Matthews tops open class in Md. Cup

January 24, 1994|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,Contributing Writer

Paul Matthews of Columbia can't help but laugh a little about his introduction to gymnastics.

"I guess I was a hyperactive child," said Matthews, 15. "My parents put me in gymnastics because it took up a lot of energy."

Nearly 10 years later, the Wilde Lake sophomore continues to put that energy to good use.

Competing in the open class at yesterday's 29-team Maryland Gymnastics Cup at UMBC, Matthews took first place in four events, winning the all-around title and possibly moving a step closer to his dream of a spot on the U.S. national team.

Competing for Gymnastics Plus of Columbia, Matthews recovered from a pair of falls in the pommel horse to score victories in floor exercise (8.2), vault (8.2), parallel bars (8.55) and high bar (8.4).

His six-event total of 46.8 won the all-around by a point. Jay Rivers ofthe Marvateens (Rockville) finished second (45.8), and Ben Jewart of the Pittsburgh Northstars took third (45.4).

The next closest local finishers were Kevin Gibson and Num Kutz of Gymnastics Plus, sixth and seventh, respectively.

Matthews was not satisfied with his effort.

"I hit [my routines] OK today, but I've had competitions where I've hit them a lot better," said the gymnast, ranked 11th nationally in Class Two by USA Gymnastics.

Matthews attributes much of his success to the tutelage of first-year Gym Plus coach Jing H. Liang, who helped him make great strides in the rings and vault.

"I think he has tremendous potential," said Liang. "If he works hard, he can go very far. He's a very talented kid."

But Matthews was only a small part of Gym Plus' success yesterday.

The team placed six gymnasts among the top 13 to win the open team championship, beating World Cup Gymnastics of Marlboro, by more than two points.

In other classes, Tom Kutz (Class III, 12-13), Adam Frias and RobertPierangeli (Class III, 14-15), David Curry, Curtis Haines and Brett Nelligan (Class IV, 12-13) and Matt Kolesar and Ryan Davis (Class V, 12-over) finished in the top five overall.

The biggest winner of all was Matthews.

For a gymnast who came within an eyelash of making the cut for the junior national team last year, gold medals at invitationals only serve as nice decorations.

"My aspirations are to land a college scholarship and make the national team," said Matthews. "I think I have a good chance this year."

Team scores

Open class: 1. Gym Plus (Md.) 133.8; 2. World Cup, 131.7; Class II: Royal, 96.0; Class V: 1. Lancers, 110.5; 2. Harford, 104.8; 3. World Cup, 101.5; Class VI (10-11): 1 World Cup, 89.9; 2 Gymstrada, 84.3; 3. Marvateens, 81.7; Class VI (7-9): 1. Marvateens: 92.6; 2. Hanover Kips, 86.9; 3. Gymstrada, 83.3.

Individuals, Open class

All-around: 1. Matthews, Gym Plus, 46.8; 2. Rivera, Marvateens, 45.8; 3. Jewart, Pitt. Northstars, 45.4.

Floor: 1. Matthews, Gym Plus, 8.2; 2. Beatty, World Cup, 8.1; 3. Jewart. Pitt. Northstars, 8.05.

Horse: 1. Beatty, World Cup, 8.2; 2. Flannery, Hanover Kips, 8.0; 3. Rivera, Marvateens, 7.6.

Rings: 1. Goicoechia, Capital, 8.1; 2. Gibson, Gym Plus, 8.05; 3. Flannery, 8.0.

Vault: 1. Matthews, Gym Plus, 8.2; 2. Jewart, Pitt. Northstars, 8.2; 3. Gibson, Gym Plus, 8.2.

Parallel bars: 1. Matthews, Gym Plus, 8.55; 2. Flannery, Hanover Kips, 8.4; 3. Beatty, World Cup, 8.25.

High bar: 1. Matthews, Gym Plus, 8.4; 2. Flannery, Hanover Kips, 8.15; 3. Kutz, Gym Plus, 8.05.

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