Men’s Gymnastics: College takes national title

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March 31, 2009

1:33 AM

Trailing by one point heading into the final rotation, the no. 12 College of William and Mary men’s gymnastics team recognized that a clean performance on its final event, the vault, would clinch the Tribe its eighth USA Gymnastics Collegiate Championship in nine seasons.

Six gymnasts later, the championship was sealed. Capping off an impressive performance, the Tribe’s total of 337.15 points bettered seven other teams. Last year’s champion, the Naval Academy, finished in second place with a score of 333.75. Not a single College gymnast fell during the meet at Kaplan Arena Friday.

“I have been on the team for four years, and as a senior I think we performed at our top today,” James Prim said. “It was the best I have ever seen us come together as a team in terms of consistency.”

Head Coach Cliff Gauthier expressed similar sentiments following the victory.

“It was exciting, particularly with the home crowd,” Gauthier said. “The guys were hitting left and right. We couldn’t have done much better than this. Everybody has been hitting at a tremendously high hit percentage this season. This was the culmination.”

After a clean third rotation on high bar, the Tribe moved to pommel horse, where senior Richard Pearson wowed the crowd with an impressive routine, which allowed him to lead the College with a score of 14.45 in the event.

“It was great to see Richard come through and nail a set under pressure like that,” Gauthier said. “Pearson works pommel horse like nobody else. He is clean, precise, swings great. That is why he scores well.”

The team rallied around Pearson’s set, taking the added energy into its final two events for the victory.

Junior Derek Gygax led the Tribe all day, winning the individual all-around championship with a score of 84.15, thanks in part to an impressive high bar routine which featured a newly-added double twisting, double backflip dismount in the tuck position.

“[Gygax] put in a new dismount in the last two weeks, which is tough, particularly at the end of a routine when your hands are sweating and burning,” Gauthier said. “He nailed it.”

In the individual championships Saturday, Prim recorded an impressive performance, placing in the top six on his three events before battling through a shoulder injury to capture a gold, silver and bronze on parallel bars, pommel horse and rings respectively.

The College finished Saturday with six individual All-American honors including Gygax (fifth on vault and high bar), Pearson (first on pommel horse), Prim (first on parallel bars, second on pommel horse, third on rings), senior Jay Hilbun (second on high bar) and sophomores Andy Hunter (sixth on parallel bars) and Josh Fried (third on floor).

The Tribe travels to West Point, N.Y. this weekend to compete in the ECAC Championships.

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