UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Fresh off their first Big Ten victory of the season and fifth consecutive team title, the No. 7 Penn State men's gymnastics team will transition to a different kind of competition this week. Four Nittany Lions will travel to Las Vegas, Nev. to compete in the 2014 Winter Cup Challenge. The preliminary round kicks off Thursday, Feb. 20 before wrapping up with the finals Saturday, Feb. 22.
Trevor Howard (Columbus, Ohio) and Craig Hernandez (Libertyville, Ill.) will both represent Penn State in the two-day event, which will be held at the Riviera Hotel.
Last weekend, Howard took home three individual titles against Illinois, capturing first-place finishes on the rings, parallel bars and high bar. Looking ahead, he enters the week ranked among the top-10 nationally in a trio of events.
After registering a top score of 15.150 against the Fighting Illini, Howard climbed to fourth nationally on the parallel bars. The top finish marked his third title of the season on the parallel bars, which includes a season-high performance of 15.350 against Army in the season-opener.
Howard is also slated fifth nationally on the rings this week. Never having placed lower than third on the apparatus, he's posted back-to-back scores of 15.650 in his last two performances against Temple and Illinois. He set his original season-high mark of 15.750 at the Navy Open.
Howard moved to 10th nationally in the floor exercise this week. He's finished third in the last three consecutive outings, after notching a season-high score of 15.500 at the West Point Open finals.
Hernandez heads to the Winter Cup Challenge as Penn State's top performer on the pommel horse this season. The school-record holder recorded the Nittany Lions' season-high score of 15.150 on the pommel horse against Temple.
Prior to the standout performance against the Owls, he claimed the top spot once more this season at the Navy Open. After recording a third-place finish (14.700) on the apparatus against Illinois, he moved to 11th nationally on the pommel horse.
Following the Winter Cup Challenge, Howard and Hernandez will join the rest of the No. 7 Penn State men's gymnastics team for their final home meet of the season. The Nittany Lions will square off against Big Ten foe Minnesota Saturday, March 1 on senior night at 7 p.m. in Rec Hall.
Both season and single meet tickets are available for purchase. Season ticket packages costs $12 for adults and $8 for youth, while single meet tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for youth. Single meet tickets are available for purchase in advance at the Bryce Jordan Center and at the Rec Hall ticket window on the day of the meet.
Group tickets can be purchased in advance for a reduced rate of $4 per ticket. Fans can catch all the action from Rec Hall with live scoring updates, which will be available on www.GoPSUSports.com.