The 2010 NCAA men’s gymnastics season has all the things needed to inspire a great sports movie: gutsy performances, potential Olympic triumphs and storied programs hanging by a thread.
The latter is the Cal Berkeley men’s gymnastics program, one of the nation’s most successful (yet, like all men’s gymnastics programs, little recognized — even at schools like Oklahoma the more mainstream sports like football get the lion’s share of glory) which is in danger of being eliminated if it and other Cal sports like baseball, men’s rugby and women’s lacrosse don’t come up with $25 million to save their programs.
So the backs of the Cal gymnasts are up against the wall. But in their first week of competition, they came out looking like winners, beating 2009 NCAA champion Stanford 349.65-348.7 on Jan. 14. It would be a great story if Cal, on the brink of elimination, wins an NCAA title. Not to mention that there’s nothing like a national championship trophy to make athletic directors reconsider decisions.
In one sense, Berkeley is lucky. The San Francisco Giants have just won the World Series and are riding higher than they have, well, since the last time the Giants won a World Series (which was 1954). They may step in to aid the baseball team, and consequently Cal’s other sports (according to Calgymnasticsforever.com, the athletic department has said that it will re-instate all five programs for $25 million. The men’s gymnastics team is aiming to raise pledges totalling $1 million by February 1).
Here’s what happened in men’s NCAA gymnastics last weekend:
Stanford vs. Cal @ Stanford: Cal junior Glen Ishino, who was kept from reaching his maximum potential last season due to injuries, shone in the season-opener for both teams, winning the all-around with 90.3 points (that’s an average of 15.05 per event). Ishino also won pommel horse (14.75), parallel bars (15.55) and high bar (a very high 15.9). Cal sophomore Steven Lacombe won vault (15.85), Stanford’s Tim Gentry rings (15.4) and the Cardinal’s Josh Dixon floor (15.0).
Even though Stanford got beaten at home, they were without some of their best, including floor/vault expert Eddie Penev. Expect more from them this weekend as they host Cal again for the creatively named Big Flipoff. (Cal Golden Bears)
Illinois vs. Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio State, Iowa and Illinois-Chicago @ UIC (Windy City Invitational): The University of Illinois-Champaign dominated this in-state meet, outscoring runner-up Michigan (the defending national champions, to boot) by more than 10 points, 355.4-346.1. Minnesota (340.7), Ohio State (339.8), Iowa (332.8) and UIC (327.3) came behind the leaders. (Fighting Illini)
Illinois senior Paul Ruggeri got his 2011 off to a strong start, winning the all-around with an 88.9 and claiming the top spot on high bar as well (15.8). Chad Wiest, a redshirt senior on the Illinois team, won floor (16.0) and vault (15.9, career high). Junior C.J. Padera was the best on parallel bars (15.2). Ohio State mopped up the rest of the event titles: Ty Echard on pommel horse (15.4), Jeff Treleaven on vault (15.9, tied with Wiest) and 2010 World team member Brandon Wynn on rings (15.8). (Ohio State Bulldogs)
U.S. Olympic Training Center, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Arizona State and Air Force @ Air Force (Rocky Mountain Open): Ever wonder how the guys who compete for one of the best NCAA programs in the country would do against the guys who forgo college in favor of chasing the Olympic dream at the official training center for those chasing Olympic dreams? The answer (for this year, at least) is the USOTC, which tallied 350.750 to OU’s 346.500 but was ineligible to actually win the meet. Nebraska (334.500) finished third, followed by Air Force (327.300) and Arizona State (311.600).
OU sophomore Jake Dalton, who vaulted for the U.S. at the 2009 World Championships, won the all-around (88.5) and floor (15.7). Senior Steven Legendre, who will be going for Oklahoma’s all-time NCAA titles mark later this year, was the best on vault (16.4).
Elsewhere, Air Force’s James Okamoto won pommel horse (14.3), the USOTC’s C.J. Maestas rings (15.1) and the USOTC’s Andrew Elkind parallel bars (15.2). OTC’s Joseph Hagerty, a member of the bronze medal winning 2008 U.S. men’s team, was the best on high bar (15.4). (Nebraska Cornhuskers)
Penn State vs. Temple, Army, Navy, Springfield and Brockport @ Army (West Point Open): It might have been like deja-vu — some of the best in the country returned to the site of the 2010 NCAA men’s championships to start the 2011 season. Penn State came out on top in this two-day meet, which featured a men’s team final and event finals the next day. On night one, the Nittany Lions posted 348.4 to take first, followed by Temple (329.7), Army (320), Navy (319.6), Springfield (319.4) and Brockport (263.6).
Penn Staters grabbed half of the titles in the individual round as well: Senior Matt Albrecht won high bar (14.55), while sophomores Mackenzie Dow and Scott Rosenthal won parallel bars (13.8) and rings (14.4), respectively. Navy’s Dylan Parrott won floor (14.45), Andrew Faulk vault (15.55) and Army’s Jon Hoey pommel horse (13.5). (Penn State Nittany Lions)
Related: To make a donation to Cal Men’s Gymnastics and help the team get to $1 million by Feb. 1, please click here.
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