After this weekend, Temple senior Alex Tighe will be accustomed to seeing blue and white fly across the gymnastics floor.
For the second week in a row, Tighe will go head-to-head with members of the No.1 ranked Nittany Lions. Only this time, it will be in a tri-meet between Penn State, William and Mary, and the host Owls on Saturday at 7 p.m. in Philadelphia.
Tighe and six Nittany Lions performed in last weekend’s Winter Cup in Las Vegas, where gymnasts from across the country competed to earn a spot on the United States senior national team. While no Lions were selected, experience competing with the best in the nation could prove to be essential come NCAA tournament time in late April.
Sophomore Matthew Felleman said the Winter Cup gave him perspective on what he needed to do to move forward as a gymnast. While the tournament was an individual competition, the Medway, Mass. native said he believes it will help the Lions as they progress through their season.
This weekend’s meet will provide the Lions another opportunity to refine their routines against quality opponents, as No. 11 William and Mary and No. 12 Temple both come in nationally ranked.
Saturday will mark the second time that coach Randy Jepson’s squad has seen the Owls and Tribe this season. At the Navy Open in mid-January, Penn State (440.9) easily defeated both schools, who came in second (William and Mary-409.4) and third (Temple-407.05) respectively.
While their ultimate goal remains capturing their 13th national championship, Jepson is quick to note the season is still young.
“We’re one lap done with a four-lap race,” said Jepson.
If the Lions seek any additional motivation for this weekend, they can look at the impressive resume of Tribe gymnast Landon Funiciello. Along with taking the still rings title in Annapolis, the junior was an All-American in the event in 2011 after placing sixth in the NCAA’s.
Senior Felix Aronovich normally holds the distinction as the only Israeli gymnast when the Lions compete, but two of his countrymen will join him on the floor this Saturday. Temple trots out Taylor Brana and Assaf Zoor, who was a member of the national team. Last summer, Aronovich represented the Middle-Eastern country in the London Olympics and competed in the all-around competition.