ECAC Men’s Gymnastics Week 2 Recap: Greenville breaks program record; three make season debuts

By William Gomez | January 16, 2024
Greenville's Ricky Mays during the 2023 NCAA Men's Gymnastics Championships.
© Amy Sanderson/Gymnastics Now

Greenville is working hard to climb to the top of the ECAC men’s gymnastics standings, improving week by week in an effort to catch Navy. Meanwhile, the Midshipmen claimed the highest score in the conference (394.500) in their debut.

Army had a nice showing while hosting the West Point Open, but Springfield and William & Mary showed some nerves.

Keep reading for a full recap of Week 2.

Navy, Army, Springfield, and William & Mary @ West Point Open

Final Score: Penn State: 401.300, Navy: 394.500, Army: 388.650, Springfield: 381.850, William & Mary: 359.350

Navy

Navy had a consistent start to the season, with minimal errors throughout the team portion of the West Point Open. 

The Midshipmen began the day on rings with upperclassmen Erik Engelke and Isaiah Drake closing out the rotation with a 12.9 and 13.6, respectively, and both qualifying for event finals. Vault came next with a big Kas 1.5 from Matthew Petros (14.4), who had great height and form that landed him a spot in Saturday’s event finals, where he finished third.

The Midshipmen showed high difficulty on parallel bars, keeping them in contention with Penn State, but it also led to some errors, with Vishal Mandava missing his hand on his turning Peach element and William Champagne falling on his Healy. This slightly lowered their start values, but they were able to stay composed and finish both of their routines cleanly, landing them both in the 12.0 range.

High bar was highlighted by routines from Drake and Syam Buradagunta. Drake showed a high and completely extended layout Tkatchev while Buradagunta had a massive Kovacs and a stuck double twisting double layout to qualify in third to finals with a 13.4. Drake came in clutch on Saturday and edged out Buradagunta for the title. Three strong floor sets from Benjamin Thurlow Lam, Colby Prince, and Buradagunta landed them all a spot in the event final. The trio swept the podium, and Buradagunta earned the floor title with a 13.8.

Five hits on pommel horse wrapped up Navy’s effort, leading to a 394.500 opening score. This was the highest opening score among all of the ECAC teams, solidifying their preseason No. 1 ranking.

Army

Army’s performance quality progressed tremendously from Week 1 to Week 2, with the Black Knights seeing an 18-point improvement week over week.

Being at home, they got to rotate in Olympic order and start on floor, where they struggled in Week 1. The majority of the team seemed to dial in, particularly Max Rubin, who had a very clean routine to score a 13.3 – enough to qualify for finals on Saturday. 

The momentum continued on pommel horse with a strong leadoff set from Blaze Kennedy, who earned a 13.5 and qualified for finals on Saturday where he finished fifth. Gabe Almeida had a beautiful routine of all flares but had to muscle up the dismount and repeat it for credit, still receiving a commendable 13.2. Maddox Pabellon was the highlight, qualifying for finals (13.8) and ultimately finishing in second place with a 13.3.

Rings and vault were excellent, with four stuck rings dismounts in a row and two finals qualifiers. Big vaults secured another three spots in that final. Steven Manolakis drilled his Kas full on day one and had a nice vault on Saturday (13.5) to secure second place behind teammate Franco Peirano, who took the title with a 13.9 for his own Kas full.

Several minor changes were made to Army’s parallel bar routines, eliminating some unnecessary press handstands and decreasing some difficulty to give athletes more energy for dismounts, which they struggled with last week. The changes paid off with a nearly 5-point improvement from the previous week.

High bar challenged the Black Knights, but their improvements elsewhere, especially a 70+ on vault (70.25) solidified third, ahead of Springfield and William & Mary.

Freshman Jaden Blank finished second in the all-around with a 77.500 to qualify to Winter Cup.

Springfield

Springfield showed a ton of potential in its season opener.

The Pride started the day on vault, showing big vaults and a massive Kas full (13.9) from Dominic Ramalho that looks powerful enough to add another full twist. The team scored in the 13s across the board except for rotation leader Dylan Colangelo, who put up a 14.15.

Parallel bars was highlighted by Sam Kaplan’s 13.6, and high bar was led by Felix Kriedemann’s 12.8 for a layout Tkatchev and a stuck full-twisting double layout.

Floor showed promise, with Matt Browne showing a full-twisting double layout, a double layout, and a double Arabian in his routine. He, along with others, had some trouble on landings, with a couple of falls and out of bounds throughout the rotation. Evan Reichert led with a 13.35.

Pommel horse was a bit rough, with the first four athletes up counting a fall. That didn’t phase first-year Peyton Cramer, though, who came in clutch with a huge 14.7 for his set. That qualified him to finals where he ended up taking the title, becoming only the second gymnast in Springfield history to win a title at the event.

William & Mary

The Tribe had a bit of a rough start to their 2024 campaign and finished fifth with a team score of 359.350 – a mark they surpassed at every meet last season.

Despite this, there were some bright spots, specifically from first-year Gavin Zborowski. Zborowski had a great all-around performance, where he finished sixth with a 75.55. He also managed to qualify for three event finals: floor with a 13.4, vault with a 13.95, and high bar with a 12.7. His top effort in event finals was sixth on floor (12.5).

Sam Lee also showed his strength, qualifying for the parallel bars final after a 9.0 execution and a 13.8 total. He grabbed fourth place on Saturday with a 13.0. Notably, grad student and typical all-arounder Aidan Cuy only competed on pommel horse.

Greenville @ Ohio State

Final Score: Ohio State: 395.000 – Greenville: 387.350

Greenville put up a fight against preseason No. 7 Ohio State on Saturday afternoon.

The Panthers started their meet on floor, where they excelled the week before. They were led off by Michael Avery, who set the bar with a 13.55. He had an excellent routine with controlled landings across the board to earn the floor title, besting Ohio State’s Kameron Nelson (13.4) who is known for his floor prowess. Sophomore Zach Connelly struggled throughout, taking a fall on his full-in and his Manna. The 11.75 was a sharp drop from his event-winning 14.1 in Week 1.

Greenville kept its energy up on pommel horse, where the team showed grit and was led by Koby Cantu (12.85). Landon Benas and Jacob Foster took falls on horse but came back strong on rings, with Benas sticking his double-double dismount (13.1) and Foster sticking his full-twisting double back dismount (12.7). Greenville was down by approximately 7.5 points after the third rotation but showed focus in its effort to achieve that 390 score threshold. 

They continued on to vault, where they bested Ohio State, 70.95-70.15. The Panthers had a powerful rotation that included two Kas 1.5s – one from Beau Bice (14.35) and the other from first-year Logan Watterson (14.65), who took the title for the second week in a row. The team was fired up after vault, taking advantage of some mistakes from their opponent and besting OSU again on parallel bars. For the fourth rotation in a row, first-year Benas led off for the Panthers with a stuck dismount to get them started on the right foot (13.2). They continued strong with 13+ scores across the board and a 66.25 – a more than 4 point improvement from Week 1.

With the 390 goal in mind, Greenville gave it their all on the final event, hitting all five routines, highlighted by a massive triple back dismount from Foster. The Panthers came close to the goal, finishing with a 387.350 and setting a new school record in just Week 2 of their second season. Greenville looks poised to challenged for the ECAC title later this spring.

Simpson @ Windy City Invitational

Final Score: Michigan: 405.150, Illinois: 404.450, Simpson: 361.250

For the second week in a row, Simpson faced national title contender Michigan, with the addition of Illinois at the Windy City Invitational. 

The Storm didn’t match its Week 1 performance but still showed improvement. One particular standout was CGA Gymnast of the Week Sterling Pariza, who became the program’s first-ever weekly award winner when he won the CGA honor and ECAC Gymnast of the Week last week. Pariza had a career high on vault (13.9) after a bit of an uncontrolled landing in the week prior and finished sixth on parallel bars with a 13.05 – also a career high. The Storm broke the program record on vault with a 68.15.

First-year Jake Smith also broke the school high bar record with a 13.0 for his routine featuring a big layout Tkatchev and a full-twisting double layout to close. This helped the team to their highest-ever team score on the event as well, with a 59.55.