Army sophomore Andrew Avelino
was named the ECAC (Eastern College Athletic Conference) Gymnast of the Week Tuesday morning following his return to the sport after a long and arduous comeback from a serious injury suffered last year.
A highly-recruited all-arounder, Avelino suffered an injury below the knee the fall of his freshman year (2010) that resulted in several surgeries and a long recuperation period. Returning to West Point in August (2011), Avelino continued where he left off in the gym, concentrating his efforts first on pommel horse followed by high bar.
It was high bar that head coach Doug Van Everen felt would be the best event for Avelino to compete on in the season opener after seeing him progress during the preseason. Avelino made his collegiate debut on Jan. 14 against No. 6 Penn State where he finished second among the Black Knights and seventh overall on high bar with a score of 13.2.
At the conclusion of the meet, the Gene Wettstone Award (named after former long-time Penn State coach) was presented to Avelino. Given to the outstanding competitor after every home meet, the young Army gymnast drew the applause of his fellow athletes, coaches and fans alike for his courage and determination that led to his recovery, a return to the Academy and to gymnastics.
Avelino is the second Black Knight to receive the Wettsone Award, joining Army Hall of Famer Steve Marshall (USMA 1996). He is the third Army gymnast over the past year to earn ECAC weekly honors. Tim Tieng (vs. Penn State) and Kip Webber (vs. Springfield, Temple & Penn State) were both honored in January 2011 following their performances in the season opener (Tieng) and end of the month (Webber), respectively.
Army returns to action this weekend hosting the 21st annual West Point Open with the team competition Friday evening at 7 p.m.and the individuals Saturday evening 7:15 p.m. at Christl Arena. Senior team captain Jonathan Hoey is the defending pommel horse champion and the Black Knights will look to equal or better last year's third-place finish.
Penn State is in the hunt to capture its 15th West Point Open Title and fourth straight when it takes on Army, Temple, Springfield and Navy, along with club teams Arizona State and Brockport.