With a team full of underclassmen and the loss of only two super seniors, the Texas A&M men’s gymnastics team remains hopeful they can move from underdog to top dog after the 2020 season was cut short by the coronavirus.
Before the season was canceled in mid March, the men’s team was preparing for the TGC Championships and the NAIGC Nationals. Competitors said the team was well positioned to regain their No. 1 title after coming in second behind Oklahoma for two consecutive years.
Junior Carlos Ojeda said he was devastated when he first got word about the season cancellation.
“Everyone anticipated that the series of cancellations were the right precautions that the world needs to take as far as keeping everyone safe,” Ojeda said. “My main focus now is making sure the team kills it throughout the next semesters, both in and out of the gym.”
Freshman Cameron Victor said he felt disbelief hearing his first year on the team was cut short.
“The rest of the season was canceled just hours before I planned to leave for the NCAA OU vs. Air Force vs. A&M meet,” Victor said. “I understand that it is the safest thing to do for our nation, and I'm trying to accept it.”
Victor said he was looking forward to competing at the TGC Championships after hearing about his teammate’s prior experiences.
“I imagined how cool it would’ve been to experience hosting a meet because it’s something I hadn’t done in the past,” Victor said.
Prior to cancellations, Ojeda said he was preparing to compete for the Oklahoma meet in Norman.
“I had certain upgrades ready, my routines were finally getting more consistent and my spirits were higher than ever to finally live my dream of competing at an NCAA competition,” Ojeda said.
Victor admitted that trying to stay mentally and physically in shape for next season is a burden.
“Straying from a healthy routine is the main temptation right now,” Victor said. “As gymnasts, we continue to work year-round in order to be prepared for the season, so the cancellation of practices prevents us from doing so.”
Given the changes, Ojeda said he is still communicating and leading the team through FaceTime calls to hold them accountable and keep everyone involved.
“I’ve started to lead the men’s team on stretching and conditioning every Tuesday and Thursday,” Ojeda said. “I’m hoping this will spark the fire for them at home to start working on their basics, strength and flexibility. We are all in this together as a team.”
As of now, Ojeda said he is home in Austin finishing up the current semester online and training for the 2021 season.
“I’m still at home training doing calisthenics, stretching and just moving everyday while going to my 8 a.m.s online,” Ojeda said.
Victor said he’s taking this opportunity to get some rest and heal so he can hit the ground running next season.
“Rest is something that does not come by often for a college student involved in a demanding sport,” Victor said. “But once this is over, I have to train hard as ever to overcome time lost.”
In terms of next season, Ojeda said he is working on rebuilding and setting goals for himself.
“I’m planning out training for the whole year by making benchmarks, improving nutrition, refining basics and working on getting stronger,” Ojeda said. “I want to qualify for three events next year.”
Victor said his main goal is to maintain his spot on the floor and parallel bars event.
“I would hopefully like to gain a spot on the rings and pommel horse line-up, too,” Victor said.
Although this is a new experience for the team, Victor said his hope is that the team can have an opportunity to restart for next year.
“The Aggie Spirit is something that cannot be broken easily,” Victor said. “We will hit the next season as hard as we can.”