William and Mary suffered a bittersweet defeat Saturday, raking in their season high score, but ultimately losing to No. 13 University of Illinois-Chicago by just seven-tenths of a point, dropping the College’s record to 5-5-1.
The Tribe took the lead early in the meet during the floor exercise event, scoring a team total of 57.50. Sophomore Vince Smurro placed first in the event with a score of 14.7, while freshman Daniel Potemski brought in a mark of 14.5 for third place. This effort gave the Tribe a slight early lead.
The Flames came back on the pommel horse though, scoring a total of 56.7 to top the Tribe’s mark of 54.3. Although the Flames took the top four scores in the event, sophomore Kris Yeager kept the Tribe in the competition, tying for fifth with a score of 13.9.
Still, the Tribe beat Illinois-Chicago on the rings competition — a strong event all year for the College — scoring 55.6, almost two whole points better than the Flames’ 53.7. Taking the gold in rings for the Tribe was promising freshman Lance Funiciello, who finished the event with a mark of 14.9.
“Rings have been pretty strong most of the season,” head coach Cliff Gauthier said. “This has kind of carried us a little bit.”
After rings, the two teams were tied with scores of 167.4 respectively, and the vault portion of the meet kept the competition extremely close. The Tribe snuck by the Flames three-tenths of a point with a score of 61.60, putting the College squarely in the lead. Funiciello and Potemski scored marks of 15.7 and 15.6, respectively, coming in second and third place in the event.
However, Illinois-Chicago took the meet in the parallel and high bar competitions. The Flames beat the Tribe’s score of 56.3 in parallel, taking the top two spots and leaving Smurro in third place with a mark of 14.3. In high bar, the Tribe ended with a mark of 55.30, barely edged out by the Flames, with 55.50. Smurro again placed in the top, tying for first with a score of 14.3.
All told, the Flames beat out the Tribe by a score of 341.3 to 340.6.
This weekend the Tribe will travel to Springfield, Mass., to compete in the USA Gymnastics Collegiate Championship.
The team has shown improvement in its scores recently, and this gives Gauthier hope for the future.
“We’re getting more and more to the crunch time, so this development is critical,” he said.