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Men's Gymnastics Opens Season with Two Tough Losses

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@ByName:By Van N. Van

@ByTitle:Team Member

@Body:The MIT mens gymnastics team opened the year with two terrific meets against two of the top Division II/III teams in the nation. On Jan. 12, the Engineers engaged in a dual meet against the defending national champion, Springfield College. Ten days later, they traveled north to compete against the University of Vermont. On both occasions, the Engineers showed great potential and promise.

The Springfield College tournament showcased many of MITs fine gymnasts. For the first time in many years, MIT had a full line up in a competition. The meet began with dynamite floor routines and explosive tumbling passes. Rob Cooper 97 topped off the event with a one-and-a half, punch front earning him a score of 8.5.

The pommel horse, perhaps the most difficult apparatus, took its toll on the team score. With many form breaks and a few major deductions, the team came out with a low score of 24.85.

The undaunted Engineers continued on to the still rings, where they exhibited great strength and difficulty with such moves as the iron cross and L-cross.

In the vaulting horse, Jeff Phillippe 95, a newcomer to the team, scored a 7.25 with a well-done front handspring. Brian Young 96 executed a fine front handspring which earned him the highest score of the team, an 8.15.

In the parallel bars, Scott Lazerwith 95 dazzled the audience and the judges with his one arm handstand, while Andy Lobban 97 finished the event with the highest score of 7.75.

In the final event, the high bar, the team suffered from falls and breaks, perhaps due to fatigue. Lobban took two major deductions when he fell off the apparatus twice. Luckily, there were no major injuries.

The team reaped a total score of 188.55, an extremely high score at such an early point in the season. Despite an excellent showing, the Engineers fell short of Springfields 239.9.

A week and a half later, the mens team trekked through snow and ice to the University of Vermont. Though they were fatigued from the four-and-a-half hour drive, the team remained competitive and strong.

Cooper scored a personal high in his college gymnastic career with a score of 45.15. Chris Ellefson 95 scored a 41.05 despite an injury earlier which forbade him from competing in the all-around competition at Springfield College. Ellefson was also the highest scorer in parallel bars due to an improvement in form. Manuel Jaime 94, the captain of the team, showed enormous improvement in his still rings routine scoring a 5.05 as opposed to 4.25 at Springfield. Tremendous effort was put in Art Shectman 95, Chi Won 94, Van Van 97, and other members of the mens team.

Despite the improvement and individual achievements, the Engineers suffered from the absence of one of their best gymnasts resulting in a drop in the final score to 172.35. This score, though respectfully high, was not enough to defeat Vermont who scored a 215.9.

Though they lost their first two meets of the year, the team spirit remains high as they look forward to competitions in the future. The Engineers showed great promise and room for improvement. With further training, MIT will soon be a force to reckon with on the national circuit.