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Gene Wettstone

  • Coached from 1938-1976 (38 years.  2008 was JoePa’s 42nd year.)
  • His teams won 9 national championships, 13 eastern crowns, 35 individual titles, and 13 Olympic competitors.
  • Hosted meets with Russian, Swedish, and other world teams.
  • Coached US Olympic teams in 1948, 1956, and judged for the 1952 competition.

Pommel Horse

  • Originally called a sidehorse.
  • Named for its apparatus – a padded horse with 2 wooden handles on the top called pommels.
  • Gymnasts complete an exercise of a certain set of required move as well as optional elements.
  • Judging:

        o   Did the gymnast support his weight on the pommels while doing a variety of required movements?

        o   Did the gymnast shift smoothly from one pommel to the other in moving around the horse?

        o   Did the gymnast keep his legs moving quickly without stopping over and around the horse?

        o   Did the gymnast make a smooth dismount without taking an extra balancing step on the landing?

  • 1st national titles on the event

        o   Steve Greene in 1948 and Bob Lawrence in 1954

  • Mark John

        o   Won 4 national titles from 1988-1991 on the pommel.

        o   2ndperson to win an NCAA event in 4 consecutive years

        o   Earned a perfect 10 in 1991

        o   Won 3 All American Awards


  • Used to be call flying rings
  • 2 rings are suspended by cables about 100” off the ground
  • The event requires an incredible amount of upper body strength.
  • Penn State has won 8 national championships in this specific event:

        o   Manuel Procopio was the 1st to win a national championship in this event in 1954

        o   Armando Vega 1959

        o   Jay Werner 1959-1960

        o   Paul Vexler 1969

        o   Wayne Cowden 1990

        o   Adam Carton 1991

        o   Chris Lakeman 2001

        o   Kevin Tan 2003-2004

  •  Gymnasts are judged on how well they perform certain compulsory or required movements:

        o   Did the gymnast keep the rings motionless while performing the movements?

        o   Did the gymnast perform handstands and complete circular swings?

        o   Did the gymnast hold strength positions such as the iron cross, motionless for 3 seconds?

        o   Did the gymnast dismount with multiple somersaults or twists?  Did the gymnast take an extra balancing step on the landing?

Women’s squads

  • Changed from club status behind Della Durant and Lucille Magnusson in 1964.
  • Penn State hired a Finnish gymnast Tuovi Sappinen to assist in coaching.
  • Coach Wettstone hosted “double dual competitions” for men’s and women’s teams to boost the exposure of the Lady Lions
  • Judy Avener began coaching in 1974

        o   278-87-1 in 8 seasons

        o   Ann Carr and Karen Schuckman won all around championships

        o   Ann Carr won 3 Broderick awards; 76-77, 77-78, 79-80

        o   Broderick Sports Awards:

The Broderick Awards are voted on by a national panel of women's collegiate athletic directors. It was first presented by the late Thomas Broderick, owner of a sports apparel company, in 1977. The Honda Corporation has presented the award since 1987. 1977 was a common year starting on Saturday (the link is to a full 1977 calendar). ... This Honda is the car company. ...  Winners are chosen in each of the 12 NCAA-sanctioned sports; three additional athletes are recognized as the Inspiration Award winners and Division II and III Athletes of the Year. All of these women are selected not only for their superior athletic skills, but also for their leadership abilities, academic excellence and eagerness to participate in community service. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA, often said NC-Double-A) is a voluntary association of about 1200 institutions, conferences, organizations and individuals that organizes the athletics programs of many colleges and universities in the United States. ...  Votes will be tabulated from over 900 NCAA-member schools, and the one athlete who is chosen as the outstanding Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year will take home the coveted Honda-Broderick Cup.

  • Pam Loree & Diane Drum earned 5 individual titles. 

        o   Loree won All around title

  • Penn State women’s gymnastics team won the Atlantic 10 team title in 1983

Men’s Vault

  • Coaches say good vaulters are born, not made.  Vaulting requires daring, speed, and strength.  Courage to explode in the air and poise to execute and stick the landing.
  • From 1980-2005, 13 vaulters have become All Americans
  • 2 time honored All Americans are Tom Forester and Adam Carton
  • Adam Carton won PSU’s 1st national championship in vault in 1991

         o   By winning the vault and rings, Carlton became the first PSU gymnast in 26yrs to win 2 national individual titles in a single


         o   Carton tied for a 2nd title the next year.

  • In men’s vault, gymnasts jump from a springboard across the length of the horse.
  • Gymnasts may perform a handspring, tsukahara, or roundoff entry vaults (max score 10.0)

Tsukahara: A men’s or women’s vault named after Japanese gymnast, Mitsuo Tzukahara.  It consists of a ¼ or ½ on to a back salto off the vault table. 
Salto: flip or somersault, with the feet coming up over the head and the body rotating around the axis of the waist.

  • Judging:

         o   Did the gymnast run, jump off the springboard, and hit the vault cleanly?        

         o   Did the gymnast soar high into the air with his body extended and toes pointed?  How High?

         o   Did the gymnast perform twists or somersaults in mid air?  How many?

         o   Did the gymnast stick the landing by not taking an extra balancing step?

All Around Champs

  • In gymnastics, it is possible to win a national all-around championship without winning a single event by having the highest point total throughout all the events. The following lions have done so:

         o   Ray Sorenson 1948 (1st)

         o   Karl Schier 1955

         o   Greg Weiss 1961

         o   Steve Cohen 1966-1967

         o   Marshall Avener 1973

  • From 1931-2005, 10 lions have won all-around championships.

         o   Most of these winners have gone on to the Olympic competition.

  • Steve Cohen (66-67) tied a record set by Jean Cronstedt (53-54) and Armando Vega (57 & 59).

         o   Luis Vargas matched Cronstedt with back to back titles in 2004 and 2005

         o   Cohen won the Nissan Award in 1967 as the nation’s outstanding senior male gymnast.  (pictured is Michael “Spider” Maxwell’s

              award from 1987)

  • Luis Vargas won 11 All American honors
  • Steve Cohen

         o   Won the Nissan award in 1967

         o   Was captain of the 1968 Olympic team in Mexico City

  • He finished 9th in the individual rings, and 7th in team combined exercises.

Women’s Vault

  • Vaulters need speed, explosive power, and certain recklessness
  • Women jump from a springboard to vault across the middle of the horse.
  • Training includes running, tumbling, and trampoline drills
  • Karen Schuckman-alternate on the 1972 Olympic team

         o   Won national All-Around in 1974

         o   In 1975 she won the national title in vaulting

  • 1986 Pam Loree won the national vault title
  • April Polito and Allison Barber – All American national champs (?) in the 1990’s
  • Joanna Knox won the school record for vault score @ 9.95 in 1995

         o   Kate Rowland broke the record scoring a 10.0 twice in 2003

              -She was also named Big Ten Gymnast of the Year twice

  • Judging:

         o   Did the gymnast hit the vaulting horse with arms fully extended?

         o   Did the gymnast soar high into the air?  How high?

         o   Did the gymnast perform twisting or tumbling movements in the air?  Did she make any unnecessary movements?

         o   Did the gymnast stick the landing with no extra balancing steps?

Horizontal Bar

  • The bar is elevated 8ft 6in. off the ground
  • The gymnasts competing in this event must perform a variety of swings, often regrasping the bar
  • Modern gymnasts wear leather grips which include a special dowel (?) to help them hold on.
  • Gymnasts often experience forces up to 8 times the force of gravity
  • In 1954 Jean Cronstedt won PSU’s 1stnational horizontal bar title.

         o   In 1954 PSU dominated nationals and set NCAA records by winning 3 events and capturing 2nd straight all-around crowns

  • In 1965 Mike Jacobson won the national horizontal bar title as well as all around and team championship.
  • 9 Lions who competed in the horizontal bar have won All-American awards since 1980

         o   Kevin Tan and Louis Vargas won All-American awards 2003

Parallel Bars

  • Used to be called P-Bars
  • This event borrows attributes from each apparatus; strength of rings, finesse of pommel horse, & daring of high bar.
  • The gymnasts are required to move smoothly above and around the bars and hold several strength positions.
  • Jean Cronstedt won 2 national titles in 1953-54

         o   He went on to win 6 titles total and participated in the 1960 Olympics

  • Gene Whelan won the national title in 1976, the same year he won the Nissan Award
  • Between 1995-2005, PSU gymnasts competing in the parallel bars won 5 All American awards
  • Armando Vega won 3 straight national championship crowns from 1956-1959 (?)

         o   During his collegiate career he won 6 total individual championships plus 2 team titles.

         o   He competed in the 1956 and 1964 Olympics (missed the 1960 Olympics due to injury).

  • Judging:

         o   Did the gymnast support himself with his hands while doing hand stands, swings, twists, and other required movements?

         o   Did the gymnast hold several positions for 1 or 2 seconds to demonstrate strength?

         o   Did the gymnast move from one hand to the other, release evenly, and regrasp the bars during the routine?

         o   Did the gymnast dismount with a twist or somersault?

Uneven bars

  • Newest event in women’s gymnastics; it evolved from men’s high bar
  •  Routines involve swinging and suspension skills using both bars with many changes and release moves
  •  Ann Carr was the 1st woman ever to receive a full athletic scholarship

         o   She won a national all-around championship in 1977 and 1978, as well as 3 national championships in event specific areas

         o   She won 3 Broderick awards as the nations outstanding female gymnast

  •  11 gymnasts won regional championships and 6 gymnasts won All-American honors by 2000
  •  PSU broke a school record of 49.325/50.000 in a 1999 meet against Florida
  •  In 2005 Nikki Smith, Ellen Casey, Katie McAvey, Katie Rowland, and Marie Taylor, all tied for top posting mark, 9.95
  •  Judging:

         o   Did the gymnast connect the movements to present a continuous performance flow?

         o   Did the gymnast keep her legs together, arms straight, and toes pointed during swings?

         o   Did the gymnast dismount with a twisting somersault movement?  More than 1 revolution?

         o   Did the gymnast stick the landing without the need for an extra balancing step?

Balancing Beam

  •  The balance beam is 16ft long and 4in. wide
  •  This is the simplest event, making it very popular
  •  Gymnasts are expected to do splits, pirouettes, jumps, somersaults, and turns all on a thin wood beam within 70-90 seconds.
  •  Karen Schuckman was the 1st PSU All American on beam in 1974 and 1976
  •  Ann Carr, Joanne Beck, Lisa Ingebretsen, & Tracy Kerner all had All-American honors on the beam
  •  Missy Leopoldus scored a 10.0 twice in the same season in 1999.

         o   Following suit scoring 10.0’s were Nikki Smith in 2000 (@ the Big Ten Championships) and Katie Rowland in 2003

  •  Lisa Ingebretsen was a 6 time All-American, and was part of 2 national championship teams in 1978 and 1980

         o   She won All American twice on the balance beam in 1978 and 1979

         o   She shared the regional title in 1980

Women’s Floor

  •  The floor exercise is a combination of dance, tumbling, and acrobatics performed to music.
  •  Gymnasts perform compulsatory and optional movements on a mat measuring about 40sq ft.
  •  Gymnasts choreography required movements into a fluid routine
  •  In the 20th century, 4 women from Penn State have gained national titles on floor

         o   Karen Schuckman ’75, Ann Carr ’78, Marcy Levine ’79, & Heidi Anderson ‘81

  •  Marcy Levine won the national floor title in 1979 as a freshman

         o   She also won 2 All American honors

  •  In 1999 Ellen Casey scored a perfect 10.0, which is still an unbroken record as of 2005
  •  Judging:

         o   Did the gymnast demonstrate balance, flexibility, and strength in sitting, standing and lying positions?

         o   Did the gymnast stick her landings at the end of tumbling runs without having to take an extra balancing step?

         o   Did the gymnast remain within the marked out area and finish within the 70 to 90 second time limit?

         o   Did the gymnast successfully blend movement changes in harmony with the music?

Men’s Floor

  • Judging:

         o   Did the gymnast demonstrate balance, flexibility, strength, and artistic flair?

         o   Did the gymnast perform handstands, front somersaults, and tumbling movements?

         o   Did the gymnast stick the landings at the end of tumbling runs without having to take an extra balancing step?

         o   Did the gymnast remain within the marked out area and finish within the 50-70 second time limit?

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