Rules of the Game
Collegiate men’s gymnastics consists of six individual events, the results of which then are used to determine a winner in each event, an individual all-around (AA) winner, and a team winner. Each team has twelve members, six of whom may compete in any individual event. The individual events are:
- Floor Exercise (FX) – this is an acrobatic event performed on a 40 foot square mat. The routine must be completed in under 70 seconds, and must include certain elements, such as balancing on one arm or leg for two seconds.
- Pommel Horse (PH) – this is an exercise performed on a stationary padded apparatus with two handles (pommels). The gymnast performs a continuous series of circular movements, interrupted by required leg scissors elements, touching the apparatus only with one or both hands. The entire routine should be continuous, with no breaks in the activity.
- Still Rings (SR) – this event is performed by grasping two rings suspended from a tower 21.5 feet above the floor. The gymnast must keep his body straight with no arching, except when performing a cross in the “L” position; hands and arms should not shake during the performance. At least one element of strength, such as a cross, must be held for two seconds.
- Vault (V) – this event is quick and explosive. The gymnast launches himself off of a springboard towards a stationary apparatus, uses his hands to push off over the apparatus while performing an acrobatic move, and lands on his feet without wobbling or moving his feet upon impact with the floor.
- Parallel Bars (PB) – this event contains mostly elements of swing and flight. The gymnast supports himself by arms or legs on two parallel bars that are mounted on posts and flex along with the gymnast’s movements. The most difficult components of a routine require the gymnast to lose contact and sight of the bars as he performs acrobatic elements.
- High Bar (HB) – this event is performed while grasping a bar that is approximately nine feet above the floor. The gymnast executes a series of continuous swings and turns, and must release and then re-grasp the bar at least once. The gymnast dismounts by soaring well above the bar and then landing without wobbling or moving his feet upon impact with the floor.
The maximum score for each event is ten points; these are awarded by judges who determine the difficulty and artistry of the performance, and then subtract points for flaws, omissions, and violations. The high and low scores are discarded.
Penn State Men’s Gymnastics History
Penn State holds a storied position in men’s gymnastics. It has fielded more national championship teams (12), individual event national champions (50), and all-around national champions (15) than any other school. Three times Penn State has produced the individual all-around national champion for three consecutive years; Jean Cronstedt is one of only two gymnasts to win four national titles in a single year. Six Nittany Lions, including Casey Sandy in 2009, have won the Nissen-Emery Award as the nation’s top male gymnast (Dr. Robert Emery, the 1969 winner from PSU, lends his name to the award), more than any other school. Casey Sandy was Penn State’s first Big 10 Gymnast of the Year (2008).
The men’s gymnastics team first competed in 1931, but the program took off in 1939, when the legendary Gene Wettstone took over the coaching duties. In 1942, the Nittany Lions placed second in the NCAA championships, and in 1948 won their first national title. In all, Wettstone’s teams won nine national championships through 1976 (Wettstone’s final season), finished second five times, and had twelve undefeated seasons and 14 one-loss seasons. They won back-to-back national titles in 1953-54 and three-in-a-row from 1959-61. Karl Schier succeeded Wettstone for the 1977 season, and Penn State finished in the top 10 nationally in each of his 14 seasons, including second place finishes in 1984 and 1991. Current coach Randy Jepson took over in 1992, and his teams won national championships in 2000, 2004, and 2007; they also have twelve top five finishes nationally in his tenure.
The 2019 team won the Big Ten Championship, and Coach Jepson was named Coach of the Year. Sam Zakutney was the individual PB champion. At the NCAA Championships, Penn State finished 6th, and Stephen Nedoroscik came in 2nd in the PH, earning All-American status for the 3rd consecutive year. Noah Roberson was named the Elite 90 Award winner for the 3rd consecutive year (this award recognizes the athlete with the highest GPA competing at the national championships in each of the 90 NCAA-recognized sports); he is only the 6th athlete to win this award 3 times.
In 2020, Stephen Nedoroscik was recognized as the College Gymnastics Association Specialist of the Year for his performance on the pommel horse, and then was honored as the 2020 Nissen-Emery Award, given to the top men’s college gymnast.
In 2021, Penn State finished in 5th place at the Big Ten Championships. Michael Jaroh was named to the All-BigTen 1st team, and Nick Mock to the 2nd team. The Lions were one of twelve teams that qualified for the National Championship Tournament, and eight gymnasts qualified for these Championships as well. The Nittany Lions did not finish in the top six, but Parker Clayton earned All-American honors on the still rings with an 8th place finish; Clayton is the 50th Penn Sate gymnast to earn All-American honors in this event, and the Program’s 3rd consecutive All-American in this event as well. Jack Baldwin was the winner of the NCAA Elite 90 Award in men’s gymnastics. This is the fifth time (and 4th in a row) that a Penn Stater has won this award.
Penn State’s men’s gymnastics team trains in the White Building, and competes in Rec Hall.
1948, 1953, 1954, 1957,1959, 1960, 1961,1965, 1976, 2000, 2004, 2007
Big 10 Championships
2003, 2008. 2015, 2019
Gene Wettstone (1939-76) 197-41
11 national championships
12 all-around national champions
23 individual national champions
1948, 1956 U.S.Olympic coach
1952, 1968 Olympic judge
1976 U.S.Olympic manager
Randy Jepson (1992-present) 195-46 through 2013
2000, 2004, 2007 national championship
3 all-around national champions
7 individual national champions
Big 10 Coach of the Year
2003, 2008, 2019
1953, 1954 All-Around National Champion
1953 National Champion – PB
1954 National Champion – FX, PB, HB
1960 – Swedish Olympic team
1957, 1959 All-Around National Champion
1956 National Champion – PB
1957 National Chamption-PB
1959 National Champion – SR, PB
1956, 1964 U.S. Olympic team
1968 Olympic judge
2008 Big 10 and NCAA All-Around Champion
2008 Big 10 Parallel Bars Champion, Gymnast of the Year
2008 Penn State Male Athlete of the Year
2008 Canadian Amateur Athlete of the Year
2009 Canadian National Team
2009 Nissen-Emery Male Gymnast of the Year
1966, 1967 All-Around National Champion
1968 U.S. Olympic team
2004, 2005 All-Around National Champion 2003 All-American (PH, HB) 2004 All-American (AA, PH, PB, HB) 2005 All-American (AA, FX, PH, PB, HB) 2004 Puerto Rican Olympic Team 2004 Jesse Owens B10 Male Athlete of Year
2008 Big 10 and NCAA All-Around Champion 2008 Big 10 Parallel Bars Champion, Gymnast of the Year 2008 Canadian Amateur Athlete of the Year 2009 Canadian National Team 2009 Nissen-Emery Male Gymnast of the Year
2017, 2018, 2019 All-American 2017, 2019 NCAA Champion (pommel horse) 2018 Big Ten Champion (pommel horse) 2018 1st Team All-Big Ten 2020 Nissen-Emery Award Male Gymnast of the Year 2020 Specialist of the Year (pommel horse)
Nissen-Emery Male Gymnast of the Year – Steve Cohen (1967); Bob Emery (1969); Gene Whelan (1976); Spider Maxwell (1987), Matt Cohen (2007), Casey Sandy (2009)
Individual All-Around National Champions - Ray Sorenson (1948); Jean Cronstedt (1953-54) Karl Schwenzfeier (1955); Armando Vega (1957, 1959); Jay Werner (1960); Greg Weiss (1961); Mike Jacobson (1965); Steve Cohen (1966-67); Marshall Avener (1973); Luis Vargas (2003-04); Casey Sandy (2008)
Individual Event National Champion - 54, including 4-time champion Mark Sohn (PH, 1988-91) and 3-time champion Armando Vega (HB, 1956-57, 1959).
Big 10 Champions - Mike Masucci (HB, 1993); Tom Ellefson (PB, V, 1995); Mike Dutka (AA, PH, V, FX, 1998); Chris Lakeman (SR, 2001), Kevin Donahue (PB, HB, 2002); Kevin Tan (SR, 2002; SR, 2003; SR, PB, 2004), Tommy Ramos (SR, 2006); Casey Sandy (AA, PB, 2008); Tommy Ramos (SR, 2008); Craig Hernandez (PH, 2012); Scott Rosenthal (SR, 2012, 2013); Trevor Howard (SR, 2014, 2015)Matthew Felleman (AA, 2015) Stephen Nedoroscik (PH, 2018); Brennan Pantazis (FE, 2018).
All-Americans - 140 selections since 1980.
All Big 10 – 39 selections
Big 10 Gymnast of the Year - Casey Sandy (2008).
Big 10 Freshman of the Year - Mike Dutka (1997); Felix Aronovich (2010 co-winner); Trevor Howard (2013); Sam Zakutney (2017)
NCAA Elite 90 Award (given to the national championship participant with highest GPA in each NCAA sport) – Miguel Pineda (2011); Noah Roberson (2017-2019), Jack Baldwin (2021).