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Men's gym qualifies for Division II-III Nationals

By Eric M. Reifschneider

The MIT men's gymnastics team placed fourth in the New England Championships Sunday at Springfield. MIT's team score of 192.2 was probably high enough to qualify them for the nationals.

The University of Massachusetts at Amherst won the meet with a score of 262.4, followed by Southern Connecticut at 258.95 and Springfield College at 258.05. MIT, with a team score of 192.2, edged out the University of Vermont (191.6) for fourth place by 0.6 points, marking the fourth time this year the Engineers have outscored their closest rivals.

MIT's senior tri-captains Eric Reifschneider, Mark Malonson, and Alan Nash had the best New England Championships of their careers. Reifschneider led the Engineers with an all-around score of 42.6.

Reifschneider's high tumbling earned a score of 7.45 in the floor exercise, and he swung his whole pommel horse routine with no breaks for a 6.95. He also hit his parallel bar routine, which included consecutive back stutzes, a stutz to a reverse straddle cut, and a full-twisting back flip dismount, to score 7.4.

Malonson and Nash had all-around scores of 40.85 and 40.45, respectively. Each excelled on his best events.

Malonson executed several impressive tumbling combinations in the floor exercise to score 8.45. On the rings he held an iron cross and stuck a double back flip dismount from a handstand for a 7.75.

Nash did a full-twisting stutz and two reverse straddle cuts to score 7.9 on the parallel bars. He scored 7.65 in the floor exercise with a mixture of clean tumbling and stylish corner moves.

Several other Engineers turned in their best performances of the season. Joe Fugaro '91 scored 6.35 in the floor exercise, a season-high 5.3 on the rings, and a season-high 8.1 on the vault. Reginald Abel '92 scored 6.75 in the floor exercise and a season-high 5.05 on the rings, and did a handspring front flip vault for the first time in competition.

Antonio Hernandez '91 earned a season-high score of 6.1 on the rings, nailed a back flip dismount to score 5.8 on the parallel bars, and did his first flyaway dismount from the high bar. Tim Holt '90 also scored 5.8 on the parallel bars with a half-twisting back flip dismount. Mark Abinante '89 hit his high bar routine to score 5.45.

Coach Fran Molesso has again led the Engineers to exceed pre-season expectations. Despite losing two key members of last year's team and gaining only one experienced gymnast (Abel), the team again averaged over 190.

All returning members of the team bettered their scores from last year, and the first-year competitors -- Abel, Jeff Anderson '90, Reggie Parker '92, Dave Gessel '89, and Mike Kim '90 -- improved during the course of the season.

MIT will probably qualify for the Division II-III National Championships for only the second time in school history (last year was the first). The top six Division II or Division III teams, based on the each team's average of its highest home score and its two highest road scores, qualify for the meet. MIT is currently ranked fifth with a season average of 196.55.

Reifschneider, Malonson, and Nash will qualify for the meet as individuals if their all-around averages (43.52, 42.02, and 42.02) are among the top 18 in the country. This year's National Championships will be held April 8 at San Luis Obispo, CA.

(Editor's note: Eric M. Reifschneider '89 is a tri-captain of the men's gymnastics team.)