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Navy Gymnastics Captures Star

WEST POINT, N.Y. – With the 2023 Gymnastics Star on the line, Army and Navy battled throughout each and every one of the 60 combined routines on Saturday afternoon at the Gross Center at West Point.

Separated by just 0.1 points after the third and fourth events, the Mids used a 1.5-point swing during the parallel bars rotation to jump into the lead and hold on for the 394.05 to 393.15 victory over the Black Knights, thereby securing a Star win for the fifth straight Army-Navy competition.
The trio of Connor Van Loo, Caleb Hickey and Isaiah Drake led the Mids' individual effort as all three gymnasts placed first on events. Hickey was clutch throughout the contest as he started out with a dominant 0.55-point margin of victory on the floor exercise before closing out the meet with a runner-up result on the high bar and third-place effort on the parallel bars. Drake was Navy's second individual winner as he won the rings by 0.4 points. Van Loo showcased his senior composure and leadership as he placed first on the vault and second on the floor exercise.
"Wow! What a fierce battle down to the final routine," remarked head coach Kip Simons. "I have to give it to Army today, they came prepared and ready for a heavyweight fight. Each team delivered punch after punch and when the bell rang, Navy Men's Gymnastics was standing victorious!
"I'm so proud of our seniors to walk away with the Star on the road in a hostile environment. I'm also excited with the way our plebes continued to make major contributions to our success."
As a team, Navy scored 67.55 points on the floor exercise, 60.85 on the pommel horse, 65.75 on the rings, 70.25 on the vault, 67.15 on the parallel bars and 62.5 on the high bar.
The Mids darted out to an early 1.4-point advantage over the Black Knights with a sweep of the top-four positions on the floor exercise. Hickey was locked in throughout his routine and earned the highest execution of event with a 9.05 score to go along with his 5.1 level of difficulty for an overall score of 14.15. Van Loo was right behind Hickey in the standings with a 13.6 score. First-time Star competitors, Ian Dinmore and Danilo Viciana, tied for third place with matching 13.4 scores.
The host Black Knights moved into the lead on the next turn, the pommel horse with a pair of 14.0-point routines. Navy earned the next three spots in the standings with scores between 12.85 and 12.5. Juniors Ronan McQuillan and Syam Buradagunta finished back-to-back with respective scores of 12.85 and 12.8. Viciana placed among the top-five once again as he netted the Mids 12.5 points.
Trailing 130.1 to 128.4, Navy drew within 0.1 points with a 1.6-point swing on the rings. Drake was the class of the 10-man field with a career-best 14.0 effort. Erik Engelke was strong in support of Drake with a career-best effort of his own courtesy of a 13.6 score. Sabastian Gordon gave the Mids three gymnasts in the top-four as he tied for fourth place at 13.1.
The 0.1-point margin stayed static over the fourth event, the vault, as both teams registered 70.25 points. The top of the individual leaderboard illustrated the tight nature of the event as Navy and Army alternated places with Van Loo coming in first at 14.5 ahead of the Black Knights' Maddox Pabellon, who posted a 14.3. Team captain Giovanni Gambatese and Matthew Petros came in third and fifth respectively with scores of 14.2 and 14.0.
Down 194.25 to 194.15, the Mids bolted into the lead on the parallel bars as their depth shown through with four gymnasts in the top-five. Petros led the young lineup with a career-best 13.6. The trio of Hickey, Vishal Mandava and William Champagne all turned in identical 13.45 scores for a three-way tie for third.
Holding onto a 1.4-point advantage, Navy closed out its victory with a determined effort from its high bar lineup. The upperclass pairing of Hickey and Gambatese led the Mids as Hickey challenged for the event crown as he fell just 0.05 points shy of the Black Knights' Zachary Perez, 13.2 to 13.15. Gambatese provided 12.95 points to Navy's total as he tied Army's Noah Pace for fourth place at 12.95. Gordon finished sixth overall with 12.75 points to aid the Mids' final push. Though Army won the high bar, 63.0 to 62.5, Navy's lead was just enough to win, 394.05 to 393.15.
Coupled with victories by the rifle and the men's and women's track & field teams on Saturday, Navy re-took the lead in the 2022-23 Star Series presented by USAA as the Mids are up 8-6 in the year-long series over the Black Knights.
"We will enjoy this victory for another day and then we'll turn our attention to the preparation needed for the All-Academy Championships on February 18," said Simons in closing.