After cuts, gymnastics opens season

Opening what is set to be its final season at the West Point Open, the men’s gymnastics team posted its highest score total in the same event that the women have been struggling with – the floor exercise.

But with it, the Owls suffered a significant loss. Coach Fred Turoff said that co-captain John Leonard broke his forearm.

“He was doing an excellent floor routine, and then stood up and his arm was broken,” Turoff said. “That’s a very big loss for us.”

The Owls finished fifth out of six teams competing in the competition, posting a score of 398.650.  Penn State won the meet with a score of 428.100.  William and Mary finished in second, Army in third, and Navy was fourth.  Springfield placed behind Temple in sixth.

Besides losing Leonard for the foreseeable future, Turoff sees much room for improvement.

“There was a lot of mistakes, a lot of young gymnast mistakes that will get better as the season goes on,” he said.

Specifically, Temple struggled on the high bars, posting the lowest team total of the meet at 61.500 points.  Army posted the highest team total with a score of 68.100.

“We had four guys that fell [in score] on high bar, so that’s a very big loss,” Turoff said.  “That means we certainly lost at least three points.”

The Owls scored 69.200 in their best event, the floor exercise.  This was fourth out of six teams in the meet.  Penn State led that category with a tally of 74.200.

Temple’s second best event was on the vault, as the team posted a score of 68.500.  Penn State again led the way, scoring 72.550 points in this category.

In the second day of the Open, two Owls, junior Mike Bittner and senior Brendan Williams, competed in the individual finals in the pommel horse event.

“Mike had a problem in his mount where he’s had a sore elbow that he injured in the summer,” Turoff said.  “But he was able to finish his routine.  Brendan finished his routine with a little struggling but did place fifth in the pommel horse, so he did get a medal out of the competition.”

Williams’ scored 13.300 in the event, which was won by Army’s Connor Venrick with a score of 14.600.

Next week, the Owls will head to Annapolis to take part in the Navy Open.

“This week we’re going to focus on the individual things that gave people the most trouble in their routines,” Turoff said.  “If we can one correction to one move in a routine, then that will jump our score up quite a bit.  And I told our guys that the challenge is to beat Navy, because they beat us by two points here, and we certainly gave away plenty of points.”

Steve Bohnel can be reached at steven.bohnel@temple.edu or on Twitter @SteveSportsGuy1.

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