Mids edged by Air Force, 403.85-400.2; bests Army by 0.65 points
Mids win five of six events, as well as have top individual finisher on five of six
Mids post score of 396.4 to defeat William & Mary and Temple
Navy gymnasts place first in four of the six events
10 different Mids record top-10 results on Friday night as team finishes second overall
Kip Simons, a decorated head coach at Air Force and Olympic performer, was announced on Sept. 14, 2015 as the new head gymnastics coach at Navy. Simons came to Annapolis after 10 years as the head coach of a Falcons’ team that reached new heights nationally and became a perennial top-10 program.During his second year in Annapolis in 2017, the Mids recreated the magic of 2016 and qualified as a team for the NCAA Championship for the second straight season. Seeded 12th in the field, Navy surpassed that mark and netted 400.65 points in the second session at West Point, N.Y. to finish 11th overall at the meet, edging California by 0.4 points. A pair of championship final qualifiers in Jonny Tang (AA) and Lucas Beltran (FX, V) led the Mids to the highest finish in program history at the national competition.
While competing at the 2017 USAG and ECAC Championships, Navy gymnasts secured five individual event titles: Jonny Tang (ECAC - AA, FX), Tanner West (ECAC - PB), Lucas Beltran (USAG - V) and Ben Provost (USAG - HB).
For their work outside the gym, the Mids had nine gymnasts garner CGA All-America Scholar-Athlete honors in 2017 for GPAs above 3.2. As a team, Navy ranked seventh in the nation with a cumulative GPA of 3.21. The program also earned 2017 Academic Progress Rate (APR) public recognition from the NCAA.
Simons was recognized for the Mids' success as the 2017 CGA East Regional Coach of the Year.
In his first season as the Mids' head coach in 2016, the team reached new heights of success both in and out of the gym. Simons and Navy captured the program's first ECAC Championship since 1989 with a score of 423.4 to tie with Army West Point for the title. A program-record 424.1 score at the All-Academy Championship helped the team earn the league's automatic qualifying spot for the NCAA Championship and break the tie for ECAC supremacy. The Mids' spot as a team at the NCAA Championship was just the second ever in program history and first since 2009. In the national meet in Columbus, Ohio, Navy competed in the first team session and recorded a 410.1 score. Three individuals from the team advanced to the events finals: Jonny Tang (AA), Connor Gonzales (R) and Eric Poletti (R).
Prior to the NCAAs, Simons saw his squad earn 15 All-ECAC honors for top-six performances at the ECAC Championship with Mitchell Larios (V and PB), Eric Morrison (PH) and Gonzales (R) taking home event titles. In the regular season, the Mids defeated the Black Knights of Army in the annual Star Meet, 419.3-413.75.
In the classroom, Connor Westrick was selected as a CoSIDA Academic All-American Third Team honoree, in addition to 10 other Mids earning CGA All-America Scholar-Athletes nods for posting GPAs above 3.2. As a team, Navy ranked fifth in the nation in with a team grade point average of 3.355.
For his team's success in 2016, Simons was recognized as the CGA East Regional Coach of the Year, as well as the ECAC Men's Gymnastics Co-Coach of the Year.
An internationally renown gymnast since 1988, Simons was a four-year member of the United States Senior National team and competed on two world championship teams, as well as with the gold medal winning teams at the 1994 Goodwill Games and 1995 Pan-American Games. His competitive career culminated with a spot on the 1996 United States Olympic team. At the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Simons was a member of the U.S. team that finished fifth overall.
After retiring from international competition, Simons moved into collegiate coaching at the University of California in 2001. In five seasons from 2001 to 2005, the Bears twice finished in third place at the NCAA Championships and had four individuals win national championships. Simons was named Associate Head Coach of the Bears for his final season in Berkeley.
Beginning with the 2005-06 season, Simons started a 10-year reign in charge of the gymnastics program at the United States Air Force Academy. A five-time USAG Varsity Head Coach of the Year, the Falcons thrived under his leadership and expertise. In both 2012 and 2014, Air Force earned rankings as high as eighth nationally. Simons took a team to the NCAA National Qualifying Meet and saw 15 gymnasts advance into the NCAA Championships in each of his final five years in Colorado Springs. On three occasions under his tutelage Falcon athletes earned NCAA All-American nods, Greg Stine twice in 2008 (all-around and rings) and Tim Wang in 2014 (pommel horse).
In USAG National Championship competition, Simons and Air Force won six straight team titles from 2010 through 2015 and collected 28 individual event titles. Amongst the service academies, the Falcons won each of the last six meetings at the annual All-Academy Championship Meet between Air Force, Army and Navy.
In recognition of his team’s success Simons has been the recipient of four CGA Collegiate Division National Head Coach of the Year awards (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013), as well as two NCAA Regional Head of the Year (2008, 2010) and Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Coach of the Year (2006, 2014) honors, respectively.
A 1994 graduate from Ohio State University, Simons earned numerous honors throughout his four years with the Buckeyes, including Big Ten Freshman of the Year and the Nissen-Emery Award, as the nation’s top senior gymnast. He was a four-year member of the All-Big 10 and earned conference titles on the parallel bars (1992, 1994), still rings (1992) and high bar (1993). Simons garnered two NCAA All-America certificates during his time in Columbus. In September 2006, the Varsity “O” Association inducted him into Ohio State’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
For his work and success throughout the sport, Simons was inducted into the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame in the summer of 2010. He was joined in the 2010 induction class by 1996 Olympic team gold medalist Dominique Moceanu, 1992 Olympic team bronze medalist Wendy Bruce-Martin, 2000 Olympian Jennifer Parilla, two-time U.S. Men's Olympic team head coach Kevin Mazeika and 2000 U.S. Olympic trampoline coach Robert Null.