By Kevin Saxe
On Sunday afternoon in Blake Arena, the Springfield College men’s gymnastics team soared to a season high team score of 386.5 which was enough to earn victories over both Temple and the University of Washington. The score was also 5.4 points higher than their previous high score of 381.1. For the Pride, it was a unique experience getting to compete against competition they don’t often see especially in the University of Washington who traveled over 2900 miles to compete.
“It’s always nice to see other competition. Gymnastics is a small sport, so we all know each other and it’s great to see a lot of these other athletes come in and show off our arena and show off our program here,” Springfield men’s gymnastics head coach Matt Davis said.
It wasn’t just a unique opportunity for the Pride, but also for Temple and Washington who since being cut by their respective schools, have competed at the club level of collegiate gymnastics.
“We love coming here. The last time I was here at Springfield was four years ago for the USAG Nationals, I couldn’t wait to come back. I was so happy when I called Matt [Davis] and he said ‘come over we have a meet’, Washington head coach Giancarlo Mora said. “It didn’t disappoint. The atmosphere was great, the guys loved it and you guys are a great host.”
Jesse Kitzen-Abelson, the Temple head coach, added, “Gymnastics is different from a lot of other sports where the intensity comes from the guys on the floor. You could hear it, there was a lot of cheering, and it was loud. It’s a nice tight gym with good intensity all the way through the last event. This is what we love, is the high energy.”
For the Pride, the day was highlighted by achieving a team high score of 386.5. While pleased with the stellar improvement that also included an 11.85 point increase in their score from last week, Davis believes this team has even more room to grow.
“Overall we had some really good performances, and also some things that we can still work on,” he said. “We’re getting better each week and that’s our goal. Now we have to get back in the gym to keep up the hard work.”
The day started with a Pride score of 66.1 on the floor, eclipsing their season average of 64.567. Springfield was led by senior all-arounder Stephen Lewis who produced a meet high 14.1 on the floor. Lewis was followed by first year Jakarie Williams with a 13.35 and junior John Murphy with a 13.2. Meanwhile Washington was led by Ben Bloom with a 13.4 and Temple was led by Taden Thruber with a 12.3.
Next up for the Pride, was their lowest score of the day with a 60 on the pommel horse. Leading the Pride was Lewis with a 12.7, junior Jack Vollo with a 12.35, and first year Luke Dineen with an even 12. The winner of the event was Washington’s Luka Sisauri. Leading the way for Temple was Thurber and Jackson Heitland who scored 11.85 and 11.8 respectively.
The first half of the meet concluded on the rings for the Pride. They would score a season high of 65. Springfield was paced by Lewis once again, this time with a 13.4. He’d be followed by sophomore Christian Wilkey Jr. with a 13.1 and first year Dominic Ramalho with a 12.95. Washington’s Ben Bloom won the event with a 13.7 and Temple was led by Evan Salters who scored an even 13.
Vault was the highest score for all teams in the event. Most impressive was the Pride which produced a meet best and season high 70.7 in what’s turned into their best event. Leading the Pride was Murphy with a 14.5, Ramalho with a 14.3 and Lewis with a 14.2. No member of the Pride scored lower than 13.8. Leading the way for Washington was Jacob Jarrett with a 13.6 and for Temple Thurber once again led the way scoring a 13.5.
“(Vault)’s one of our stronger events and it should always have been one of our stronger events this year,” Davis said. “This meet we finally started hitting what we knew our potential was and honestly we still have a little room to grow. We’re going to look to have that event anchor our team score.”
The final two events of the day were the p-bars and the high bar. On the p-bars, the Pride scored a 61.6 and were led by Ramalho with a 12.85, Lewis with a 12.35 and junior Collin Maberry with a 12.3. Winning the event was Jarrett from Washington just edging out Ramalho with a 12.9. Salters has the high score for Temple with a 12.1. Finally on the high bar, the Pride would score a meet best 63.1. The Pride were paced by Williams who had the meets high score with an even 13, followed by fellow first year Chase Galayda with a 12.9 and Lewis with a 12.5 who also finished with a season high 79.25 in the all-around. Bloom led Washington with a 12.6 and Matthew Coljohn led Temple with a 12.55.
The Pride received big performances not just from Lewis or Ramalho, who both competed in the all-around, but other standouts included Williams and Murphy.
“John Murphy’s been consistent on the vault. He’s come back strong on the floor and is starting to get those scores as well. Jakarie Williams stepped up on high bar in his first time competing the event for us and he got the high of the meet,” Davis said.
Even with the standout performances for Davis, he knows it’s about everyone on the team being ready and stepping up to contribute.
“We’re looking for a lot of contributions from a lot of athletes. I tell the team ‘we never really on that single person it’s about the team and when your name is called be ready to go’ and we saw that throughout our lineup today.”
The final team scores saw Temple finish with 352.55 despite having only ten healthy gymnasts. Washington finished with a solid 382.9 just 3.6 points back of Springfield’s 386.5.
The Pride they will take to the road next Sunday Feb 23 in Williamsburg, VA taking on William and Mary.
Photo courtesy of Joe Arruda