Even with three competitors out due to injury, the men’s gymnastics team managed a couple of first-place finishes in a weekend trip through Massachusetts.
The Owls claimed victory over MIT and Springfield on consecutive days, despite being without the services of senior Nyika White, junior Nadov Simenaur and freshman Sterling Kramer.
“I got to cheer and sit on the sidelines, which was almost just as fun [as competing],” White said.
The Owls topped MIT, 197.40-177.90, on Saturday and Springfield, 204.100-199.250, on Sunday.
Each absent gymnast said he believed he will be able to compete soon.
“I plan on hopefully competing this week, so I am excited,” Simenaur said.
The injuries, coupled with the relatively soft opponents, gave a lot of untested gymnasts a chance to compete in this weekend’s meets. Simenaur said experience they gained could help the team be successful.
Eleven gymnasts competed against MIT, helping the Owls win all six events. Freshman Derek Shepard claimed first place in all-around and also won vault. Many of the Owls said they felt confident in their performances and proved their value to the team.
Freshman Luke Vexler led the way against Springfield. Vexler won all-around Sunday and placed first on pommel horse and floor exercise.
“I’m satisfied with how well I performed,” Vexler said. “Springfield is close to my hometown [Amherst, Mass.], so it was awesome that all of my friends came out to support me.”
Coach Fred Turoff said he was pleased with how the gymnasts competed as well.
“Overall I’m satisfied, but there are still places that are weak that just haven’t been fixed well enough,” Turoff said. “I’m like any coach. I’m not satisfied until everything is perfect. Still, we made some progress this weekend and, eventually, we can get everything fixed.”
After the wins this weekend, the Owls said their focus for the rest of the season is on improvement.
“We just have to take everything one meet at a time,” Simenaur said. “We’re obviously trying to better our scores through every competition, which is something that we can do.”
Turoff said he was surprised at how well both of the Owls’ opponents performed this weekend.
“Both teams performed pretty well,” Turoff said. “I know that MIT scored higher than [their goal].”
The Owls compete at home this weekend against No. 1 Illinois and Japan’s Collegiate All Stars.
“I don’t expect us to beat either of these teams, because they are just too strong,” Turoff said. “We are going to do our best to make it a good show, and it will provide us with some good competition.”
The coaches and many gymnasts said they are anxious for the meet.
“It’s going to be a good show for everyone to see,” Turoff said. “They’re going to see top U.S. gymnastics as well as top international gymnastics.”
Melissa DiPento can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.