This past Saturday, the men’s gymnastics team took on EIGL rival Springfield College at McGonigle Hall on Senior Night. The meet marked the final home meet for Temple’s two graduating seniors, Tyler Croteau and Patrick McLaughlin, the team’s all around leader.
The meet started off on a high note, as the Owls’ first competitor of the night, junior Jeff Zack, posted a season’s best 14.100 on floor exercise. Temple’s fifth gymnast on that event, senior Tyler Croteau, then topped that score with a 14.750. Temple seemed to be cruising along quite well, as the Owls’ best gymnast was due up next. Then, things took a turn for the worse.
McLaughlin was set to start the floor exercise, his second best event by average this season, when he came down on his right foot and ankle awkwardly during his first flip and instantly fell to the ground. After about 30 minutes, medical personnel cleared him from the McGonigle floor, and that personnel, along with his teammates, carried him to the middle of the floor away from the rest of the competition, where he waited to be evaluated and taken to the hospital. He scored a 3.000 on his lone event.
“Patrick is our leading all-arounder and the best all-arounder in our conference,” coach Fred Turoff said. “Losing someone like that is a big blow to our team.”
While McLaughlin waited to be taken away, the Owls began the pommel horse just 15 feet away from their injured leader. Prior to starting the event, the team gathered around its injured teammate and included him in a “TU” chant. He clapped for and high-fived each of his teammates after they finished on the horse.
When it came time for the medical staff to lift him onto a stretcher, the McGonigle crowd began to cheer. The fans gave him a standing ovation, and as he left, McLaughlin raised his hand in the air and held up one finger to acknowledge the crowd.
Turoff said after the meet that he walked around “on the edge of tears for most of the meet,” knowing that McLaughlin would most likely be injured for the remainder of his final season.
“[Watching the moment the injury occurred] was the saddest moment a coach can have,” Turoff said.
With McLaughlin only receiving a 3.000 on the floor exercise because of the injury, the Owls found themselves trailing Springfield College in the overall team score.
The Owls continued to battle, however, and eventually regained the lead thanks to a strong performance on rings from senior Scott Bloomfield. Bloomfield posted a 15.650, a meet best. The Owls also received stellar performances from the individuals who had to step in for McLaughlin, since he always competes in all six events.
“It’s wonderful that they were able to pull themselves together,” Turoff said about his team. “Interestingly, with Pat out, I had to ask a couple guys to do routines that they hadn’t warmed up for, so there were several guys who did what we call ‘cold sets,’ meaning no warm up.”
Turoff also complimented Croteau and senior Christopher Bizub.
“Tyler had a decent day. He stayed on his events and contributed well to our team’s final score,” Turoff said.
He also added that although Bizub only performed as an exhibition athlete on Saturday, that he would get to see some action in the team’s next two upcoming meets.
In the end, Temple overcame McLaughlin’s injury and defeated Springfield by a final score of 333.350 to 326.000 in the final home meet of the season. Temple will be in action Friday when the team travels to West Point, N.Y. to take on Army.
Raymond Boyd can be reached at email@example.com.