Owls send five to finals at NCAA championships

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LEE MILLER TTN file photos The men’s gymnastics team was 11.7 points away from advancing to the final round of the NCAA championships on Thursday, April 19. The Owls last won a national championship in 1949.

Men’s gymnastics placed No. 10 overall at the NCAAs.

At the NCAA men’s gymnastics championships, the Owls finished 11.7 points out from advancing to the final round of team competition and having a chance to claim its first national championship since 1949.

No. 10 Temple placed 10th behind No. 5 Minnesota, U.C. Berkeley-California, No. 2 Oklahoma and the eventual national champions No. 4 Illinois in session two of the preliminary round at the Lloyd Nobel Center at Oklahoma on Thursday, April 19. The Owls posted a score of 339.450 in their session, which wasn’t enough to advance to the team finals.

“The difference between us and the top guys is the amount of difficulty in their routines,” coach Fred Turoff said. “We go in with a realistic view. The teams ahead of us have more skilled gymnasts and they have harder routines and are slated to do better.”

“The fully funded teams that we go against have better gymnasts overall,” Turoff added.

In his 36th year at the helm, Turoff earned his eighth NCAA Eastern Region Coach of the Year award in his career at the national championships, which was voted by National Association of Collegiate Gymnastics Coaches. Former All-American Patrick McLaughlin earned the assistant coach award for the Eastern Region after his first season in the coaching position for the Owls.

In the team qualifier round, Turoff said the team didn’t commit a fall or major error on any of the apparati. Coming off their first Eastern College Athletic Conference championship title in four years, when they scored a team record of 347.400, the Owls faced a more rigid judging system, Turoff said.

“The judging is a little harder because they have to separate the top teams now,” Turoff said. “They were more demanding as judges even though we had a similar performance as what we did at conference.”

Despite failing to advance as a team to the championship round, the squad qualified five athletes, its most since 1995, for the individual event finals held on Saturday, April 21.

Turoff said senior Adam Al-Rokh had arguably his best performance of the season in the all-around as he finished 16th overall in the finals with a combined score of 82.750, while senior Chris Mooney completed the all-around final with a combined score of 80.350.

“Mooney missed two landings, but he was protective of his knee injury,” Turoff said. “He was able to go and compete in all the rounds and was able to make it to the next round, which showed how he is a strong competitor.”

Also competing in the individual event finals were seniors Allan Malone, who placed 28th in the floor exercise, Matt Martin, who placed 43rd in the vault and junior Alex Tighe, who placed in a tie for 39th on the parallel bars.

For Al-Rokh, Turoff said the Bensalem, Pa. native hopes to join the U.S. Men’s Gymnastics program.

Looking forward to next season, Turoff said he expects Tighe knows what he needs to do next season to improve his routine and make it to the podium in the event finals. Turoff also said Martin may return next season to use his final year of eligibility.

“Overall we had a highly successful season,” Turoff said. “Only thing we were missing was an All-American and we just didn’t get it done this year.”

Connor Showalter can be reached at connor.showalter@temple.edu.

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