Gymnastics Takes Wire-to-Wire Victory over Army in Star Meet
ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The Navy gymnastics team had its finest showing for this 2018 season with the bright lights of the Star Meet shining down upon it on Saturday. Coming into the meet as the favorites on the basis of season average scoring, the Mids made sure there would be no deviation from that outcome or those numbers as the team posted an 11.2-point victory over Army, by a final score of 402.9-391.7. Invigorated by a boisterous standing-room only crowd at Macdonough Hall, the Mids won five of the six events had individuals finish first on five different apparatuses.
“This victory over Army is everything,” exclaimed head coach Kip Simons. “Today almost went completely by the script. I told the guys all along that we weren’t going to be perfect, but we were definitely good enough today. They leaned on each other and if there was a mistake along the way the next guy stepped up and stopped the bleeding; even if the next guy up was a plebe in his first Star Meet. That’s a tough spot to be in. They all collectively worked together and got the job done.”
In the true team fashion that has carried Navy throughout the first half of its season, five different Mids found themselves on the top of the event standings on Saturday. David Toussaint (Fr., Warren, Ohio) topped the pommel horse rankings, Ryan McVay (Fr., Roseville, Calif.) on the rings, Frank Bradley (So., McLean, Va.) on the vault, Tanner West (So., Cypress, Texas) on the parallel bars and team captain Noah Beeman (Sr., Dayton, Ohio) on the high bar.
Navy’s day started on the floor exercise. Even though this was the only event without a Mid on the top of the scoring column a tightly packed group of four Mids in spots three through six did the trick and gave the hosts a solid foundation from which to expand their lead over the course of the meet. Bradley and Lucas Beltran (So., Corpus Christi, Texas) recorded matching 13.7-point scores to tie for third, before Toussaint posted 13.65 to sit in fifth. Ben Provost (So., South Hadley, Mass.) finished sixth with a score of 13.6. As a team, Navy scored 68.1 points, a 0.55-point advantage over Army.
“It’s always hard to get a meet started so I was very pleased with the job our floor team did,” said Simons. “Emotions are at an all-time high in this meet, so to settle in the way they did and so early was key. If you have a rough start on floor then you’re right into pommel horse, which is even more challenging. I was really pleased with how they were able to keep their emotions in check.”
Navy expanded its lead out to 4.8 points with a dominate team performance on the pommel horse at 65.35. The Midshipmen quartet of Toussaint, Ryan Orce (So., Gainesville, Fla.), Trevor North (So., Johnstown, Ohio) and Jake Carlson (Fr., Lakeville, Mass.) controlled the leaderboard as they finished 1-2-3-4. Toussaint tallied a score of 13.85, while Orce was second at 13.35. North and Carlson tied for third with identical totals of 12.9.
Another sweep of the top of the standings occurred on the rings when Navy finished in positions one through five and totaled 68.2 points. McVay and West tied for the individual crown with routines totaling 13.8 points each. Christian Correale (Jr., Harrisburg, Pa.) and Bradley ranked third and fourth overall with scores of 13.65 and 13.5, respectively. Andy Jones (Sr., Reading, Mass.) capped the clean sweep with a 13.45. Army’s top scorer Taka Giese came in off the pace with a 13.25. This rings performance gave Navy a commanding 8.0-point lead halfway through the competition.
The vault was the most evenly matched event on the afternoon as both teams recorded scores of 69.45. As such, the individual rankings rotated between Midshipmen and Black Knight athletes fairly equally. Bradley was the top finisher at 14.3 ahead of Army’s Ryan Wilson and his 14.05. Beltran came in third with a 14.0 before West netted 13.95 points to tie for fourth with Army’s Cole Casanova. Jones was the Mids’ fourth scorer at 13.65, a mark that tied for eighth overall.
Still up eight points with the end in sight, Navy continued pulling away on the parallel bars with a 0.95-point advantage courtesy of its 64.45 team points. West spearheaded the Mids’ lineup with an event-high 13.6, 0.3 points clear of the field. Correale and Beltran finished in third and fifth place with respective scores of 13.15 and 12.7 to backup West’s performance.
With the win nearly in hand, Navy left nothing up for doubt and left the spectators in Macdonough Hall buzzing with its team performance on the high bar. After Will Longwe (So., Stoughton, Mass.) led off with a score of 13.2 that ranked sixth, Orce came up and put down a 13.4 to place fifth. The slow build continued as McVay and West finished in third and fourth place respectively at 13.5 and 13.45. Senior team captain Noah Beeman capped the victory with the final routine of the day and a 13.8-point result that placed first overall.
“Losing at Army last year didn’t sit well with us,” remarked Simons. “It’s been an entire year of that feeling in your gut; it hurt. To send the seniors off with this win is the biggest takeaway for me today. For those three guys to be able to go off with a victory is awesome. They’ll remember this for the rest of their lives and they know that.”
After the meet, Simons was also quick to point out and give praise to the large crowd in attendance, “the third deck of MacD was rocking today and I give so much thanks to those fans, parents, family members, NMG alums and fellow Midshipmen who helped make it that way. This was an awesome atmosphere.”
As a team, Navy posted a 68.1 on the floor exercise, a 65.35 on the pommel horse, a 68.2 on the rings, a 69.45 on the vault, a 64.45 on the parallel bars and a 67.35 on the high bar.
Navy will see this same Army squad, as well as Air Force next Saturday in San Antonio, Texas as part of the All-Academy Championship. The three-team championship event is the highlight competition at the 2018 San Antonio Invitational. The Mission Concepcion Sports Complex will host the event that is slated to kick off at 2 p.m. ET.
“As we prepare for the All-Academy Championship next week, we are going to search for that sixth gear,” said Simons. “We’ve been firing at fourth and fifth gear this weekend, but we’re going to dig deep and see if we can ramp it up another notch and bring home that trophy!”
This victory by the Mids was one of two on Saturday that came as part of the 2017-18 Star Series presented by USAA. Navy's indoor men's track & field team was also successful in defeating Army.