Entering this season, the men’s gymnastics team was optimistic about its chances of bringing home the ECAC Championship. But in the most anticipated event of the season Saturday, the Owls were not able to defeat rival Army.
The Knights topped the Owls, 214.025 – 210.975, at the ECAC Championships in Springfield, Mass. The Owls placed second among eight teams.
A few of the Owls said they were disappointed by the loss, but were proud of what they accomplished as a team this year.
“It was hard losing,” senior Nyika White said. “We did lose to a great team, though. I think we had a great meet and we ended the year on a positive note.”
Despite the loss, the Owls were well-represented in a number of individual events. White, a two-time all-American on rings, won the event with a score of 9.800. Senior David Ramos captured the high bar title with a score of 8.950. Freshman Sterling Kramer placed second on both the parallel and high bars, and freshman Luke Vexler finished fifth in all-around with a score of 51.975.
Vexler also placed third in floor exercise and second on pommel horse, normally one of the team’s weaker events. Still, the Owls made a few mistakes that cost them the meet, he said.
“Army won and they deserve it,” Vexler said. “But to come in second place, that is an honor for us.”
ROAD TO THE NCAAS
The No. 14 Owls failed to qualify for the National Collegiate Athletic Association Championship as a team. Only the top 12 teams make the NCAAs each year. The Owls, with a score of 210.692, narrowly missed the No. 12 ranking held by William & Mary (211.650). Army scored a 215.642 to give them the 11th ranking.
“To qualify for the NCAAs, we had to beat Illinois-Chicago (No.13) and William & Mary [on Saturday],” junior Nadov Simenaur said. “We did beat them, but not by enough.”
The Owls said they felt they were worthy of competing. “I’m proud of this team,” Simenaur said. “We showed William & Mary and Illinois-Chicago that we are a better team than them. We proved it.”
Although the team did not qualify, a few individual Owls are likely to compete. They will find out later today who will be making the trip to West Point, N.Y., to represent Temple.
Many strong competitors move on after this season. This is the end of the road for John Behrle, Travis Kitchen, Abraham Kletzel, Ramos, and White.
“It’s kind of a bittersweet moment for me,” White said. “I’m happy it’s done, but I wish I could do it for another four years.”
Melissa Dipento can be reached at email@example.com.