Three Big Ten Gymnasts Crowned NCAA National Champions
April 4, 2004
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Just one day after Penn State claimed the 2004 NCAA Men's Gymnastics Team Championship, three Big Ten student-athletes returned today to claim individual NCAA titles, while numerous All-America honors were earned.
Penn State senior Kevin Tan stood atop the podium again, this time as the 2004 NCAA rings champion with a winning score of 9.812. The title was Tan's second consecutive crown, becoming Penn State's first back-to-back national champion on the rings.
The 2004 NCAA all-around champion, sophomore Luis Vargas, finished tied for second in the pommel horse (9.687), fourth on the bars (9.025), and tied for sixth on the high bar (9.475).
The honors continued to roll in for the newly-crowned national champion Lions, with Penn State's head coach Randy Jepson earning his second national coach of the year nod after leading the Lions to their second NCAA title in five years and an NCAA record 11th overall. The Nittany Lions won the team title Saturday night with a season-high 223.350.
Tan's title on rings and Vargas' titles in the all-around builds on Penn State's NCAA-record total, giving the Lions 48 individual titles in program history. Penn State also holds the record for team titles with 11, including the 2004 title the Lions captured Sunday.
Illinois senior Bob Rogers won the pommel horse with a career-high score of 9.775, becoming the first national champion for the Illini since 1998.
Justin Spring's high bar set was the final routine in the entire championship and he finished on a high note, bringing home Illinois' second national championship trophy in the competition as he earned a 9.775.
It was a historical day for the Illini as Sunday marked the first time since 1958 that Illinois won at least one national championship by two different people - Abie Grossfeld won three titles (high bar, floor exercise and all-around) and Frank Hailand took home another (tumbling) in '58 for Illinois. The last time Illinois had five different individuals earn All-America honors in one year was way back in 1957.
All five Illini who competed on the final day of competition - Rogers, Spring, Adam Pummer, Ben Newman and Peter Shostchuk - earned All-America status on seven events.
Pummer became an All-American on two events - floor exercise and vault, while Newman and Shostchuk earned All-America status on pommel horse.
Iowa junior Linas Gaveika and sophomore Michael Reavis were named All-Americans for their performances in parallel bars and vault, respectively. Gaveika is now a three-time all-American and Reavis is a two-time all-American.
Gaveika was in first place on parallel bars (9.187) with only one gymnast left to compete. Ramon Jackson, of William & Mary, scored a 9.2 to take the title, pushing Gaveika into second place. Gaveika also took fourth on horizontal bar with a score of 9.687, earning All-America honors in two events. He became Iowa's seventh all-American on parallel bars and Iowa's 15th All-American on high bar.
Reavis was also named an All-American with his fourth place finish on vault (9.437). He is now Iowa's ninth All-American on vault.
Three Michigan gymnasts earned All-America accolades Sunday as well. Sophomore Luke Bottke earned his first All-America honor on the floor exercise by placing fifth with a score of 9.337.
Freshman Aaron Rakes also earned his first All-America citation on the pommel horse with a score of 8.925 and a seventh-place finish.
Sophomore Justin Laury, who earned All-America honors in the all-around with his fifth-place finish Saturday while helping the Wolverines place fifth as a team, finished ninth in the high bar with a score of 9.075.
Minnesota junior Guillermo Alvarez picked up two more All-America honors to earn three for the weekend. Alvarez, who earned All-America honors in Saturday's all-around finals by placing in the top six, placed fourth overall on the floor exercise and had the highest score among Big Ten competitors with a 9.450. He would follow that performance by placing sixth on the pommel horse with a mark of 9.425.
2004 NCAA Individual Event Finals
* Penn State's Luis Vargas (Rio Pedros, Puerto Rico) and Iowa's Linas Gaveika (Vilnius, Lithuania) are not eligible to earn All-America honors.