The team finished behind University of Illinois at Chicago on Sunday.
The men’s gymnastics team came away with a second-place finish in the final round of the Eastern Intercollegiate Gymnastics League Championships after trailing William & Mary by 2.200 points before entering the vault event on Saturday.
The University of Illinois at Chicago claimed its third-consecutive team championship title with 346.900 points, while Temple finished in second for the second year in a row with a total of 338.300 points, narrowly defeating William & Mary (336.4). Rounding out the six-team field was Springfield College (333.200), Navy (326.700) and Army (324.300).
The championship meet, which UIC hosted, was made up of a team competition, consisting of individual preliminary rounds for each event and an individual competition taking place on Sunday. The Cherry and White entered the meet No. 14 nationally and third in the conference with a four-score average of 337.025.
“Interestingly we scored just above our average coming in, but I thought we still had some problems that hurt our team score,” coach Fred Turoff said. “It would have been hard to catch UIC. They had a great meet.”
Temple lost to UIC in a quad meet during the regular season, which also was hosted by UIC on March 6. In the latest matchup with the Flames, the Owls lost five of six events to the host team.
“Unfortunately, that wasn’t one of our better meets,” senior Jesse Kitzen-Abelson said. “It was disappointing to get the 338 [total points] when we wanted to get in the 340s and win the meet, but UIC was clearly the best team there.”
In the final event, the Owls were led by sophomore Brett Statman and junior Chris Mooney, who each posted scores of 15.300 in the vault to tie for fifth place in the field.
Mooney competed in the all around, placing sixth with a total of 82.600 points at the end of the six events and placed third in the floor exercise during the individual competition, as well.
Senior Patrick McLaughlin placed first in the preliminary round of the high bar with a score of 14.600 to help the Owls win the event in the team competition. However, due to errors in McLaughlin’s routine, he was unable to finish better than sixth in the finals of the individual competition.
Instead, it was teammate sophomore Alex Tighe who took the gold in the individual championship final. Tighe, who trains with McLaughlin in practice, scored a 14.150 on the high bars to claim the title.
“Pat and I kind of push each other in the gym because he is a very naturally-talented, hardworking guy, and I’m also a fairly talented, hardworking guy,” Tighe said. “I told him last year, my freshman year, that he had a target on his back, and I was out to shoot him. I trained to get it, and he’s been training to keep it away.”
In the team competition, the Owls qualified at least one gymnast for each event’s final with seven gymnasts competing in 11 events during the individual competition. Although, mistakes with routines in the floor exercise and pommel horse events caused the Owls’ chance to earn its 17 ECAC title to slip away.
“We started out right where we needed to be,” McLaughlin said. “We weren’t clean enough to beat a team like UIC on that day.”
“You can’t fall off pommels like that and expect to win a championship,” McLaughlin said.
Other gymnasts who placed in the individual competition were Kitzen-Abelson, who took third in the pommel horse and Statman, who placed sixth in the vault. The Owls will find out which teammates will qualify for the NCAA Championships after the National Qualifying Averages are final this week.
The Owls are expected to have several of their gymnasts compete at the NCAA Championship, which will take place at Ohio State on April 14-16.
“There’s not going to be too much changing of their routines.” Turoff said. “It’s just a matter of trying to get rid of some of the errors and sharpening up.”
Connor Showalter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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