No. 10 gymnastics used the vault event to beat the Tribe.
Despite key injuries to junior all-arounder Chris Mooney and others, the men’s gymnastics team was able to take down William & Mary, 340.700-332.900.
Coming into Saturday’s competition, the two teams’ seasons were polar opposites. While the Owls’ were ranked No. 10 in the nation, the Tribe was young and seeking standout competitors.
“We wanted to hit a 340,” senior captain Pat McLaughlin said. “It is a stable score, and we were missing some of the biggest components of our team.”
“Chris, who is very good at the all-around, Allan [Malone] is out with an injury to his elbow, Scott [Bloomfield] will be coming back, and Jesse [Kitzen-Abelson] is out. With those four major guys out, this is a great score,” McLaughlin added.
The night’s lone all-arounder for the Owls, senior Adam Al-Rokh, was equally as satisfied.
“We had a really decimated squad tonight, and we came only about a point short of our last score,” Al-Rokh said. “Tonight’s meet was actually really good.”
However, the contrast between the two teams could not be seen until late in the competition. Both stayed within two points of each other through the first three rounds of competition.
Then Temple had its breakaway event – the vault.
“The vault has been a strong point for us all season, and it is staying there,” McLaughlin said.
The vault included the highest event score for both teams, with Temple posting a 60.8. The event also included the evening’s highest individual score by junior Evan Burke’s 15.6.
“[Burke] bumbled on the floor a bit because he tumbled out of the area twice – that was a problem, but he finished strong,” coach Fred Turoff said. “I put him in vault because he’s been hitting it pretty well, and he responded by doing a very nice vault.”
“The vault was valued at 16.2, and he scored a 15.6. He had some flaws with it but not too many,” Turoff added.
Following the vault, the Owls outscored the Tribe, 113.0-108.2.
“Certainly, [during] the last two events we had some really good hits,” Turoff said.
The Owls preformed spectacularly on the high bar, which caught McLaughlin’s attention.
“We finally did it as we can do it,” McLaughlin said. “Not a lot of falls and just enough hits. It was good.”
Turoff found not only success, but also humor on the high bar.
“Although one almost did, no one fell off the high bar which is a really good way to finish off the meet,” Turoff said.
At the meet’s end, the Owls were led by Al-Rokh who posted an 84.000 on the night – his highest score this season.
“I was better than the last meet and the winter cup we had in Las Vegas. I’ve been moving up steadily throughout the season,” Al-Rokh said. “I wanted to do better, but I can’t complain too much.”
The team also had strong contributions from McLaughlin who posted an 56.200.
“My high bar was certainly my best event tonight,” McLaughlin said. “I messed up a little on my parallel bars, but I think that is coming.
“Pommel – I fell off. [Still] rings – I got back on. That was exciting,” McLaughlin added.
For McLaughlin, the 2011 season has been extremely meaningful, coming off an injury that took away his 2010 season.
“Rebirth. I have new life,” McLaughlin said. “Every day out there I appreciate [it] a different way than I ever have.”
“Looking forward, I would like to do all-around,” McLaughlin added. “If the Lord blesses me with it, that is what I’m going to do.”
Al-Roch said he is looking toward a matchup against the University of Illinois at Chicago in two weeks.
“Even though we are ranked ahead of them, they are not going to be an easy match, especially in their building,” Al-Rokh said. “We will have to go back there for the Eastern College Athletic Conference championships, so we definitely want to show them what we got, so we can get in their heads a little bit.”
Coming into Saturday’s meet, the Owls were ranked No. 10 in the nation. Turoff said he feels his team can continue to hold strong.
“I think we will hover in the nine-to-11 area in the nation, especially with tonight’s score,” Turoff said. “If we get a good away score next weekend and the following, then we’ll definitely be hanging in there tight.”
“We have three away meets in a row, so those scores are going to count very heavily for us,” Turoff added.
The Owls’ next meet will be at Springfield College on Friday.
Liam McKenna can be reached at email@example.com.