Jan. 19, 2012
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -
The Navy gymnastics team will open the 2012 season this Saturday when it hosts the Navy Open at 2 p.m. at Macdonough Hall. Temple, Springfield, William & Mary, SUNY Brockport and several local club teams will join the Mids at the event.
2012 Gymnastics Season Outlook
Despite a small squad that suffered several injuries last season, the Navy gymnastics team exemplified a true fighting spirit as it sent two gymnasts to the NCAA Championships and defeated Army for the third consecutive time. With a sizeable and talented freshman class and five returning letterwinners with ample experience, the Mids are eager to begin the 2012 season.
The success, as well as the adversity, the Mids faced a season ago will only make them stronger in 2012.
"We were restricted with an unusually small squad (eight) to begin with last season," said Navy head coach Dr. Sho Fukushima. "We were also confronted with several critical injuries, especially at the end of the season. By the start of the ECAC Championship in April, we had just six gymnasts competing due to injury. But, we believed in ourselves and trusted in our fellow shipmates and strived for the perfect performance within our capabilities."
As a result, three Mids - Andrew Faulk, Chris Junghans and the now graduated Dylan Parrott - were selected to compete in the NCAA Qualifying meet. Both Faulk and Parrott both advanced to the NCAA Championships.
This season, Faulk returns as the Mids' most experienced and talented gymnast. The seven-time ECAC medalist, who overcame a significant injury as a freshman, placed 18th in the all-around at last year's NCAA Championships.
"Andrew is not a typical administrative leader, but he is the most decorated workhorse who has competed in the NCAA Qualifying Meet the last three years," said Fukushima. "With his past experience and his leadership style - lead by example - perhaps he will take the entire team to the NCAA meet with him this season."
The San Antonio, Texas native placed first in the all-around in five meets last season and was named the USAG Collegiate Division National Gymnast of the Week on three occasions.
Faulk, the team captain, will be joined by fellow seniors Aaron Ingram and Brandon Tinkham, giving the team three Mids with significant experience.
Last season, both appeared in all nine meets and figure to contribute in even greater roles this season.
"Aaron and Brandon completely support the team objective for the 2012 season," said Fukushima. "While they may not be decorated like Andrew, they contribute by leading in their own ways and will definitely be noticed in three or four events this season."
The team's lone junior, Austin Zalik, competed in all nine meets as well last season. His best finish came in the rings against Temple where he was the top finishing Mid, tying his career-high score of 13.9.
"Austin is an especially solid performer on rings and some of the other five events," said Fukushima. "His contribution in this event is going to be great. He will also compete in the floor exercise and vault."
Navy's injuries and thin lineup last season allowed two freshmen - Nate Gessner and Chris Junghans - all to contribute considerably. As sophomores, the two Mids will call upon their experience last season to help them improve their roles this winter.
"Nate and Chris are still in the work-in-progress stage, although they are potentially going to surprise others," said Fukushima.
Gessner competed on the vault in five meets last season and should also contribute on the pommel horse in 2012.
Navy's sizeable freshman class includes eight Midshipmen, all of which will have the opportunity to contribute. The class includes Caleb Achor, Trevor Carson, Thomas Goodell, Ian Grinaski, Alex Hoersten, Jeff Sauers, Joshua Steves and Eric Viscardi.
The Mids will begin the season with the Navy Open on Jan. 21 at Macdonough Hall, which will include three other teams in William & Mary, Temple, Springfield and SUNY Brockport.
Navy will see Army in three consecutive competitions, as it will travel north to the West Point Open on Jan. 27-28. Two weekends later, Navy will look for its fourth straight Star as it hosts Army in the annual dual on Feb. 11.
The 2012 All-Academy Championships, which include the three service academies, will take place on Feb. 18 in San Jose, Calif.
Navy will host the first of home-and-home duals with William & Mary on Feb. 26. The Mids will then make the return trip to Williamsburg, Va., to meet the Tribe on March 4.
The Mids will host their final dual of the season on March 10 when they take on Temple.
Navy's championship stretch will begin on March 30 with the USAG Collegiate Division Championships. The two-day meet will take place in Colorado Springs, Colo.
The ECAC Championships follow the next weekend on April 6-7 in Philadelphia, Pa.
The 2012 NCAA Championships will take place in Norman, Okla., beginning with the qualifying meet on April 19. The team and all-around finals will take place on April 20, with the individual event finals on April 21.