Navy Gymnastics Defeats Air Force and William & Mary on Senior Night
ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The No. 12 Navy gymnastics team closed out the home portion of its 2017 schedule with a passionate and precise effort on Friday night in a three-team meet versus No. 9 Air Force and No. 14 William & Mary. After celebrating the careers of seniors Jonny Tang (Malvern, Pa.) and team captain Wyatt LaPointe (Mechanicsburg, Pa.) in a pre-meet ceremony, the Mids (10-8) came out before a loud home crowd at Macdonough Hall and defeated the Falcons (8-5) and Tribe (7-4) with a final score of 404.1. Air Force finished second with 396.3 points, while William & Mary was just 0.05 points behind the Falcons with 396.25 points. The win was the first for Navy over Air Force in a regular season meet since the 2009 All-Academy Championships.
"It's tough to put into words a night like tonight when you look to send off two seniors that have really carried this program,” exclaimed head coach Kip Simons. “Wyatt's leadership has been the best leadership that I've seen in 16 years as a head coach and Jonny is just a workhorse out there; week-in, week-out working on and hitting six routines for us. Tonight's performance was a reflection of what the team thinks of those two guys. To come in and take down the ninth-ranked team in the country that's special for the team and special for me personally as I had the helms of that program for 10 years. It was a special night all around.
“We took a great step forward tonight and hit 29 of 30 routines. We're getting better and better every weekend. It's exciting that we're hitting full stride as we head towards the postseason."
Navy received outstanding performances from throughout its five-up, five-count lineup though Tang was the only Midshipmen to net an individual event victory as he finished first in the floor exercise with 14.4 points. One of three all-around competitors, Tang was the top performer with 82.0 combined points. Noah Beeman (Jr., Dayton, Ohio) completed his all-around effort with 80.25 points to rank second.
In Navy’s best five-up score of the season, the team posted a 68.1 on the floor exercise, 64.4 on the pommel horse, 67.45 on the rings, 68.0 on the vault, 69.4 on the parallel bars and 66.75 on the high bar.
The meet started with Tang and Lucas Beltran (Fr., Corpus Christi, Texas) finishing first and second on the floor exercise with respective scores of 14.4 and 14.15. The duo has posted one of the top individual score of the floor exercise in each of Navy’s last four meets. Their dominance was illustrated by the fact that the third-place score was 0.5 points off Tang’s pace and 0.25 points off Beltran’s. Ben Provost (Fr., South Hadley, Mass.) rounded out a strong set for the Mids with a sixth-place score of 13.55.
The competition remained close over the next two rotations with Ryan Orce (Fr., Gainesville, Fla.) leading the Mids on the pommel horse with a second-place score of 13.6. Beeman and Tang tied for fifth with identical results of 13.2.
On the rings, three Mids once again finished amongst the top-five as Tanner West (Fr., Cypress, Texas) ranked number two with a 14.0 score. LaPointe was close behind in third at 13.95 before Tang rounded out the top-five with a 13.7.
With the score after three rotations showing Navy with a 1.15-point advantage over Air Force, 199.95-198.8, the meet swung back into the Falcons’ favor with a 1.5-point margin on the vault. Frank Bradley (Fr., McLean, Va.) was the highest scoring Mid as his 13.95-point attempt was seventh-best overall.
Shaping up to be a tight competition down the stretch, Navy hit 10 of its final 10 routines and pulled away with quite a bit of pace as its parallel bar effort was 2.45 points better than Air Force and its high bar cumulative mark ended up 5.7 points ahead. The quartet of West, Tang, Orce and Beeman did the damage for Navy on the parallel bars as they all finished in the top-six. West and Tang ranked second and third with scores of 14.35 and 14.25, respectively, while Orce and Beeman were fifth and sixth at 13.85 and 13.8.
On the high bar, the Mids turned in five consistent routines that all finished between 13.55 and 13.15 points. Beeman’s top-score ranked third overall amongst individuals, while Mitchell Fornek (So., Oswego, Ill.) came through with a 13.45 that was fifth overall. Orce, Will Longwe (Fr., Stoughton, Mass.) and Tang recorded respective scores of 13.4, 13.2 and 13.15. Of note, Fornek’s score was season-high by 1.25 points as his prior mark was 12.2 at the Navy Open in January.
Navy will conclude its regular season next Friday night with the back end of a home-and-home series with Air Force out in Colorado Springs. The Mids and Falcons will go head-to-head beginning at 8 p.m. ET on March 17.