Following a second-place finish in last week’s USA Gymnastics Competition, William and Mary aimed to wrap up an automatic berth in the NCAA Championship by holding strong at home.
Despite posting one of its most impressive performances of the season at the ECAC Championship this past weekend at Kaplan Arena, the Tribe’s team score of 339.35 was only good enough for third place. Chicago-Illinois won the event with a team score of 343.45, while Temple finished second.
“In terms of the overall meet, I was really pleased with it, because we hit around 80 percent of our routines, both in the team finals and in the individual finals,” Head Coach Cliff Gauthier said. “That’s good for us this season, that’s about as well as we have done all season, so I was pretty psyched about that … The two teams that beat us out looked like they both qualified for the NCAA Championship, and we are now either the first or second alternate, depending on where we finish in relation to Air Force.”
Once again, senior Derek Gygax led the way for the Tribe in Friday’s team competition, garnering All-East honors with a second-place finish in the all-around with a score of 85.2. His strong Friday scores qualified him for several events in Saturday’s individual finals, where he earned a silver medal on the pommel horse with a score of 14.35.
Junior Andy Hunter also earned two All-East designations Saturday. His score of 13.95 captured a third-place finish on the pommel horse.
Hunter also finished with a silver medal on the rings and freshman Vince Smurro won All-East honors with a third-place finish on the parallel bars.
Although the College did not secure a berth in next month’s NCAA Championship, several Tribe athletes may have locked down individual qualifications thanks to their performances in Saturday’s individual finals. The NCAA will announce the additional individual qualifiers Tuesday.
As for the team as a whole, the Tribe believes the team’s finish was a positive outing that allowed the squad to showcase its resilience.
“We were ranked third going into the ECACs, and we started the year off kind of slow,” Hunter said. “We had a few guys banged up coming off of injuries. If you look at how we did at the beginning of the year to how we did in these last few meets, we have come a long way, and that’s always exciting to see.”
With the ECACs marking the end of the College’s team season, Gauthier has already started looking towards next year, when he will be without his senior standout Gygax.
“I’m always optimistic,” Gauthier said. “We rarely take any steps back in the program, and we always keep just getting better and a little bit better; and that’s what I am hoping will happen next year. We have to have some freshmen that can come in and do well for us, and hopefully that rising senior class will be stepping up and getting healthier and get to work out a whole year, instead of being rushed into competing.”