2014 – 2015 Season Preview

The 2014 – 15 gymnastics season is quickly approaching now that we have finished our 31st season of ushering Husky football games. With great anticipation, I am also crossing my fingers that it will be one of our best gymnastics years ever. My optimism stems from having our strongest recruiting class ever, adding to last year’s much-improved team. There is an honest belief among the team that we will be able to contend with Arizona State and NCAA programs ranked 12 through 16. This will require a very significant 25-point improvement over last year’s high score and will no doubt surprise many of our competitors.

Training this fall has been spirited, with some of the gymnasts performing skills that our team and the gym where we train have never seen before. The resulting energy created between teammates has raised practice to a new level. More than ever, the guys are encouraging each other to get better and perform with more attention to detail. From this motivation, team dynamics are better than ever and this is spilling into our fundraising events as well. We recently added set-up and tear-down of a new volleyball floor for the Husky Volleyball team to our list of fundraising activities. As with our equipment moves for the UW Women’s Gymnastics team, our close coordination and focus make this an efficient fundraiser for us. Overall, I see our team and how it runs as an example to our gymnastics community. With the ever-changing tide of NCAA athletics about to shift toward the big three sports of football, basketball, and baseball, Olympic sports will no doubt be squeezed in the coming years. I believe our model of self-sustainability will become the norm for Olympic sports. It feels incredibly fortunate to be impervious to fears of whether our funding will be sacrificed to give to another sport.

This year’s recruiting class comes primarily from California. Two of these young men are good friends of current team member and fellow Californian Justin Rowen. Carl Meader was a teammate of Justin’s in Sacramento. Nathan Tsuji is a good friend from a gym in Santa Cruz. Carl and Nathan are very good gymnasts that will contend for top spots on many events. Individually, Carl has a unique skillset of quickness, flexibility, and strength enabling him to perform some very original skills. So far this fall, Carl has established himself as the gymnast to beat on this team. Nathan brings exceptional form and technical execution with his gymnastics. He has very straight lines and is enjoyable to watch. The third team member recruited from California is Nick Kano from Los Angeles. Nick – this year’s Dr. Hughes Scholarship award winner – is a good all-arounder with explosive vaulting and tremendous strength on rings. He is majoring in Aeronautical Engineering and will be a great asset to the team. Rounding out this outstanding freshman class is Chris Ramsey from Montana. Chris has a tremendous work ethic and is extremely coachable. Chris will compete for the team this year on floor, pommels, vault and maybe parallel bars. He is training to be an all-arounder and I have no doubt that he will have good routines to perform shortly.

Adding these four recruits to last year’s top three all-arounders Brandon Waller, Justin Rowen, and Aaron Moss gives the team a solid base upon which specialists Max Soifer (sophomore) and Franklin Stutevoss (senior) can help the team attain its goals. Wyatt Zmrzel, also in his second year, looks to specialize on parallel bars and pommel horse this season, giving us good depth on those difficult events. All five of these returners can lead the team in different ways giving us a good mix of leadership by way of energy, example, work ethic, and humor. It is a very good group of young men that want to win.

There are two additional team members, Alex Maybruck and Danny Gove. Alex got his first taste of competition last season, doing well on floor exercise and vault at our meet in Germany. Danny has real potential on pommel horse and will look to break into the lineup by season’s end.

All in all, it is an exciting year ahead as we look to surprise some teams and improve to the next level. It has been some years since we were at this level; now, thanks to improved recruiting outside of our region, it is here again and we look to take advantage of it and continue to improve.

Please come to one of our competitions, either home or away! Check out our schedule on the back cover. Traveling to Arizona or California in February or March can be just what the doctor ordered for us Washingtonians and Oregonians!

Mark Russo

Read the rest of our Season Preview Newsletter