September 29, 2022


Sports Really Satisfies

Navy Dominates Field at ECAC Championship

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – One week after surpassing the 400-point barrier for the first time in 2022, the Navy gymnastics team continued it ultra-successful run of postseason action with a dominant performance at the ECAC Championship. Taking on a field of No. 11 Army, No. 12 Springfield and No. 13 William & Mary, the eighth-ranked Mids rolled to a 14.8-point victory and a total score of 401.85 at Kaplan Arena on the campus of William & Mary on Saturday. The win was the fourth straight for Navy at the conference championship.

The final scoreboard had Navy first with 401.85 points and Springfield College second at 387.05. The host William & Mary squad was third with 385.25 points, while Army placed fourth with a score of 384.85.
Navy received contributions from across its roster as Midshipmen gymnasts won individual titles in five of the six events. Isaiah Drake (Fr., Los Angeles, Calif.) led the Midshipmen contingency atop the podium on Saturday as he finished first on the parallel bars, high bar and in the all-around competition. Seniors Dan Clark (Avon, Mass.) and Josh Williams (Cypress, Texas) and junior Connor Van Loo (Freeland, Mich.) also earned gold medals as Clark placed first on the pommel horse, while Williams was the top-scorer on the floor exercise. Van Loo’s vault garnered his first career ECAC title.
As a team, Navy scored 69.05 points on the floor exercise, 61.2 on the pommel horse, 67.95 on the rings, 70.4 on the vault, 66.3 on the parallel bars and 66.95 on the high bar.
“Navy gymnastics was on a mission today,” exclaimed head coach Kip Simons. “We struggled early, but this team refused to quit with the conference title on the line. I know we’re capable of hitting a perfect meet, 30/30. We haven’t peaked yet so I feel we’re primed for a solid performance at the NCAA Championship in two weeks. This senior class has their eye on a history making performance to close out their career.”
The Mids’ day began on the pommel horse and the team had an up-and-down performance from across its five-man lineup. Coming off a USAG Collegiate Championship effort last weekend, Clark was hitting in high gear once again on Saturday with an event-best 13.65 score. He cleared Springfield’s Colton O’Brien, who finished runner-up, by 0.55 points. Ronan McQuillan (So., Katy, Texas) tied for fifth overall with a score of 12.5. Drake gave Navy three gymnasts in the top-seven as he tied for seventh at 12.35.
The Mids responded with a crisp turn on the rings as all five of its competitors scored amongst the top-10. Williams was Navy’s highest-scorer as he posted a 14.1, that was good for second place. Alexander Brown (Sr., Lafayette, La.) was 0.35 points shy of his teammate in fourth place with a 13.75 score. The duo of Dhiren Lutchman (Sr., Beltsville, Md.) and Cash Buske (Sr., Madison, Wisc.) finished back-to-back in sixth and seventh place with respective scores of 13.45 and 13.4. Drake rounded out the high-scoring event for Navy with 13.25 points. He ranked tenth in the field of 20 gymnasts.
The vault rotation was also lucrative for the Mids as four gymnasts finished amongst the top-nine. Van Loo was the star of the event as he hit his 4.8 vault with a 9.65 execution score for a 14.55 that was tops by 0.2 points. Drake was the second Midshipmen on the podium as he scored 14.15 points to rank fourth. Williams and Syam Buradagunta (So., Westborough, Mass.) finished consecutively in eighth and ninth with 14.0 and 13.95 efforts, respectively.
Building off their earlier successes, Drake and Clark led Navy’s performance on the parallel bars. Drake earned the event crown with a career-high 14.25 score. Clark also recorded a career-best score on the parallel bars as he was awarded a 14.2 result. Clark’s previous best on the p-bars was a 13.05. Caleb Hickey (So., Carthage, N.C.) made it three Mids in the top-four as he tied Army’s Mathew Davis with a 13.8 score on Saturday.
Finding themselves in a tight battle atop the team standings, Navy added nearly four points to its lead with a lights out effort on the high bar. The Mids swept the top-four positions and finished with five of the top-seven scores. Drake and Buske led the way as they went one-two with 13.65 and 13.55 scores. The sophomore class provided Navy’s next two scores as Buradagunta and Hickey went back-to-back in third and fourth. Buradagunta netted 13.4 points, while Hickey posted a 13.35. Giovanni Gambatese (Jr., Pewaukee, Wisc.) rounded out the five-man scoring lineup with 13.0 points to rank seventh overall.
The Mids closed out the competition and clinched the victory with another significant point-swing as the team added over four points to its lead with a dominant floor exercise showing. Navy had its second straight sweep of the top-four and all five scorers finished in the top-seven. Williams was the class of the field as he garnered a season-high 14.45 points. Drake was next on the leaderboard with 14.0 points. Hickey and Van Loo tied for third place with matching 13.7 scores. Buradagunta was the fifth Navy scorer with a seventh-place result of 13.2.

In the all-around competition, Drake came in first with a cumulative total of 81.65 points. He finished 2.9 points ahead of William & Mary’s Christian Marsh, who posted a 78.75.
After the meet, Drake was recognized as the ECAC’s Rookie of the Year.
Navy will continue its run of postseason action at the NCAA Championship in Norman, Oklahoma on April 15-16.