The men’s gymnastics team ran into some trouble in Chicago last weekend, but coach Fred Turoff said that is to be expected in a meet with third-ranked Illinois.
“Illinois is a stronger team [and] we knew that coming out,” Turoff said from Chicago in a telephone interview.
The 15th-ranked Owls kept the Illini on their toes on Saturday, losing by just 18 team points, 209.650-191.150.
Despite the score, Turoff said he was unhappy with the Owls, who dropped all six team events at the meet.
“We have to hit the routines that we [hit] in practice,” Turoff said. “Being consistent in competition is something we need to work on.”
Last weekend’s snow storm made matters worse for Turoff and the Owls, who didn’t arrive in Philadelphia until today.
Sophomore Luke Vexler, who ranks seventh in the nation in all-around, was Temple’s only individual champion. Vexler captured the floor exercise championship with a 9.0 score.
Vexler’s teammates, sophomore Sterling Kramer and junior Clay Stewart, finished with 8.2 scores on floor.
“Luke was great on the floor, but no event went really well,” Turoff said. “We lost six to 10 points in mistakes, which makes a big difference.”
The Owls’ lost points may have been just what they needed to put them over the top in floor, their best event. On vault Temple finished with a 35.000 team total, less than one point shy of Illinois’ 35.900 team total in the event.
Each of Temple’s gymnasts who competed on vault finished with scores over 8.00. Vexler and sophomore Alex Gorski both finished with 8.80 individual totals, which tied them for fourth place.
Vexler and Kramer both finished with top three all-around performances, placing second and third, respectively, behind Illinois’ Wes Haagensen, who scored a 50.400. Vexler totaled 49.150 with Kramer following close behind with a 45.600 showing. Kramer was the Owls’ top finisher on parallel bars, earning fifth place at the meet with an 8.300 showing.
Senior co-captain Brian Forquer earned a tie for fourth place on the rings with an 8.000 score.
In his 30th year as the team’s coach, Turoff recognized the overall effort of the team. He said the Owls need to become “stronger minded and more aggressive in competition.”
He later stressed the need for his team to refine and polish its individual skills.
“[Otherwise] it’s going to be a challenge for the guys,” Turoff said. “They have to look at themselves and improve.”
The Owls won’t have much time to improve before Saturday’s home-opening quad-meet at McGonigle Hall. In the meantime, the snow delay has marooned the team in Chicago.
“We might be snowed in here until [today],” Turoff said. “We can’t do much sitting around here.”
The three other teams at this weekend’s quad-meet will be M.I.T., Springfield and Stanford. The Owls swept M.I.T last season, with Derek Shepard winning on vault and all-around. The next day the Owls defeated Springfield when Vexler won pommel horse, floor exercise and all-around.
Turoff said the team hopes for another clean sweep of the two teams from Massachusetts. The quad-meet is a good time to showcase the Owls’ improvements, he added.
Temple will serve as the host of the 2006 American Cup, which will be held March 3-4. Temple’s gymnastics teams were visited by former-Olympic greats Shannon Miller and John Macready last week in an effort to promote the event.
Danielle K. Milner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.