ECAC Men’s Gymnastics Week 2 Preview: West Point Open and tough non-conference battles

By William Gomez | January 11, 2024
Navy's Ronan McQuillan reacts after dismounting pommel horse at the 2023 Navy Open.
© Amy Sanderson/Gymnastics Now

Week 2 of the ECAC men’s gymnastics season is about to shake things up.

The West Point Open, featuring four ECAC teams and Penn State, will be the conference’s biggest matchup of the weekend. Elsewhere, Greenville travels to Columbus to take on Ohio State, and Simpson faces tough opponents in Illinois and Michigan at the Windy City Invitational.

Here’s what to look out for in Week 2.

West Point Open

The big meet of the weekend for the ECAC will be the West Point Open. Army and Penn State are looking to improve on their Week 1 performances while Springfield, William & Mary, and Navy will round out the rest of the competition. All six ECAC teams will have at least one meet under their belt after this meet, so it’ll be interesting to see how the preseason rankings line up once Week 2 is in the books.

This meet will take place at Army on Friday, January 12 at 7 p.m. ET, and the top qualifiers from each event will compete in event finals on Saturday, January 13 at 7 p.m. ET. The meet will be streamed on YouTube.

Army

Army is once again facing Penn State this weekend, with three other teams also thrown into the mix. The Black Knights had a slow start to the season last week at Rec Hall but are looking to put that behind them and show some strong, consistent routines this weekend. Key areas for improvement are their floor rotation and parallel bars dismounts. The home atmosphere should also help.

Routines to watch:

  • Franco Peirano’s floor. Peirano showed strong tumbling last week despite a couple errors. A hit set from him could go 13.5+ and be in the mix for a finals spot.
  • Noah Duran’s pommel horse. Duran had a beautiful set last weekend but wasn’t able to put it all together at the end. He’ll be looking to keep his momentum throughout the whole set for a strong score this weekend.
  • Zachary Perez’s high bar. Perez was second on high bar last week and is looking to find that landing on the dismount to try and catch Josh Karnes after coming up short against the standout.

Springfield

Coming in at No. 12 in the preseason poll, Springfield will make its 2024 debut this weekend. They showed some impressive gymnastics in their Maroon vs. Grey intrasquad and are looking to bring that same energy to their performance on Saturday.

Routines to watch:

  • Owen Carney’s high bar. Last year Carney had a season high of 13.7. His set included a stunning layout Tkatchev and a big Tkatchev to piked Tkatchev combination. He also showed a routine with a Kovacs, so it’ll be interesting to see how he constructs his routine this season to maximize his scoring potential.
  • Peyton Cramer’s pommel horse won development program nationals last May and is going to make an immediate impact in the Lions’ lineup. He has a very clean set with the potential for some big skills such as a Sohn and an E flop. He’ll surely be looking for a 14+ and a top finish this weekend. 
  • Jojo Motoki’s high bar. Motoki is the reigning men’s development program national champion on this event. He has a beautiful, clean set with a huge Tkatchev that fans should be excited to hopefully see on Friday and Saturday.

William & Mary

Coming in at No. 13 in the preseason poll, the Tribe is aiming for a strong start to the season in Friday’s meet. Several talented all-arounders have been added to their roster this season, and they should have no issue replacing routines lost from 2023.

Routines to watch:

  • Aidan Cuy’s parallel bars. Cuy had a season-high of 13.8 last year, featuring a routine with a Diamidov, Diamidov ¼ to handstand, and a sound double pike dismount to finish. Some new offseason upgrades and a hit from the grad student could certainly land him a spot in Saturday’s event finals.
  • Will Harrington’s floor. Harringston’s floor last year started with a double layout followed by a punch double front. The junior has a ton of potential on this event and could make a statement in West Point.
  • Mark Fu’s high bar. Fu has a quick and competitive set, notching a season-high of 13.2 last year against Springfield. He competes a clean Tkatchev and a full-twisting double layout dismount that is always fun to watch.

Navy

Navy is looking to stay true to that No. 1 ECAC preseason ranking, getting the chance to go up against three other strong ECAC teams this weekend. The Midshipmen lost a couple of key contributors in the offseason but are welcoming some promising first-years who are looking to make their debut this weekend and challenge Penn State for the win.

Routines to watch:

  • Syam Buradagunta’s floor. Buradagunta’s floor was jam-packed with difficulty last year, featuring a front double full to punch double front opening pass, followed by a front 2.5, and a double Arabian. He was an NCAA event qualifier on this event last season and will be one to watch all season. 
  • Isaiah Drake’s rings. Drake has a strong ring set with a career-high of 14.0. His elegant and calm straight-arm swings pair well with his strength elements, such as his back uprise to Maltese mount.
  • Ronan McQuillan’s pommel horse. McQuillan is the reigning ECAC champion on this event with a 14.45. He has great extension and single-pommel work and is capable of a big score.

Greenville @ Ohio State

Greenville could put up a fight against preseason No. 7 Ohio State. The Buckeyes opened their 2023 season with a 394.9, and Greenville is eyeing a 390+ score in its second year in the NCAA. Riding off the momentum from last weekend, when the Panthers challenged their program record, this is a team to watch. You can watch the meet on Saturday, January 13 at 12 p.m. ET on Big Ten +.

Routines to watch:

  • Logan Watterson’s vault. After sticking his Kas 1.5 last week and earning a massive 14.95 in his NCAA debut, Watterson is looking to find that landing once again to try and add a second vault title to his name.  
  • Zach Connelly’s floor. Connelly was able to find his landings last weekend, drilling his full-in and back 2.5 to take the title with a 14.1. He’ll face a tough competitor in Kameron Nelson for the title.
  • Jaxon Clapper’s parallel bars. Clapper narrowly missed a top-three finish on this event last weekend with a strong set featuring a clean Healy, Peach hand, and a Diamidov. If he finds the landing on his double pike dismount, he’s likely to push a 14.                                              

Windy City Invitational

Simpson vs. Illinois and Michigan

These teams will be traveling to Chicago to compete at the 53rd annual Windy City Invitational. Simpson had a strong showing last week against Greenville and Michigan, pushing its own program record, and the Storm will once again face a talented Michigan team, plus a competitive Illinois squad. Simpson has a ton of potential and could easily get into the 370 range for the first time in program history.                              

Routines to watch:

  • Brian Rollison’s rings. Rollison hit a great set last week, scoring a 13.65. He mounted with a back uprise to straight body planche, then lowered down to a difficult Maltese. If he improves his composure in his handstands and cleans up his double back dismount, Rollison could see a marked improvement in his score.
  • Camden Bontempo’s floor. Bontempo has impressive and very clean tumbling but couldn’t find. the landings at last week’s meet. If he can settle in and finesse some sticks, Bontempo will easily surpass the 13 mark.
  • Sterling Pariza’s vault. Pariza was visibly frustrated after over-rotating his Kas full last week. Look for a redeeming stuck landing in Chicago.