Last season, William and Mary began its 2010 campaign with a rash of injuries and disappointing results.
The squad started very slowly, but as the months wore on and the frigid winter temperatures began to give way to the warm spring air of March, the College saw its health improve, and with it brought yet another successful finish, including a second place finish at the USAG Collegiate Championships.
Saturday, the College’s 2011 season began much like last season, with a disappointing initial meet, but with the promise of good things to come. The Tribe combined for 315.1 team points, securing a third-place finish in a five-team field at the Navy Open which was held in Macdonough Hall on the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.
“The first meet of the season always has jitters, first meet of the season,” senior Andy Hunter said. “We were disappointed, we are not trying to finish third. We had a good workout the week before, so it was disappointing to see us under perform at the meet, but with that said we have a lot of potential and lots of room to improve.”
No. 11 Temple won the season opener with 327.3 team points, and the No. 14 Midshipmen claimed second place with a final score of 324.3. Springfield finished in fourth place with 309.05 total points, and Brockport rounded out the top five with 263.4 points.
The Tribe was led by Hunter, who returns in his second season as a captain. Hunter showed veteran presence by leading the College in the floor exercise with a score of 13.8, and with a solid 12.9 performance on the high bar. Hunter placed sixth overall in both events.
While Hunter excelled in the floor exercise and on the high bar, the Tribe’s top scores on the parallel bars and pommel horse were provided by a pair of sophomores. Sophomores Kris Yeager led the way with a 13.1 on the pommel horse while Vince Smurro dominated the parallel bars with a 13.4 score.
While the Tribe will certainly find some areas in need of improvement following its third-place finish in Annapolis, the squad can also take solace in the development of some of its younger role players.
Freshman all-arounder Daniel Potemski put in an inspiring debut performance, leading some to believe that he could help fill the void left by perennial All-American all-arounder Derek Gygax ’10. Potemski led finished with a six event total of 76.5, which led all Tribe athletes and helped him secure an eighth-place individual finish.
In addition, freshman Landon Funiciello also shined in his first event for the College. Funiciello garnered the Tribe’s top scores on both the rings and the vault, with 13.9 and 14.5 marks respectively. His score on the rings was the third highest overall in the meet.
“[Potemski and Funiciello] are going to be big contributors this year, especially in the vault, that’s one of our weaker events, and they should be two of our top contributors,” Hunter said.
Overall, as the College begins preparations for its next event, the State Open on Feb. 12 at Kaplan Arena, the squad hopes to continue to improve and make enough progress to make yet another late season run at greatness.
“Any time that you don’t do well like this, its easy to blow it off as a fluke, I would rather us really reflect on it, and let it hurt a little bit and let it motivate us,” Hunter said. “We have three weeks until our next meet at home and that should give us time to get our act together and start hitting our routines.”