim a score in the 15 range, but four other Penn State competitors scored better than 14.000, giving the squad an early four-point lead.
The pommel horse featured three student-athletes posting scores better than 15.000 and no Nittany Lion scored worse than 14.7000 to extend their overall lead. The event winner came from Army, as Garrek Hojan-Clark came through with a score of 15.400, but PSU took the next five best scores. Felix Aronovich rocked his way to a career-high score of 15.350, while Adrian Evans boasted a 15.3000 and Preston Gall ended the event with a tally of 15.000. School record-holder Craig Hernandez and senior Mackenzie Dow each closed with a score of 14.800 and Tony Beckrounded out the event with a 14.700.
"We were outstanding on pommel horse," Jepson said. "When you look back to when our seniors were freshman, we had potential, but we weren't very solid. It took three years to get us to this point and we can really rock this year. Our guys did a great job."
It was quite the night for freshman Trevor Howard, as the highly touted rookie claimed a pair of event titles. Howard started on the rings and posted the event-winning mark of 15.700. He then anchored the lineup on the vault where he edged teammate's Alexis Torres and Matthew Felleman for the crown. The winning tally of 15.200 finished just ahead of fellow newcomer Torres' 15.150 and sophomore Felleman's 15.100.
Felleman didn't rest on his runner-up showing on the vault by claiming the final event with a score of 15.500 on the high bar. On the parallel bars, it was Nestor Rodriguez who came out with the top performance of the night. Rodriguez finished his routine with a final showing 15.350, just ahead of Aronovich's tally of 15.300.