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Gymnastics Begins 2014 Campaign on Friday with West Point Open

Senior captain Chris Junghans

Jan. 16, 2014

The Navy gymnastics team will begin its 2014 season this weekend with a trip to New York for competition at the annual West Point Open. Starting on Friday at 7 p.m. with the team portion of the event and concluding on Saturday at 7 p.m. with the individual finals, the Mids will compete against Penn State, Temple, William & Mary, Springfield, Brockport, Arizona State and the host Black Knights of Army.

2013 Season Preview

A year after welcoming in 12 newcomers to the Navy gymnastics program, the young team will look to further their growth and consequentially its success during 2014.

"The primarily goal of this 2013-14 team is to qualify for the NCAA Championships as a unit," said Navy head coach Dr. Sho Fukushima. "Navy Gymnastics will have to be in the top 10 in the nation or to capture the conference championship to do so."

"The upperclassmen lead the team by example in gym and also in the classroom," said Fukushima. "The sophomores and freshmen, who occupy more than two-thirds of the team must improve quickly in order for the team to reach our goal."

The Mids return 16 student-athletes from the 2013 season with captain Chris Junghans, the team's lone senior, leading the way.

"After steady improvement for the last three years, Chris, our team captain, leads 2014 Navy Gymnastics to the next level" said Fukushima. "At the same time, he will be reaching near his true potential for himself."

Junghans saw action in every meet last season for the Mids. He competed in the all around competition on 12 occasions, registering six top-three finishes and a season-high score of 82.55 at Army in the annual Star Meet. The senior was one of six Mids to participate in the NCAA Qualifying Meet, where he scored an 82.3 and earned a spot in the NCAA Championships the following day. In the all around competition of the NCAA Championship, Junghans finished 12th overall with 82.0 points.



Five juniors join Junghans in completing Navy's upperclass. A trio of NCAA qualifiers in Thomas Goodell, Joshua Steves and Eric Viscardi head the group. A versatile group, all three juniors regularly competed in three or more events each meet.

"These juniors have to support the lone senior, Chris, in our effort to strive for the next level" said Fukushima. "Although they have competed in the past as specialists in a few events, they should power up themselves to compete in additional events as more matured Navy gymnasts."

Goodell participated in rings 13 times and horizontal bar 11 times, respectively in a well-rounded 2013 campaign, in which he also twice competed in the all around. His regular season efforts in both rings and the horizontal bar earned him a spot in the NCAA Qualifying Meet. In State College, Pa., Goodell scored a season-high 14.55 in the rings and a 13.00 in the horizontal bar.

Viscardi, a floor exercise, rings and vault specialist, earned a spot in the NCAA Qualifying Meet with a regular season high score of 14.75 in the vault versus William & Mary. Likewise, Steves was a vault qualifier after posting a 14.8 at the ECAC Championships in the team portion.

Fellow juniors Ian Grinaski and Alex Hoersten will add leadership and depth to the squad in 2014.

11 sophomores return to Navy's squad with a year of experience and success under their belts. Mitchell Larios and Andrew Potts highlight the large and talented class as the duo each earned spots in the NCAA Qualifying Meet last season.

"As the 2013 ECAC conference champion in vaulting, Navy's fireplug, Mitchell should exhibit the logo, "NAVY" at the 2014 NCAA Championships," said Fukushima. "His floor exercise and, possibly parallel bars should also be noticeable at our conference individual event final championships."

A participant in the parallel bars since the first meet of the year, Larios expanded his lineup to include floor exercise and vault as the season progressed. A season-high 15.2 score in the vault at the ECAC Team Championship earned him a spot atop the leaderboard that day, as well as an opportunity to qualify for the NCAA Meet.

Potts was a two-event athlete for Navy throughout the 2013 season as he specialized in the horizontal bar and pommel horse. He earned his way into the qualifying meet with a season-high 14.05 score at the USA Gymnastics Championships.

A group of five other Mids turned in strong collegiate debuts as Josh Gong, Eric Morrison, Jacob Moses, Eric Poletti and Connor Westrick were consistent scorers for Navy.

"Because of the pure number of gymnasts, the Class of 2016 is the core of this year's team," said Fukushima. "After anohter year of development, more gymnasts from this class will surface as our season progress. Along with our captain [Junghans], Westrick, Morrison and Potts lead Navy's pommel horse team. Success on this event may be the key to the distance we go in this year."

Gong and Poletti each competed in nine or more competitions in the rings discipline for the Mids. Gong registered a season-high 13.95 score versus Temple and Army, while Poletti notched his season-high of 14.15 at William & Mary. Diverse in their skills, Gong also vaulted in eight events, while Poletti posted strong scores throughout the season in the horizontal bar. The top finisher in the discipline versus Army in the Star Meet, Poletti registered his season-high (13.85) twice, at the All-Academy Meet and at William & Mary.

Morrison and Moses were regular competitors for the Mids in floor exercise. Morrison scored in nine floor exercise events with a high total of 13.85 compiled twice, at the All-Academy Meet and in the Star Meet. Likewise, Moses competed nine times in the floor exercise. He registered a season-high 14.2 score at the All-Academy Meet.

Morrison augmented his floor exercise work with 10 performances in the pommel horse where three times he scored a season-high 13.7.

Westrick was a regular dual-discipline performer with nine scores in each pommel horse and parallel bar action. His high scores for the season consisted of a 13.2 (USA Gymnastics Championships) in pommel horse and a 13.45 in the parallel bars (Army-Star Meet).

Zac Ceroli, Michael Dorsey, David Frick and Connor Gonzales round out the group of returning sophomores, who will be looking to further gain experience and add depth to the squad.

A five-man freshmen class joins the program for the 2014 season. Jonny Tang, a 2013 U.S. Junior Olympics National Champion in the horizontal bar, leads this season's group of plebes. Tang's background prior to Navy includes the 2012 Pennsylvania State All-Around title and a second place finish at the 2010 U.S. Junior Olympics in the floor exercise.

John-Charles Arion, Evan Jones, Wyatt Lapointe and Wayne Saya join Tang as first-year members of the programs.

"Usually any newcomer requires a period of time to mature as a midshipman and also as a Navy gymnast," said Fukushima. "However, Jonny Tang has to be busy in developing himself as a midshipman and at the same time, is expected to contribute heavily toward the team's success. Perhaps, others from the Class of 2017, Arion, Lapointe and Jones may surprise us."

Navy will begin its season with a trip to Army for the annual West Point Open on the weekend of Jan. 17.

The following weekend, the Mids will commence home action at Macdonough Hall with the 2014 Navy Open. Penn State, William & Mary, Temple and Springfield headline the programs that are slated to compete at the event.

Navy starts February with a trip to Houston for the All-Academy Championships. At the 2013 event, the Mids posted a season-high score of 407.3 team points in competition versus Army and Air Force.

One-on-one team action for Navy begins on February 8 when it hosts Army in the annual Star Meet. The Mids have defeated the Cadets four of the past five years in dual meets.

The following weekend, Navy will host William & Mary in the first of two dual meets between the programs. After meeting in Annapolis on Feb. 16, the two teams will face off in Williamsburg, Va. on March 2.

Back-to-back duel meets versus Temple and Springfield will close out the Mids' regular season. The Owls will come to Annapolis on March 8, while Navy will travel to Springfield on March 16.

The championship portion of Navy's season will begin March 21-22 with the USA Gymnastics Collegiate Championships. The following weekend, Navy will participate in the ECAC Championships. Both events will be hosted at Macdonough Hall.

The 2014 NCAA National Qualifying Meet will take place on April 10, with team and individual finals following on April 11 and 12, respectively. This year's NCAA Qualifying Meet and Championships will take place on the campus of the University of Michigan.

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