Blue White Illustrated

June-July 2022

Penn State Sports Magazine

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Page 47 of 67

4 8 J U N E / J U L Y 2 0 2 2 W W W . B L U E W H I T E O N L I N E . C O M C hase Clingman did it the hard way. The Penn State junior claimed the pommel horse crown at the NCAA Men's Gymnastics Championships in early April at Norman, Okla., bringing the title back to PSU for the third time in the past five competitions. His championship was not strictly a coronation, however. It was also an endurance test. Clingman was the last gymnast to qualify for the pommel horse finals. He finished the first session with a score of 13.066 and was tied with freshman teammate Josh Karnes for the final spot. Clingman's superior difficulty score ended up serving as the tiebreaker, and as razor thin as that victory was, there were more tense moments still ahead. In the second session the following day, Clingman earned a score of 14.0 while competing in the second rota- tion. He then had to wait to see whether his score would hold up — no sure thing given the caliber of the competition at nationals. In the end, Clingman's score did hold up. None of the other competitors sur- passed it, and only one competitor — Stanford's Brody Malone — equaled it. The next-closest competitor was Okla- homa's Zach Nunez, who turned in a 13.833. Clingman and Malone ended up sharing the national title. Clingman's victory put him in the rari- fied company of Penn State predecessor Stephen Nedoroscik, who won the pom- mel horse crown in 2017 and '18. In their history, the Nittany Lions have now had 12 gymnasts win NCAA gold in the event. "It's unreal. I can't believe this, it's crazy," Clingman told GoPSUSports. com on the heels of his victory. "It was all about a mindset. I'm grateful for a lot of things that got me here. It was a lot of hard work." Indeed, the Leesburg, Va., native had to work his way back from a sophomore season that was almost entirely lost to an injury. Clingman had barely gotten a chance to compete as a freshman before the sea- son was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but even that experience was more extensive than his sophomore cam- paign. He competed in only one dual meet in 2021, placing second on the pommel horse and seventh on the high bar in Penn State's season opener against Army. Clingman missed the rest of the campaign and headed into the offseason looking to regroup. Which is exactly what he did. He made steady progress throughout the 2022 season, with his scores improving from OLYMPIC SPORTS Dark Horse Candidate Chase Clingman pulls off a stunning triumph at the NCAA Championships M AT T H E R B | M A T T @ B L U E W H I T E O N L I N E . C O M Clingman's pommel horse victory at the NCAA Championships was Penn State's third in the past five competitions. Stephen Nedoroscik won the national title in 2017 and '18. PHOTO COURTESY PENN STATE ATHLETICS

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