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Gymnastics Team Endures Tough Loss at West Point to End Season

By J.C. Olsson
Team Member

The men's gymnastics team spent spring break defending MIT's reputation as an unrelenting underdog. The battleground was the 1998 Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Championships hosted by the West Point Military Academy.

The teams leading the competition demonstrated a very high level of gymnastics, namely Temple University, the University of Massachusetts and Navy. The UMass Minutemen endeavored unsuccessfully to strip Temple of their title, which they renewed for their ninth consecutive year. Further on down the ladder the Engineers struggled with an incomplete roster due to injuries, and finished in last place.

Of the eleven big-name colleges represented at the competition, it was announced mid-way through that MIT had yet again claimed the academic award for highest average team GPA. Team captain Rob Spina '99 commented, "That's why we're allowed to suck."

In an effort to promote the sport, the competition was televised Friday in over 18.1 million homes through a handful of no-name sports networks. Olympic silver medalist Jair Lynch was on the scene accompanying ESPN's Lon McEachern as commentators.

After the first round of competition MIT was leading their rivals, the University of Vermont, by 60.00 points, due primarily to the efforts of James Tanabe '00 and J.C. Olsson '00. Tanabe took some chances on the floor, but the odds were with him. Unfortunately it wasn't in the cards for Rob Spina '99 in the beginning, but his later scores put the team back in contention.

Golombek vaults high

Dave Golombek '98 buzzed down the vaulting runway for one of his highest flying vaults this season and plastered his feet to the mat for a clean landing. Andy McCraith '98 wasted no time as he chugged down the runway attempting to ride his handspring straight up with a twist.

The rings competition was led by Brian Clarkson G and Max Fischer '00, as injured John Tilly '00 watched from the sideline. Jason Miller '99 threw an inspiring floor routine which managed to steal the focus of the television cameras from the other teams. Chris Resto '99 also contributed to the team score on the floor despite an inexcusable fall midway through the routine.

This event concluded the men's gymnastics season.

Looking back, the MIT men's team fought respectably through a series of setbacks this year. From the start they were down three top-notch seniors from last year, and then were faced with an uncharacteristic amount of injuries.

Just to fill up the starting line, gymnasts who were not fully recovered, like Spina, insisted on throwing together routines they felt capable of. Despite the results of this season's events, the men's gymnastics has definitely shown heart and persistence in their performance.