Tighe competes as lone Owl in national finals

Senior Alex Tighe finished in 28th place on parallel bars, posting a score of 14.250, and in 36th place on high bar with a 13.650 at the NCAA nationals.

Temple did not advance past the first round of the NCAA National Championships hosted at Penn State University on April 19, however, the Owls were represented by one gymnast for the following day’s individual competition.

Senior Alex Tighe was the lone Owl who qualified to compete in the all-around finals. The native of Brookfield, Wis., qualified to compete on high bar and parallel bars against the best collegiate gymnasts the United States has to offer.

However Tighe was disappointed to be the only Temple gymnast to qualify.

“I would’ve loved to have my teammates cheering me, but we’re with the best in the nation right now and it takes some luck and some good gymnastics to move forward to the championship round,” Tighe said. “The luck happened to be on my side and the luck just wasn’t with the other guys, and I wish I could’ve had more teammates moving on.”

At the all-around finals, Tighe finished in 28th place on parallel bars, posting a score of 14.250, and in 36th place on high bar with a 13.650. Overall, Tighe said he wasn’t disappointed with his performance, but not thrilled either.

“I did OK,” Tighe said. “But I didn’t do my absolute perfect routines. I had a really great parallel bars routine but had a very small error. And on high bar I tried to be a little too perfect, and when you try to be overly perfect you often end up having a mistake and that’s what happened on high bar.”

“[Tighe] wasn’t optimal,” coach Fred Turoff said. “But the fact that he made it to the championship round and had the chance to be event finalist on some events, I think that is a pretty significant accomplishment for him.”

Tighe has already achieved a few significant accomplishments this season, including being named the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference Senior Athlete of the Year. Earlier last week, Tighe was recognized as being a finalist for the Nissan-Emery Award, an award that is given to the top gymnast in the country. But Tighe said that individual accolades are not something he strives for.

“I don’t really have any awards that I try to win,” Tighe said. “I am here to do my gymnastics and improve gymnastically, and with the hard work often does come the recognition that I’ve gotten, but [awards] are not something that I try to get.”

Tighe was arguably Temple’s most consistent gymnast this season, and was an important part of the team’s success.

“He’s a steady guy, you can count on him for three events, and he’s a good example for everybody else for how you want to perform at what you want to aim for,” Turoff said.

With the season now officially over, Turoff was happy with his team’s performance this year. The 37-year coach previously said that competing in the National Championships was just going to be the end of an exemplary season, with the team already winning the ECAC title two weeks prior.

“I have to be happy,” Turoff said. “Because we won the conference again, we had a few bad meets, but we had some pretty good meets and certainly winning the conference is the goal every year. And this team knew they could do it and just pulled it out, and I am very happy about that.”

Next season however will prove to be a tougher challenge. With the team graduating eight gymnasts, including Tighe, Temple’s underclassmen will have to prove their worth to win the ECAC title for a third straight year.

“Next year is going to be a tougher year,” Turoff said. “I’m still working on recruits, but I’ve got some really good guys returning.”

Freshman Evan Eigner admitted that next year is going to be more challenging, but thinks the squad will be able to be successful.

“Next year we are losing eight strong seniors, so it might be a little tough for us,” Eigner said. “But I still feel strong for next year, I personally believe that we have potential, I think we can still do a good job next year.”

Samuel Matthews can be reached at samuel.matthews@temple.edu

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