Navy Gymnastics Finishes Second at ECAC Championships
CHICAGO – In a hard-fought postseason championship event, the Navy gymnastics team went head-to-head with William & Mary over six rotations at the ECAC Championships on Saturday. Competing as part of a five-team field at the University of Illinois-Chicago, the Mids led through four rotations before a late charge by the Tribe gave the team from Williamsburg a 404.7-402.55 victory at the UIC Pavilion. Army finished third with 392.45 points, while Springfield was fourth at 392.2 and UIC was fifth at 384.55.
“This was a tough loss for all of us,” remarked head coach Kip Simons. “I asked our guys to commit to excellence and give me everything they had in the tank and they did just that. Ultimately, we had a few too many mistakes and William & Mary hit their routines down the stretch. This was the biggest stage our plebes have ever stepped foot on and I think the pressure got to some of them during different parts of the meet."
With the ECAC Championships moving to a one-day format this year, individual titles and All-ECAC honors were also on the line on Saturday. At the completion of the meet, Navy gymnasts had captured 11 All-ECAC accolades with Jonny Tang (Sr., Malvern, Pa.) and Tanner West (Fr., Cypress, Texas) highlighting the Mids’ group individual performers. Tang finished atop the podium with victories for the all-around and floor exercise, while also placing third on the high bar and fourth on the parallel bars for four total all-league honors. West tallied two All-ECAC performances as the freshman won the parallel bar competition and finished runner-up on the rings.
As a team, Navy posted a 67.55 on the floor exercise, 65.4 on the pommel horse, 66.4 on the rings, 68.45 on the vault, 67.25 on the parallel bars and 67.5 on the high bar.
Navy’s first rotation of the day was the vault. An All-ECAC effort by Frank Bradley (Fr., McLean, Va.) led the way as he placed sixth overall with a 14.05 score. Noah Beeman (Jr., Dayton, Ohio) made it two Mids in the top-10 as he finished tenth with 13.85 points.
Next up for Navy was the parallel bars, one of the Mids’ most successful events. West headlined both Navy’s lineup and the entire discipline with a 14.4 score that cleared the 26-gymnast field by 0.35 points. Tang finished fourth at 14.1 before Beeman and Vadim Ivanov (Jr., Las Vegas, Nev.) tied for tenth with identical 13.5 results.
Up 1.75 points over William & Mary through two turns, Navy had an even more productive performance as all five starters finished in the top-10. Tang and Beeman finished back-to-back in third and fourth place with respective scores of 13.65 and 13.6. A trio of freshmen rounded out Navy’s lineup as Ben Provost (South Hadley, Mass.) tied for seventh with a 13.45-point effort before Will Longwe (Stoughton, Mass.) and West tied for ninth at 13.4.
Tang led the Mids’ effort on the floor exercise with an individual title worthy routine that scored 14.1 points. In the final standings, Tang’s score held off William & Mary’s Neal Courter, the runner-up, by 0.1 points. Beeman and Bradley tied for tenth place with 13.6 scores, respectively.
After four rotations, Navy was up on William & Mary by 2.6 points at 270.75 to 268.15. The Tribe made a big move in the fifth turn with 70.2 points on the vault, while the Mids’ pommel horse lineup netted them 65.4 points. Ryan Orce (Fr., Gainesville, Fla.) carried the flag for Navy on the pommel horse as he finished tied for second with 14.3 points. Beeman was the next highest finishing Mid in 12th with 13.3 points.
Down, 2.2 points, Navy went down swinging on the rings with three top-10 results, but William & Mary’s parallel bar team dropped just 0.05 points to clinch the team title. Wyatt LaPointe (Sr., Mechanicsburg, Pa.) and West challenged for the individual title on the rings as the pair both registered scores of 13.7. William & Mary’s Peter Makey finished first on the apparatus at 13.8. Tang gave Navy its third top-10 score as the senior tied for seventh at 13.4. In his first action since Jan. 21 at the Navy Open, Christian Correale (So., Harrisburg, Pa.) tied for 11th with a 13.05 score.
In the all-around competition, Tang tied for top honors with Army’s Nathan Goff with 80.9 points. Beeman was a tick behind the first-place duo at 80.75.
After the completion of the meet, Beeman was recognized as the ECAC’s Most Improved Gymnast of the Year, while Craig Holt was given the nod as the ECAC Assistant Coach of the Year.
“Defending our conference title was a season-long goal that unfortunately we couldn't get," said Simons. "We’ll have to overcome this disappointment and turn our attention to the NCAA Championships as we live to see another day.”
With the ECAC varsity club membership number dropping to five, an automatic bid into the NCAA Championship was not on the line on Saturday. Due to their strong regular season efforts, Navy will be in line to grab one of the 12 at-large bids to the NCAA Championship. The Mids came into the day ranked 12th, 5.15 points ahead of No. 13 William & Mary. The NCAA Championships’ qualifying meet is set for Friday, April 21 in West Point, N.Y. at Army’s Christl Arena.