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Gymnasts Beat Arch-Rival Vermont

By J. C. Olsson

The computer tallied the scores, they double checked by calculator, hand, abacus, and even scanned for viruses but the result was undeniable -- the men’s gymnastics team didn’t come in last at the New England Championship in Vermont last Saturday. They handily defeated their longtime rivals, the University of Vermont, with a score of 174.85 to 170.7.

This was the last competition for Max Fischer ’00, ending his four year demonstration that on many events sheer strength inconspicuously supplants ability. However, this Saturday he combined the two on parallel bars (6.9) and rings (6.05), where he did more planches in two routines than most teams did in the whole meet.

Fischer will end his career one meet early due to an ill-planned trip to Cancun. His feet may be in the sand, but his heart will be with the team.

MIT started off on floor with Dave Yin ’03, who wasn’t technically on the roster but whose unbridled enthusiasm overrode such trivial technicalities. He entertained the other teams with his newly-acquired back handsprings until it was in his best interest to stop.

Benji Sterling ’03 soon took over, up to his usual habit of adding skills to his routines on the fly that neither he nor the coach thought he would do. This earned him a 6.5.

The Engineers ran head to head with Vermont until the last event, which brought it down to the wire with the four remaining gymnasts. This inspired the solo feat of the day by Luke Massery ’02, who threw the one respectable high bar dismount of the MIT team, called a “Cajones-Grandes Salto” (a double back with a full twist). Rookie Damien Engen ’03 fought past a rough start to nail another solid routine (7.95) and bring MIT further out of last place.

The last competitor was J.C. Olsson ’00, who really owed the team a good routine after his floor performance where he basically crawled around like a drunk looking for his keys in the dark. True to form, he managed to pull through and tie for third in the event with a score of 8.65.

Engen also picked up a medal for his all-around score, and the team took home a trophy for vanquishing the hosting Catamounts.

The championship competition, which attracted five teams in total, was unsurprisingly won by the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, who would have carried the meet over MIT and Vermont even without touching their final event.

But therein lies the rub, since some of the members of that indomitable force had to suck up their pride as MIT gymnasts took them on individual events.