Jan. 12, 2002
WEST POINT, N.Y. - Junior John Robella tied for first place on floor exercise, and senior team captain Troy Pazcoguin placed third on parallel bars and fourth on vault during the individual finals of the 11th Annual West Point Gymnastics Open Saturday evening at Christl Arena.
The last competitor to perform on floor, Robella knocked Penn State's Kevin Donohue from the runnerup spot (8.9) with his score of 9.0 to earn a share of the individual title with Massachusetts' Patrick McFarlin. Robella was fourth in Friday's prelims with an 8.95, while McFarlin registered a 9.0 in tying for second place.
"I was worried about the first pass because it makes me nervous," stated Robella a two-time NCAA qualifier and Army's top floor performer since his freshman year. "But when I hit, the adrenaline started pumping and I was able to finish my routines strong."
Robella is the fourth Black Knight to be crowned a champion at this event, and the second to claim the title on floor exercise. James Lewis first captured that crown in 1994, while Ben Hayward was Army's last champion after winning the pommel horse title in 1999.
Pazcoguin qualified for the individual finals in two events, and his mark of 9.25 on vault was Army's highest score of the meet. That bettered his previous high of 9.15 that he recorded in Friday's prelims where he tied for fourth place with teammate Matt Eckerman, who finished seventh in the finals (8.8). Pazcoguin turned in his highest finish of third place on parallel bars with an 8.45 showing.
"I was happy with my performance, but it was tough on vault because I knew I would have to beat a 9.5," stated Pazcoguin, who at one point ranked first nationally on that apparatus last year. "I did as well as I could and I am happy with my score. My third place finish on parallel bars was a surprise. I made a change to my routine and it all came together."
McFarlin, who finished fifth in the all-around scoring on Friday, was the only double winner of the meet. In addition to sharing the title on floor exercise, he posted the top mark on pommel horse of 9.35
Penn State, winning its fifth straight West Point Open Friday evening, claimed the top two spots in three of the six individual events. Kevin Tan won rings, (9.6), Matt Abboud was first on p-bars (8.8) and Adam Benas captured high bar (9.05). Vaile Ciona of American Gymnastics rounded out the winners with his 9.5 on vault.
Army, ranked 14th nationally, finished fourth in the team standings on Friday after being edged for third place by 4/10s of a point by No. 12 Temple.