With their season starting this weekend, the members of the men’s gymnastics team said they have never been more ready. After placing third in last year’s competition, the Owls want to bring the ECAC title back to Temple.
The Owls, under co-captains Nyika White and John Behrle, feel confident they can have a winning season. Last season ended with some gymnasts taking issue with what they perceived as anti-Temple judging at the NCAA competition.
“Last year we were disappointed that we came in second place because of our uniforms, but this year the team is working harder,” said White, an all-American who placed third on rings in the NCAAs. “There are a lot of guys fighting for spots this weekend. Everything needs to be clean, right, and perfect. End of story.”
Jose Ramos, another key returning Owl, attributed his team’s success so far this year to their ability to work together as a team.
“Everyone’s doing great and we are really confident with what we’re doing. There is so much team unity since we all live together. We do everything together. We have good chemistry,” Ramos said.
This season, Ramos will compete in all-around. He looks to perform most strongly on parallel bars and pommel horse. Last year, the team did not perform well on pommel horse, and worked hard in the offseason to improve that.
This season, the team welcomes seven freshmen. White said they are going to contribute a great deal. He said Sterling Kramer is one of the biggest recruits.
“He is a big, big contributor in the all-around, high bar, and the parallel bar. I can’t wait to see him,” White said.
The team has seen its share of injuries. Last season, Travis Kitchen was out due to a broken foot. He said he has been working hard and is ready to compete.
“It still hurts off and on, but it’s nothing that I can’t get through,” Kitchen said. “I am looking forward to the floor exercise. I have to see how things go, but I felt pretty good up there [in practice].”
The Owls said they are excited for the dual competition today against Penn State and Navy. The Nittany Lions are one of the toughest opponents the Owls will face all season.
“We’re going to do better than we have in previous years [against Penn State],” Kitchen said. “They’re a good team and one year we almost had them. We’re going to do good this year.”
The team also takes on William & Mary this weekend.
“We’re bringing home that cup this year,” White said.
Melissa DiPento can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.