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Navy Claims Gymnastics Star In Comeback Win

WEST POINT, N.Y. – Faced with 3.65-point deficit and just two events left, the parallel bars and high bar, the Navy gymnastics team put its head down and earned a dramatic 0.55-point come-from-behind victory over the Army Black Knights in the 2019 Star Meet. Performing in front of a hostile crowd at Army's Gross Center, the Mids were able to out-point the Black Knights by 2.55 points on the parallel bars before completely the comeback with a 1.65-point edge on the high bar to win 401.1 to 400.55. The win was Navy's first at West Point since 2011.
"When you have a solid plan with solid buy-in and then execute that that plan like a veteran, great things happen," exclaimed head coach Kip Simons. "I told the team that it would be a monumental task to win at Army. History doesn't lie. Our guys never wavered from their commitment to the task at hand and to their brother standing alongside them. 
"We made some mistakes early on, but fought and clawed back from a late three-point deficit. No one was going to deny these 22 guys from bringing home the Star!"
Trailing 270.15 to 266.5 after four events, the Mids' parallel bar unit was the story of Saturday as it posted a score of 67.7 that was 4.7 points higher than its season average and 3.8 points better than its previous season-best. After Army's Cole Casanova posted a first-place score of 13.85, Navy gymnasts occupied the next five positions. Ryan Orce (Jr., Gainesville, Fla.) was the leader of the Mids' p-bar corps as he recorded a score of 13.7. Sophomore Max Gerber (Dix Hills, N.Y.) came in third place 0.1 points back at 13.6. His classmate Ryan McVay(So., Roseville, Calif.) was nearly as proficient with a 13.5 score. The duo of Travis Keller (So., Centreville, Va.) and Ben Provost (Jr., South Hadley, Mass.) rounded out the Mids' high-scoring unit with matching 13.45 scores. Army finished with 65.15 points on the parallel bars
Now down by just 1.1 points and one event left, the high bar, Navy posted four of the top-five scores once again. Freshman Cash Buske (Madison, Wisc.) led the way for the Mids as the plebe had ice water in his veins and nailed a 13.6-point routine. Gerber backed up his strong p-bar performance with a second-place result on the high bar with a 13.5. Provost helped Navy sweep the top-three spots with a 13.4-point score. After Army's top high bar score, a 13.4 by Rex Scott, Orce was fourth overall as he earned the Mids 13.35 points. Navy's fifth scoring effort on the apparatus came from McVay, who scored 13.05 points. The Mids finished with 66.9 points versus 65.25 points for the host Black Knights.
Prior to this dramatic comeback, Navy saw Army win each of the first four events, the floor exercise (67.35-66.95), the pommel horse (65.1-63.3), the rings (67.3-66.6) and the vault (70.4-69.65).
The day's first event, the floor exercise, was ultra-competitive between the two teams as Army had the high score with a 14.0-point Mathew Davis score before Navy countered with David Toussaint (So., Warren, Ohio), Lucas Beltran (Jr., Corpus Christi, Texas) and Frank Bradley (Jr., McLean, Va.), who came in back-to-back-to-back with respective scores of 13.7, 13.65 and 13.6. The rest of the Black Knights' scoring lineup occupied places five through eight to help them earn the 0.40-point advantage.
A season-high 65.1-point effort by Army's pommel horse team bolstered its early lead on the second rotation. McVay was the Mids' top scorer on Saturday as he posted a 13.5-point result, that was good for second overall behind the Black Knights' Matt Martin's 13.6. Jake Carlson (So., Lakeville, Mass.) gave Navy two gymnasts in the top-five as his 12.7 was fifth-best. Orce was the Mids' third counter on the pommel horse with a 12.5-point score that placed him seventh.
Army made it two season-bests in consecutive events as the Black Knights used their familiarity on the Gross Center rings to net a 2019-high of 67.3 points. Navy's team captain Christian Correale (Sr., Harrisburg, Pa.) left his mark on the rings as he came up just 0.1 points shy of the event win with a 13.6-point score that placed him in a three-way tie for second. Nehemiah Baker (Fr., Oak Ridge, N.C.), a Star Meet rookie, came out with a veteran-type of performance at 13.55 to rank fifth overall. Orce made it three Mids in the top-seven with a 13.25-point effort.
The string of season-high scores continued for the Black Knights on the vault as they bested their season average of 68.73 and season-best of 69.6 with a 70.4 on Saturday. Baker improved on his fifth-place ranking with the second-best vault score at the meet with a 14.4. After a quartet of Army vaulters took spots three through six, Keller stopped the run with a 13.85-point vault.   
The accumulation of these four events gave Army a 3.65-point advantage and set the scene for Navy's dramatic comeback.
The Mids' Star win at West Point was its first since 2011. The teams had alternated victories in the previous seven Star meets. Navy has now won three of a potential four stars under the direction of Simons.
"We'll enjoy this for now," said Simons. "It'll be back to work on Monday in preparation to bring home the All-Academy Championship for the first time in 10 years."
With four Star competitions on Saturday, rifle, men's and women's indoor track & field, and gymnastics, the 2018-19 Star Series presented by USAA stands at 7-7 through 14 events as Army and Navy split the day, 2-2.
Navy will continue action versus service academy rivals as one week from today the Mids will host Air Force and Army in the 2019 All-Academy Championship meet. The competition between the three teams starts at 1 p.m. at Macdonough Hall.