Casey Polizzotto burst down the runway alongside the crowd at McGonigle Hall, and catapulted off the vault.
Moments after he had landed, the judges had given the freshman gymnast a score of 14.350, and Polizzotto was pumped.
“I was just really motivated to help the team,” Polizzotto said. “I love this team and anything I can do to help the team’s score is what I’m there to do.”
The score stood as a season-high in the event for the Owls for all of a couple minutes. Sophomore Joe Rydzefski bettered Polizzotto’s score with a mark of 14.400. The vault ended up being the best team event for the Owls (69.900), as they competed against University of Illinois at Chicago and the Air Force Academy on Saturday. The meet was the last scheduled home event before the squad is scheduled to be cut on July 1.
“I think the training effect is coming in, and they’re starting to feel a little more comfortable with their vaults,” coach Fred Turoff said. “We were landing a little bit better. Hopefully, they start thinking about good form in the air, because that’s where we give it away most of the time.”
Temple dropped their last home meet before July’s athletic cuts take place, posting a total score of 402.500. Air Force cruised to victory with a score of 424.500 over second-place finisher, University of Illinois at Chicago (403.550).
Hurting the Owls most was the pommel horse, as their team score of 63.500 was the worst of any team in any event.
“Staying on an apparatus is key no matter which apparatus it is,” Turoff said. “Landing well is a key.”
One thing that is improving is how the Owls are finishing their routines – but there is still work to be done.
“We had a few more sticks today, but still not enough,” Turoff said. “I think Air Force kind of schooled both of us on how to stick dismounts.”
Another area Air Force excelled in was on the floor, as the team posted posted a score of 72.700, which was the best score of any school in any event. Temple scored a 69.500 in this event, which was its second best team score of the meet.
Evan Eigner, who has been consistent on the rings all season, scored a team-high 14.40, the third best individual score in the event.
“I just keep doing many routines,” Eigner said. “Every week just keep doing the same things at practice, and hopefully it keeps translating over well to the meets.”
And even in defeat, the Owls have been improving, as 402.500 is a team-high score thus far this year. Temple has shown no signs of slowing down.
“We’re improving at a better rate,” freshman Jacob Welsh said. “But we have two weeks now, so we’re going to grind hard until our next meet and do our best.”
Next week, Temple has off as coach Turoff will head to the Winter Challenge in Las Vegas. Originally, some individuals were scheduled to compete in Nevada this coming weekend.
“Alex Tighe would have been the guy heading up to Las Vegas, or maybe all of my all-arounders,” Turoff said. “But the rules were changed and they only let in certain guys.”
Now, the trip will serve as a recruiting trip in case the program gets saved before July.
“I’ll give the guys a day off, and go out there and watch the best of the U.S.,” Turoff said. “And see if there are any [high school] seniors that are still interested in Temple.
Steve Bohnel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SteveSportsGuy1.