Penn State excited to host NCAA gymnastics championship

By Zach Fleagle

Daily Collegian, Penn State U. via UWIRE

The Penn State men’s gymnastics team, owners of 12 National Championships, most in the NCAA, has something else to set its sights on.

The NCAA Gymnastics Committee selected Penn State University to host the 2013 National Collegiate Championships at Rec Hall on Monday. The last time the university hosted the title in 2007, the Nittany Lions won their most recent title.

With eleven sophomores coming into the 2010 season, coach Randy Jepson is excited about what the future can bring, but he knows the team is a long way away from 2013. Jepson said without the right preparation and consistency the pressure of having the home gym could affect some of his athletes negatively. For now, that is what the team is focusing on ­- consistency.

“The biggest thing right now is we have to put ourselves in a position where our difficulty level is raised,” said Jepson. “We need to raise our star value.”

Matt Chelberg is one of the sophomores who will be a senior in 2013 and said that the energy the news brought to the gym is incredible. Chelberg said his excitement, along with his teammates comes from the fact their families will be there making the atmosphere that much better for them.

“I think it’s going to be great having such a large senior class,” Chelberg said. “We’ll have a lot of fans, and last time we were in this position we ended up winning, so I think it bodes well for us.”

With the right goals set and the correct amount of preparation, Jepson knows that a home gym advantage will certainly help his team. He said a strong comfort level should and will make the athletes compete at their best and at the highest levels.

“The biggest benefit is you’re in your own bed.” Jepson said. “You have several seasons behind you competing in the same venue.”

Gymnastics is composed of individual routines but a program’s success is based on the accumulation of all single scores. Jepson said the rising sophomore class has a lot of work to do to prepare and Chelberg said currently, it’s in the weight room.

“Right now we’re really increasing our strength and endurance,” Chelberg said. “Coach is putting us through a really rigorous regiment and I can already feel it’s helping us.”

Sophomore Scott Rosenthal said he was at Rec Hall in 2007 when the Lions won the title. He said he remembered some of the things that the team did then and hopes to use that to his teams’ advantage.

“The whole time they were on fire and looked like they were having so much fun and enjoying the competition,” Rosenthal said. “How excited they were to be there and that Rec Hall was absolutely packed made it a great place to be.”

Jepson said though you only compete one season at a time, it lingers in the back of his mind and he knows the players are excited too. For his will-be-seniors, he knows if they want to bring home another title in 2013, they have to be on point with their routines and be ready to win.

“We can’t have any weak events,” Jepson said. “We need to catch up a little but I’m confident that we can do that. We just have to develop the competitive tenacity.”

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