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Men's Gymnastics Team Tumbles Toward Nationals

By Van N. Van
Team Member

The men's gymnastics teams recorded one of its highest scores ever, but still failed to beat the University of Massachusetts at Amherst on Feb. 5.

The Engineers scored 204.45 points to UMass's 257.55. The all-time MIT record for scoring is 209.5.

The team had hoped to break the 200 mark before the meet, and was pleased with its performance. As the meet began, though, it seemed unlikely the Engineer's would reach 200.

One of the top gymnasts, Rob Cooper '97, suffered a shoulder injury that prevented him from competing in the all-around competition. He was only able to compete in the pommel horse. Chris Ellefson '95 was recovering from two bruised heels from the previous competition and was competing with a harsh cold.

It all began on a square matted floor where the gymnasts displayed anti-Newtonian mechanics with their tumbling passes. Ellefson, despite his illness and injuries, performed a nearly flawless routine which earned him the highest score of the team, an 8.0. On the pommel horse, Cooper earned a score of 7.8.

In the still rings, the Engineers could not field a full square and took a zero for one competitor. The team compensated, though. Andy Lobban '97 lead with a score of 8.2. Scott Lazerwith '95 followed Lobban at 8.15, executing his highest-scoring double back in competition. Ellefson was at Lazerwith's heels with a 8.1.

The second half of the competition began with the vault, probably the Engineers strongest event; still they finished 2.2 points being the Minutemen. Manuel Jaime 94, the team captain, earned the highest score of 8.2 with an impeccable front handspring.

Ellefson scored 8.0. Chi Won '94 tied Ellefson with an extremely high front handspring. Brian Young '96 and Art Shectman '95 both scored a 7.95 closely behind the leaders. Geoffrey Phillippe '95 improved from his previous meet with a score of 7.4 from a 7.25.

Going into the high bar, the team needed a score of 27.45 to reach the 200 mark. Among the five scores that counted, all they needed was an average of six points per competitor. With a nearly flawless routine, Won scored a 7.2. Lobban, who opted to eliminate a risky release move from his routine but stuck a fine double tuck, trailed Won at 7.1.

Ellefson earned a score of 6.85. With these scores and two others contributed by Young and Shectman, the team ended up with 31.9 points, putting it over the 200 mark.

Despite his injuries and illness, Ellefson performed his best ever. His all-around total of 44.90 is his personal best. Cooper, who was only able to compete in the pommel horse, captured the team's highest score in that event.

With a score of 204.45, the Engineers qualified, as a team, to compete in the national gymnastics competition in Texas on April 16 and 17.