Though the regular season came to an end for the men’s gymnastics team on Saturday, the Owls don’t expect their season to be over anytime soon. Behind strong performances by seniors Nyika White and David Ramos, the Owls beat Navy, 211.600-207.245, to move their record above .500 with the conference championship looming next weekend.
It has been a difficult season for the Owls, who haven’t finished first at a meet since Feb. 20. White, who competed for the first time since missing four meets with a shoulder injury, tied for the high score on rings with a 9.60.
“It’s been a rocky season,” White said. “But we’ve really picked up momentum in the last few weeks.”
The Owls have posted their three highest marks in the past three meets, despite losing two out of the three.
White, Ramos and three other seniors were honored before the last home meet of the season. Co-captain John Behrle said senior leadership became key as the difficult season progressed.
“At the beginning of the year, there was a lot of negativity on this team,” said Behrle, who has been battling wrist problems for a few weeks. “Now we all have one focus and that’s the upcoming championships.”
Ramos won three events to lead the way for the Owls. He posted a high score of 9.20 on vault, defeating Navy senior Josh Blackman by a narrow margin. Ramos also won parallel bars with a score of 8.90 and floor exercise with 9.00.
White, the other co-captain, tied with Blackman for the best performance on rings. Coming into the season, White was the top returning gymnasts on rings in the country.
Although the Owls will lose five key contributors in White, Ramos, Behrle, Travis Kitchen and Abraham Kletzel, coach Fred Turoff said he feels the Owls’ future is still bright.
Underclassmen such as Luke Vexler, Andrew Corp and Sterling Kramer have made large contributions throughout the year and could take on leadership roles in the future.
Their veteran teammates said they were impressed by the immediate impact made by the freshmen, many of them fresh out of high school or club competition.
“The atmosphere is so much different on the collegiate level than in club gymnastics,” White said. “There are people screaming after you and there is more demanded of you. I appreciate all of [the freshmen] for what they have been able to do this year.”
Freshman Luke Vexler is among those who have performed well this season. Vexler won all-around Saturday with a score of 52.700. He has competed in every meet and is a key competitor on pommel horse.
Turoff said he is excited about the direction in which the team is headed. He said the Owls’ performance at the ECAC Championships this Saturday will determine their NCAA qualifying hopes.
Twelve teams are invited to the qualifiers and the Owls are currently ranked No. 13 nationally.
Jeremy Drummond can be reached at email@example.com.