The Nation's Oldest Continuously Published Student Newspaper

The Simpsonian

The Nation's Oldest Continuously Published Student Newspaper

The Simpsonian

The Nation's Oldest Continuously Published Student Newspaper

The Simpsonian

SCTV 2/21/2024
by Aaron Wilkins and Sam HyingFebruary 21, 2024

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Men’s gymnastics ‘sticks the landing’ after a tumultuous first year

Abby Hintz
Milo Staley competes in pommel horse at Simpson’s first home meet in 2023.

Simpson’s Men’s Gymnastics team had to work to stick their landing after their first year of competition. At the start of their 2024 season, they one-upped their previous season’s start, posting a team score of 366 points, 25 higher than their first year. 

Now entering their second season, they hope to keep up the momentum.

Head coach Colin Payne, former assistant coach at the Naval Academy, said, “Last year was a whirlwind, it was wild. It was honestly a lot, and I don’t know a better way to put it. We were trying to get equipment in, and we were coming off a pandemic, so there were shipping delays, so we didn’t have a preseason that first year.” 

Other teams in the NCAA have the ability to train year-round, a luxury that wasn’t afforded to the Simpson team in their first year. 

Payne added, “It was a lot of stress because I knew what we needed to be doing, and we just weren’t able to do it.” And, with no permanent place to practice, the team was forced to travel to a facility in Des Moines or cram into Cowles. 

Starting a program from the ground up has its challenges, but the team looked beyond those hurdles and sees their opportunity here as nothing short of a privilege. 

“I started gymnastics when I was nine, which is typically a little late to get started, but it’s the only sport I’ve ever done,” Sophomore Camden Bontempo said. “I always wanted to be a college gymnast, so having this opportunity was really exciting because it gave me a way to achieve my dream. With there not being many programs left and programs dropping recently, I’m glad I found Simpson.”

The number of men’s gymnastics programs has been drastically dropping throughout the country. With only 15 teams left in the NCAA, Simpson is a bright spot for many aspiring gymnasts. This year, the Simpson team brought back all 15 men from last season and added an additional 12 to the roster.

“The biggest improvement we’ve had is just adding more freshmen to the team, which expands what we can bring to competitions and deepens our roster,” sophomore Sterling Pariza said.“Last year, we were limited to only 15 guys, and with injuries, fatigue and people getting sick, it’s hard to form a full lineup and be very competitive.

Freshman Brian Rollison was able to beat a school record in his first meet with the team on rings. Pariza and Bontempo also added their own records in their season debut l; Pariza with the all-around school record and Bontempo with the new school record on the vault.

The team hopes that Simpson’s addition to a men’s gymnastics team can bring new life into the sport. 

“Every single gymnast in the country probably knew about Simpson because we were one of two new programs being introduced into the NCAA,“ Rollison said. “Simpson is one of the first new gymnastics programs in a long time, so it was kind of something everyone knew about. Not a lot of people get to experience being a college gymnast, so it’s been an honor to be a part of it.”

Head coach Payne believes, with his years of experience in both competing and coaching, the team has a solid chance of competing amongst the best teams in the NCAA. 

“It’s interesting coming to Simpson because here it’s a big thing to compete against D1 schools and to bring people from out of state, but for us in gymnastics, it’s kind of our world,” Payne said. “That’s what I’m used to, and especially at the Naval Academy, we have to have representation from the whole country, so that’s what I’m used to and how I’m used to recruiting anyways.”

Although it’s only their second year, the team is already showing tremendous promise in boosting awareness of the school and bringing in students from out-of-state. Payne continues to build on this and already has an open-invite competition for junior gymnasts planned for the weekend of Feb. 16. 

“The more people we can bring to Simpson, the more awareness we can get for our program and our school. The competition brings kids to campus from the age of six all the way up to 18. ” Payne said. 

The team has two home meets scheduled for this year. The first is on Feb. 3, and the other on Feb. 17.

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Chloe Peck, News Editor
Abby Hintz, ID Magazine Editor-in-Chief & Layout Editor

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