In an event that supports New England club gymnastics’ teams, the Springfield College men’s gymnastics team hosted the New England Invitational Championships this past Sunday at Blake Arena.
The meet, which consisted of club teams from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Brockport State College, University of Vermont and Boston University, is hosted every year by head coach Stephen Posner and Springfield College athletics.
“The purpose of the meet is to try and encourage other collegiate men’s programs that are unfortunately clubs,” said Posner. “There are a lot of teams that participate annually and we are hoping that they become collegiate programs. There are plenty of men that participate in gymnastics and many of them would prefer a team over a club.”
Despite facing club teams, Springfied still received an impressive performance from sophomore Jon Zirna, who helped pace the Pride to a first-place finish. Springfield, who registered 402.350 points, outlasted all five opponents to find themselves at the top of the podium come day’s end.
Zirna placed first in the all-around competition, finishing the day with 79.450 points and two first-place finishes in the pommel horse and the parallel bars. William White of MIT placed second with a 73.900, while Brockport’s Ron Ayello finished with a 72.950 and Vermont’s Brian Varga with a 72.900.
“I do the invitational and the athletics’ office supports it to encourage collegiate participation,” added Posner. “The guys enjoy the meet. The intensity is a little bit looser. All those programs used to have teams and we hope that they return to teams. It is good they still have programs and it gives the athletes a chance to compete.”
On the Pommel Horse, Zirna scored an impressive 14.700, while senior James Hennin finished with a score of 14.200 and William Chin finished the event with a 13.800.
As for the parallel bars, Zirna put up a 14.350 to take first, while Garrett DeSantis tallied a 14.250 and sophomore Derek Taranto finished the event with a 13.750.
Junior Sam Docherty placed first overall on the floor routine, scoring a 13.750. Right behind Docherty was both Tucker McClure and Brian Cogan, both with a finishing score of 13.650.
On the rings, senior captain Pat Hanley took first, scoring a 13.800, while reigning ECAC Men’s Gymnastics Specialist of the Week Ryan Ponce placed second with a 13.300. Hennin and junior Ian Stratton tied for third place, finishing with a score of 13.050.
As for the vault, Desmond Carr of Springfield College’s “B” team finished atop the leaderboard with a 14.700. DeSantis finished second with a 14.00, while Stratton and McClure finished in third- and fourth-place with 13.300 and 13.200 respectively.
Lastly, on the high bars, McClure finished first overall with a score of 13.250, while Taranto took second with a 13.050 and Cogan took third with a 12.600.
Up next for Springfield, Zirna, Ponce and the rest of the Pride will take to West Point, N.Y. on Sunday, March 2 to take on the Army Black Knights only to return home on March 15 to host Navy. Both meets start at 1 p.m.