Gymnastics Honored with the 2021-22 NAAA Director of Athletics Cup

ANNAPOLIS, MD. – With the brigade reforming and classes beginning last week, this was recently announced by the Navy Director of Athletics Chet Gladchuk that the Navy’s gymnastics program was awarded the 2021-22 Director of Athletics Cup.

The Director of Athletics Cup was established to recognize intercollegiate excellence and the Naval Academy varsity team representing itself as the standard bearer in the areas of academics, leadership, varsity competition, conduct, suitability for commissions and honor.

It is the first time in program history that the gymnastics team has won the Director of Athletics Cup.

The Mids have been strong throughout the regular season, finishing the tournament with a 14-3 aggregate record and going undefeated against their ECAC league opponents, losing only twice to Big Ten’s Penn State and once to Illinois. At the annual Star Meet, Navy rode to a 17.7-point victory over Army on February 5, 397.25 to 379.55, as the Host Mids bested the Black Knights in all six events, including 3.0-plus Points advantage on the pommel horse, wrestling and high pole. The win was their fourth straight win over Army. The Navy also won its fourth straight All-Academy Championship over the Army and Air Force by a 12.25-point lead over the Black Knights and a 13.6-point lead over the Falcons.

The Mids’ momentum continued into the postseason, where they finished top of the standings at the USAG Collegiate Championship and a week later at the ECAC Championship. The USAG team title was the second consecutive title for the program, while the ECAC crown extended the Navy’s winning streak to four straight championships. Overall, Navy gymnasts collected five individual titles from the USAGs and six more from the ECACs.

The Navy’s campaign culminated at the 2022 NCAA Championships in Norman, Oklahoma, where more history was made. The Mids, competing in the national championship for the seventh time in program history, earned their best seventh-place finish as a team with 399,023 points. Among the 12 squads, the Navy outperformed Penn State, Cal, Air Force, Springfield, and Army. The Mids’ best team result to date was tenth place.

Nine Navy gymnasts advanced from the qualifying meet and competed in the finals of the NCAA championship. Senior josh williams and jr Giovanni Gambate challenged for All-American Honors (top-8) as Williams finished 10th on rings, just .067 points from eight, while Gambatese had .234 points when he finished 13th on high bar. Also newbie Isaiah Drake 14th place in the all-around. senior citizens Checkout Buske (rings, bar) and Alexander Brown (Rings), Jr Connor VanLoo (vault), sophomores Syam Buradagunta (pommel horse, vault, high bar), Caleb Hickey (floor exercise) and Ronan McQuillan (pommel horse) also competed in the Event Finals of the NCAA Championship.

All of the Mids’ regular season and championship successes led to Drake being named the 2022 ECAC Rookie of the Year Dhiren Lutchman Recognition as a USAG Collegiate Gymnastics Outstanding Senior Athlete.

For his four years of work both in and out of the gym, Williams was one of eight seniors from across the country selected as a finalist for the 2022 Nissen-Emery Award. The national honor is the equivalent of the Heisman Trophy in men’s gymnastics and has been awarded since 1966. Williams is only the fourth Navy gymnast to achieve finalist status and the first since 2012.

The head coach’s trio Kip Simons and assistants Craig Holt and Mike Reid were also honored with post-season honors when they were named USAG National Coach and Assistant Coach of the Year and Collegiate Gymnastics Association (CGA) East Regional Coach and Assistant Coach of the Year, respectively.

This past offseason, the program was back on the national stage when Drake represented the Naval Academy at the 2022 US Classic and the 2022 US Men’s Gymnastics Championship. His efforts at the latter earned him one of the most coveted spots on the United States’ Senior National Development Team. Drake is the first member of the Navy’s male gymnastics team in modern history to earn a position on either the Senior National or Senior Development Team for US Gymnastics. He will now attend multiple training camps throughout the year with the potential to represent the United States at international meetings. He is also automatically qualified for the 2023 Winter Cup and US Championships.

Academically, the program achieved the ninth-highest team GPA in collegiate gymnastics with an overall grade of 3.168. Individual, Williams and sophomore Ian Dinmore spotlighted the team’s success when Williams was elected a CoSIDA Academic All-District II Honoree while Dinmore achieved a perfect 4.0 GPA as a chemistry major. Dinmore is currently tied for the highest GPA for Midshipmen in the Class of 2024.

Past Winners

1995-96: Rifle
1996-97: soccer, women’s track and field
1997-98: men’s cross-country, sprint soccer
1998-99: women’s soccer, men’s tennis
1999-00: Rifle
2000-01: Water Polo
2001-02: Light rowing
2002-03: Women’s Soccer
2003-04: Light rowing
2004-05: Women’s team
2005-06: Sprint Soccer
2006–07: Women’s Athletics
2007–08: Men’s swimming and diving
2008-09: Women’s Cross Country
2009-10: Water Polo
2010-11: Men’s Cross Country
2011–12: Women’s Lacrosse
2012-13: Women’s rowing
2013-14: Men’s Football
2014-15: Sprint Soccer
2015-16: Baseball
2016-17: Women’s Lacrosse
2017-18: Women’s Athletics
2018-19: Men’s Athletics
2019-20: Not awarded due to the COVID-19 pandemic
2020-21: Intercollegiate Sailing
2021-22: Gymnastics

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