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Men's Gymnastics Team Begins Season with Three Tough Losses

By J.C. Olsson
Team Member

The men's gymnastics season began with three intense competitions. The first was a home meet against Southern Connecticut State University on Jan. 17, where the Engineers placed a strong second.

A week later, MIT went up against Springfield College and the U.S. Naval Academy, where it laid claim to the bronze. The following week the Engineers valiantly faced both the University of Massachusetts, Boston Minutemen and the University of Vermont Catamounts, landing firmly in third after the chalk had settled.

Although MIT has yet to defeat its opponents, their efforts have brought them 17 personal high scores.

The team lost three powerful seniors at the end of last year: Rob Cooper '97 and Andy Lobban '97, two strong all-arounders, and Van C. Van '97, the dancer with a flair for high tumbling. The team struggled to offset those losses with the return of co-captain Rob Spina '99 and a cleaner starting line. Spina, recovering from shoulder surgery last season, is sacrificing his body for the sport of gymnastics.

The floor lineup boasts Dave Golombek '98 and Chris Resto '99. Golombek, known for his dancing at East Campus parties, increased his all-time high score to a 7.25 by adding more difficult twisting flips. Resto has also reached a new personal best of 6.85 through more consistent tumbling and nifty strength combinations.

Floor, pommel horse, vault and parallel bars are four events where newcomer James Tanabe '00 competes. Tanabe has set and broken three of his top scores already.

Andy McCraith '98 continues to support the team with his pommel and vault sets. Using his height as an advantage, he helps the team on these, their two weakest events, especially with his 8.0 vault high. Alex Sindt '99 had little time to pose as he barreled down the vaulting runway last Saturday, his first competition this year.

The trio of Max Fischer '00, John Tilly '00 and Brian Clarkson '97 support the team through their brute strength routines on rings. All three set new personal records of 6.75, 6.05 and 6.3 Fischer and Tilly vie against each other on parallel bars as well, a swing event they've also managed to convert to a muscle match.

"Oh my god, they've killed Kenny," is a phrase constantly heard throughout training as physics major Ken Esler '99 finds ways to defy the laws of gravity. A veteran all-arounder, Esler's bad wrists have temporarily taken him off pommel horse, but didn't stop him from raising his personal bests on floor (6.9) and vault (7.55).

Finally, the two all-arounders, co-captain Jason Miller '99 and J.C. Olsson '00, continue to improve their personal bests. Olsson's shin injuries have relieved him temporarily of floor and vault duties, leaving Miller as the pillar of support. Both of them hit solid parallel bar routines and broke their individual records of 8.15 for Miller and 8.7 for Olsson.

The team faces off yet again against Vermont tomorrow.