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Men's Gymnastics Third in Region, Eighth in ECAC

By Raymond Li
Team member

The men's gymnastics team ended one of their best seasons ever last week. Like most sports, they wrapped up their season with their toughest meets. On March 2, the team competed in the New England championships. On March 6, they took on the Naval Academy. The gymnasts ended their season March 9 at the East Coast Athletic Conference championships. Despite three tough meets on the same week, the Engineers pulled out very well.

At the New England championships, held at UMass-Amherst, MIT placed third in New England, with a score of 182.60. The athletes all gave stunning performances, but what pleased Coach Fran Molesso the most was not their gymnastic performances but their sportsmanship and teamwork.

"We had a total team there. They performed above and beyond anything expected of them. When one guy fell, the others picked up for him. I am very pleased with their performance," said Coach Molesso.

Last Wednesday, the team went up against the U.S. Naval Academy, a Division I school, in their final home meet of the season. The Engineers tried their best and did beautifully with solid 30's in all events. Still, the Midshipmen were able to surpass the Engineers' score and win the meet. Despite the loss, the team's performances were strong throughout the meet. The final score was Navy 217.75, MIT 181.

In their final meet of the season, MIT competed in the ECAC championships, held at Springfield College. After a year of intensive training, and a very long and exhausting week, this was the moment to perform at their very best. Some team members performed very difficult tricks that they had never used in their routines, and many set new personal bests. But they were under no pressure from the coach, who only wanted the athletes to do their best, be safe, and most importantly, enjoy themselves.

With great excitement and enthusiasm, the athletes began their first event, the floor exercises. The team gave one of their best floor performances of the year. Everyone's tumbling was clean, and they all stuck their landings. Some new tricks in the performances increased the overall difficulty of the routines, thus increasing scores. Jason Miller '99, Rob Spina '99, and Rob Cooper '97 all scored high 8s, and Van Van '97 scored a 6.9 to give MIT a team score of 32.6 for the floor. Dave Golombek '98 and Brian Young '96 also contributed significantly to MIT's score. Golombek and Miller set personal best records; Miller's score was fourth among MIT's all-time top scores on floor.

MIT moved on to one of the most difficult events, the pommel horse. Andy McCraith '98 started the team off with a personal best. Van performed next and also set a personal record. Co-captain Andy Lobban '97 gave a clean performance. Lobban's routines, along with 8s from Miller, Cooper, and Spina, brought MIT a 29.25 on the pommel horse. Miller and Spina also set personal bests, with two of MIT's top ten all-time scores in the event.

On the still rings, the team did beautiful swings, crosses, and numerous other tricks. With Eric Cosman '99, Spina, Miller, Cooper, and Lobban performing in the event, the team scored a high 29.65. The team moved on to one of their stronger events, the vault. Cooper and Miller each scored an 8.4, Spina and McCraith both scored 8.2, and Young had a 7.75, giving the team a score of 33.2 for the event.

The fifth event was the parallel bars. Despite being hungry and tired at the end of a long day, the athletes were still focused, and were able to pull off three more personal bests by Cosman, Van, and Lobban. The team scored high 7s and 8s for a team total of 30.9. MIT 's final score was 185.35, placing them eighth in the conference.

The men's gymnastics team is losing two very strong gymnasts and important team members - Bernd Schoner G and Brian Young - to graduation. The team would like to take this opportunity to wish them the best.