Coming into 2017, head coach Randy Jepson said that this Penn State team wasn't going to overpower anybody but they would be consistent. After the first weekend of competition, that seems to be a fair assessment. "I was most happy about the fact that we looked really clean," Jepson said. "We're not doing really hard routines but most of our guys competed really well."
PSU had three competitors do all six events and all three had solid days. Michael Burns led the group with an 82.7, followed by Favian Valdez (B1G Freshman of the Week) with an 82.4 and Dominic DiFulvio with an 82.3. "Michael Burns did a great job," Jepson said. "He competed the best he's ever competed for us and in the first meet that says a lot."
It's clear that the Nittany Lions possess some strong depth, something that could help separate themselves from the pack as the season moves forward.
Taking second place by just 1.75 were the Nebraska Cornhuskers. They were led by solid performances from freshman Jake Bonnay (FX -14.45, HB - 13.8), Heath Anderson (SR - 14.45), Daniel Leal (PB - 14.15) and Kyle King (VT - 14.85). Prior to the season, head coach Chuck Chmelka alluded to the fact that high bar may be a weakness for this team and they struggled with it this weekend, being forced to count two 12's. If they can shore up that event, early indications show that they will be contending for a B1G title.
The race for third place may have been just as exciting as the one for first. The rest of the field went as follows: Army in third with a 393.55, Arizona State in fourth with a 392.75, Navy in fifth with a 391.25, Springfield in sixth with a 390.55 and Temple in seventh with a 372.25. Props need to be given to the Sun Devils as they were able to compete at such a high level as a club team. Riley Ward ended up taking home Gymnast of the Week honors in the club division thanks to his performances on FX (13.95), VT (13.4) and SR (12.55).
It should be noted that the scoring seemed a bit more lax at this meet, similar to the Rocky Mountain Open. As the season moves on I hope to do a piece on the vast differences in judging between the different regions. It's a difficult problem to fix, but one that desperately needs to be addressed in order to find more consistency within the scoring of our sport.
Illini win third-straight Windy City title