Jan. 18, 2014
WEST POINT, N.Y. -
Army's gymnastics team was dominant in closing out competition at the 2014 West Point Open Saturday evening at Christl Area with four Black Knights finishing among the top three en route to collecting six medals.
Junior Connor Venrick set the pace capturing the pommel horse title after improving upon his third-place showing in Friday's team finals. Sophomore Jesse Glenn (14.9) and freshman Sam Kusnitz (14.3) finished second and third, respectively, on high bar, and freshman Joe Pritts, a last minute addition on floor exercise, tied for third-place honors (14.2).
Kusnitz, who was also sixth on floor exercise (14.0), was the lone Black Knight to pick up a pair of medals (top six in each event), with senior Kip Webber rounding out Army's place winners finishing sixth on vault (14.2).
Venrick tied his career mark on pommel horse of 14.6 he set in Friday's performance as Army won this individual event for the second straight year and third time in the last four years. Venrick, the lone competitor to score in the 14-point range in besting the field, is the fourth Black Knight to take home the title.
"I felt more nervous today because I was third in the rotation and had to wait a while," explained Venrick. "Yesterday our team had a lot of misses on pommel horse, and it put more pressure on me. When I got to the pommel, I took a couple of deep breaths and I kind of hit my center. It felt good to win and it was a surprise, but with the graduation loss of Garrek Hojan-Clark (last year's champion), I am trying to help fill his shoes."
Glenn, who defended his all-around title yesterday, competed in two finals and posted his best mark on high bar. After turning in the top score of 14.8 to finish first on high bar in Friday's team scoring, Glenn bettered that mark with a 14.9 to tie his career high, but had to settle for runner-up honors after being edged by Penn State's Matt Felleman (14.95) for the title. Glenn also competed on floor exercise.
Kusnitz improved upon his fifth-place first-day showing on the high bar in claiming third-place honors behind a career high 14.3.He also medaled on floor exercise, equaling Friday's sixth-place showing following a 14.0.
The story of the meet belongs to Pritts, who just missed qualifying for the individual finals on floor exercise after scoring a 14.6 Friday evening. Prior to the meet, he was told he would be competing because of a late scratch.
The freshman from Cygnet, Ohio, was Army's last competitor on that event and went out and improved upon that posting with a 14.2 to tie with Penn State's Alex Torres for third-place honors as the duo trailed the runner-up spot by .25.
"I found out about an hour-and-a-half beforehand that I would be competing," said Pritts. "It was hectic and I rushed down to get warmed up and it turned out well. I am very happy with it.
"I was just doing one event and I didn't have time to prepare mentally. I just acted like it was a practice and went out there and did what I normally do and it paid off. "
The Black Knights, who finished third in Friday's team scoring, are idle next week as they prepare for the annual All-Academy Championship being held in Houston, Texas, Feb. 1. Army finished runner-up to Air Force last year and is in the hunt for the title.