Feb. 19, 2003

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The No. 2 Buckeyes will travel to State College to challenge the No. 1 Nittany Lions at 7 p.m. Feb. 22 in the Bryce Jordan Center. Ohio State’s 220.5 posted against Nebraska Feb. was the highest score in the nation since last quadrennium (reorganization of scoring and routines by the International Gymnastic Governing Council) in 2001.

Penn State clamed the top of the rankings by combining a 217.25 posted in the season-opening Navy Open Jan. 18 and a 219.4 scored against Michigan Jan. 25 for a two score average of 218.325 points. Senior Kevin Donahue’s all-around two-score average of 53.325 places him second in the nation and freshman Luis Vargas is sixth with a 53.850 average.

As a team, Penn State is nationally ranked at No. 1 on parallel bars and high bar, No. 2 in the nation on pommel horse, No. 3 on rings and No. 4 on vault. Other individuals nationally ranked for the Nittany Lions include Kevin Tan with a two score average of 9.70 and a second place standings on rings and Jose Palacios with a 9.325 average ranking third on parallel bars. Donahue also is the No. 1 competitor on high bar with a 9.65 average.

Head coach Randy Jepson is in his 12th season at the Nittany Lion helm. He has guided Penn State to its fourth-consecutive NCAA Championship appearance and eighth overall. Penn State’s banner season in 2000 concluded in an NCAA Championship crown and Jepson being named the National Coach of the Year. Jepson has been a member of the coaching staff since 1983.

The Buckeyes have won 16 out of 27 meetings against the Nittany Lions. Last year, No. 4 Ohio State upset No. 3 Penn State by a tenth of a point, 216.325-216.225, Feb. 23 in St John Arena. The Buckeyes were led by Raj Bhavsar, who won the all-around competition with a score of 54.350. He also finished first in vault (9.30), high bar (9.40) and pommel horse (9.10). Ryan Schwartzkopf set a season high 9.60 on pommel horse to take first in the event. OSU trailed the entire meet until the final rotation. Behind by 2.250 points, Ohio State posted a 36.85 on high bar and Penn State compiled a 34.50 on parallel bars.

Feb. 26, 2000 was the last time Ohio State traveled to State College, Pa. and No. 3 PSU pulled off an upset over No. 2 OSU 229.025-228.50. It was the Buckeyes first loss of the season as they dropped to 13-1.

Ohio State will travel to Normand, Okla., to face the defending 2002 National Champions. The Sooners began the season at No.1, but have since been moved to No. 3 with a two score average of 217.865. Senior Danial Ferney is currently the all-around national leader with a two score average of 54.650.

After opening the season at No. 2 behind defending national champion Oklahoma, the Buckeyes dropped to third in the Gymnastics Info Poll with 213.0 points (high score). Penn State moved into first place after recording a 217.25 score and Oklahoma slipped to second after it compiled 214.275 points.

Ohio State’s 220.5 against Nebraska on Feb. 14 and 215.85 against Illinois on Feb. 1 combine for a 218.175, which places the Buckeyes in second place in front of Oklahoma (217.865) for the first time this season. Penn State’s two-score average of 218.325 remains in first place. No. 4 California (214.637) moved in front of Michigan (213.7), Iowa (213.212) and Illinois (212.825).

For individual events, Ohio State ranks No. 1 on floor, No. 2 on high bar, No. 4 on rings and No. 3 on the other events. Individually, Randy Monahan is fourth in the nation on all-around with a 53.925 two-score average. Ryan Schwartzkopf ranks No. 2 on pommel horse with a 9.6 average and Dick Huntwork’s 9.2 average on floor ranks fourth.

Ohio State sophomore Kerry Adderly was named Big Ten Men’s Gymnast of the week and Inside Gymnastics Midwest Men’s Gymnast of the Week as he set career highs on all five of his events (he did not enter the all around) and placed first in four while leading the Buckeyes to a national-high score of 220.5 in a dual victory over No. 7 Nebraska (212.35). Adderly took first place on floor with a 9.45, vault with a 9.5, parallel bars with a 9.05 and high bar with a 9.45 (he crushed his previous career-record high bar score of 8.8 by .65 points). His 9.15 on rings was a career high and a fourth-place finish.

Senior Ryan Schwartzkopf, a pommel horse specialist, continues to improve as the season progresses. He has placed first in dual matches against Illinois (9.65) and Nebraska (9.55). He also advanced to the second round of the Winter Cup challenge by scoring a 9.65 and placing sixth. In the second round he scored a 8.6 and placed sixth.

Raj Bhavsar, the 2002 NCAA and Big Ten All-Around Champion, competed in his first dual match this season against Nebraska competing on floor (8.65), pommel horse (9.45) and vault (9.2). He was unavaiable earlier this season because of a tear in his shoulder he suffered last year. He completed in the last leg of the 2002 season with what was thought to be a strained shoulder. Although he risked further injury, he still competed in the 2002 national championships. At the conclusion of the season, a MRI reveled orthopedic surgery was necessary.

Bhavsar competed in the Feb. 7-8 Winter Cup where he earned a continuance on the U.S. National Team until June 2003.

Dick Huntwork has increased his all-around involvement this season by becoming a top performer for the Buckeyes. Since his opening 49.8 at the Windy City Invitational, he has shown improvement weekly. His career-high 52.15 was recorded at Illinois and his currently is ranked No. 7 in the nation with a 51.95 two-score all-around average.

Ronald Ferris, a freshman from Austintown, Ohio, is making an impact with the Buckeyes this season. He holds a team season-high 9.15 on parallel bars, which he recorded in a first-place effort against Illinois. Ferris also has competed on pommel horse, high bar and vault.

Randy Monahan won multiple honors after his first place all-around finish at the Windy City including Big Ten Men’s Gymnast of the Week and NCAA Men’s Gymnast of the Week named by Inside Gymnastics collegiate editor Jerry Wright.

Monahan placed in the Top 10 on all six events and placed third in three events by scoring a 9.0 on rings, a 9.35 on vault and a 9.0 on high bar. In the competition, he compiled 53.850 points to claim the all-around title by one point. He also placed fourth on floor exercise (9.100).

The Buckeyes will play host to the Big Ten Championships March 28-29 at St. John Arena. Ohio State will defend its back-to-back 2001 and 2002 championships, which were held in State College, Pa., and Minneapolis, Minn., respectively. A third-consecutive victory will mark the first Big Ten three-peat in school history.

The Buckeyes will look to extend their record to 23-consecutive trips to the NCAA championship, which will be held in Philadelphia at Avery’s alma mater, Temple. It will be his goal to make the team feel at home, especially considering the home team has won the national title the last two years (Ohio State and Oklahoma, respectively). Winning this tournament is the ultimate goal for the team this year and would make the second national championship in three years.