The men’s gymnastics team made a bold statement to its conference at its regular-season finale Saturday.
The Owls topped the competition, taking down Army and Navy in a tri-meet at McGonigle Hall. The Owls (15-3) spring-boarded to their highest scoring margin all season, at 206.150.
The Black Knights placed second at 199.600, and the Midshipmen rounded out the day with a 193.200.
“Army is our most serious competitor in the [Eastern Collegiate Athletic] Conference right now, so it’s really good to beat them – and beat them by such a large margin,” senior specialist Clay Stewart said. “It was extremely important and it’s going to boost our ego going into the conference championships.”
Stewart cruised to a team-high 9.000 on the floor exercise.
Paving the way for the Owls, the ninth-ranked team in the nation, were the usual suspects – sophomore Jon Vogtman, and juniors Sterling Kramer and Luke Vexler.
All three are currently ranked in the national top 15 all-around standings and combined to deliver 129.050 of the team’s total 206.150 points.
Vogtman’s scores were used for all six events, leading the team on pommel horse with an 8.950, and tying with freshman all-arounder Pat McLaughlin on rings with
a score of 8.500.
“It feels good especially going into ECACs with the win here and the high score of the year,” Vogtman said.
“It gives us some confidence and we are able to go back to the gym and tune up.”
Despite the leadership by the “big three”, the team couldn’t have earned the victory without being plugged by some ancillary parts.
McLaughlin posted the Owls’ highest score on vault with an 8.900 and junior Andy Corp provided an electric routine on horizontal bar producing an 8.800.
Senior Derek Shepard came through with a solid 8.400 on rings.Anytime it appeared Army was making a charge, the Owls countered it. During the fifth event for the Owls, the parallel bars, the team searched for momentum.
They found it in Vogtman, who posted an 8.350, Vexler, who landed his dismount and received an 8.300, and Kramer, who nailed a brilliant routine en route to an 8.800. It was a fitting end to senior day for the Owls. Prior to the competition Shepard, Stewart, Dan Berlin and Nadov Simenauer were honored for their four years of commitment to the sport.
Though it was senior day, the seniors will have one more chance to perform in front of the home crowd at the ECAC Championship March 31 and April 1 at McGonigle Hall.
Coach Fred Turoff is confident in his team and its ability to persevere.
“You always feel better going into a championship when your performances are on the upswing,” Turoff said. “And certainly I felt that today and the guys also realized it,” he continued. “They just have to make some small improvements. But we’re just cleaning up, you know, having a good time.”
Anthony Stipa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.