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#NCAAMGym Week 6 Recap

Here we are at the Winter Cup break. We’ll get to watch this weekend as scores of current #NCAAMGym gymnasts fight for a coveted spot on the U.S. National Team, but first, let’s take a look at what happened last weekend.

Here’s the One Thing We Learned this week:

Cal Should Compete For A Spot In Super Six

This isn’t me predicting that the Golden Bears will be making it into the NCAA Team Finals, but rather pointing out that this is a much different team than we’re used to. Cal last made second day at NCAA’s back in 2015 where they finished in fifth place. Not until now has it felt like they have a legitimate chance to get back.

With the exception of rings, Cal really hung with a very, very good Stanford team this weekend. Maybe they’ve just become accustomed to competing against them, but it’s obvious that at the very least this is an improved team.

Despite losing Yordan Aleksandrov from last year they haven’t skipped a beat. Darren Wong has much to do with that, but there are plenty of other gymnasts stepping up.

It’s great to see Cal competing at a high level again.

Stanford @ Cal

Sound familiar? Stanford and Cal met each other for the fifth straight time this past weekend. With only two Division I teams left on the west coast, these two have no choice but to follow this monotonous schedule.  Hopefully we will one day be able to see some teams join them out there.

Stanford took home another victory with their third-straight score above 410. They have shown no real weakness this year, ranking in the top two on every single event except vault, where they are ranked fourth. This meet showcased, once again, their remarkable consistency as their lowest event total was a 67.700 on high bar. They scored a 70.200 on both p-bars and floor, with the other three events sandwiched in between.

Brody Malone had another great meet competing on five events and taking the p-bars title with a 14.350. Trevor Digerolamo scored a season high 14.450 on rings good enough for first. David Jessen had another awesome high bar performance, winning the event with a 14.000.

The Cardinal had another terrific competition but unfortunately, by no fault of their own, it is tough to be able to tell if they are really capable of dethroning Oklahoma. Stanford has not yet faced a Big Ten team or OU, making it impossible to see how they perform against the top teams in the country. Until we see it, Stanford will likely continue to be looked at as OUโ€™s inferior.

Cal broke the 400 barrier for the first time this season by four points. This was a tremendous accomplishment for them, especially considering what some of the other teams vying for a top-12 spot did across the country in Annapolis. The narrative of the remarkable improvement in team score stems from pommel horse.

The top score on pommel horse so far this year for the Golden Bears was a 63.750. This past weekend that number ballooned to a 68.450. Has Cal finally found a remedy for their weakness? Darren Wong led the pommel horse surge taking home the lone event title for his team with a 14.450. If Cal can keep this up, great things are ahead of them for the remainder of the season. — Ben Cooperman

Check out full results here.

Arizona State @ Minnesota

Make that three straight weeks of 406+ for the Minnesota Gophers.

No doubt about it, a good way to head into the Winter Cup break with such a solid all around performance. As a matter of fact, at this point in the season, Minnesota is one of just four teams (Oklahoma, Stanford and Michigan being the others) to rank within the top-eight on every single event as a team.

One gymnast contributing heavily to the success in recent weeks has been Shane Wiskus. On Saturday, the sophomore competed four events, placing top-three in all of them, and winning three (VT, PB & HB). As long as they can conserve his energy throughout the rest of the season (he’s already competed all-around three times), Wiskus should prove to be the backbone of this team in the postseason.

Other winners were Shaun Herzog (FX), Vitali Kan (PH) and Justin Karstadt (SR).

As for the Sun Devils, their trip to Minneapolis was nothing to write home about as star Kiwan Watts received a bit of a breather while only doing three events. ASU’s lone top-three finish did come from the aforementioned Watts whose 13.85 earned him a runner-up finish on PB. — Logan Bradley

Check out full results here.

Oklahoma @ Iowa

The best team in the country looked strangely unremarkable against the Iowa Hawkeyes last Saturday.

No. 1 Oklahoma topped Iowa 405.15-397.75 in what amounted to their lowest-scoring meet in recent history. It was the first time the Sooners dipped below 410 in the contemporary scoring system.

OU was without the full contribution of some of their stars, who were resting for this weekendโ€™s Winter Cup, but they were beleaguered by a now familiar problem โ€” pommel horse, where their 62.65 in Iowa City was crippling, but not exceptional.

Itโ€™s also true that some of the apparent tepidness of OUโ€™s meet stemmed from the โ€œrigorโ€ of the judging; itโ€™s unlikely OUโ€™s same meet would have dipped as low as 405 in Norman or Minneapolis. As weโ€™re seeing, the prospect of judging parity is eluding NCAA gymnastics for yet another season, to the chagrin of everyone who isnโ€™t a judge. Thatโ€™s as important a storyline as the meet itself.

But back to that: No. 10 Iowa had their struggles as well. Yet, coming within 10 of the Sooners is nothing to sneeze at, and the Hawkeyes again managed to have some success in employing the low-D, high-E strategy. Just 10 out of 36 routines for the Hawkeyes had a D-score of 5.0 or higher, but 10 out of 36 routines had an E-score of 9.0 or higher.

For OU, 25 out of 36 routines had a D-score of 5.0 or higher, but just six out of 36 had an E-score of 9.0 or higher. Thereโ€™s your meet.

The biggest setback for Iowa this past weekend was pommel horse; they dropped over four points on that event alone from the weekend before. If a team wants to champion the low-D-score strategy, they have to hit. Had Iowa had the same day on horse as they did against Minnesota, they would have wound up less than three points behind the Sooners.

OU claimed every individual event title, and the all around was won by Iowaโ€™s Andrew Herrador. Vitaliy Guimaraes earned a FX title; Genki Suzuki won horse and p-bars; Peter Daggett won rings; Alexei Vernyi won vault with a stuck Kas 1.5; and Levi Anderson won high bar.

Both teams get this weekend to reset. Representing OU at Winter Cup will be Yul Moldauer, Suzuki, Gage Dyer, Guimaraes, Tanner Justus, Matt Wenske, Vernyi, Anderson and Spencer Goodell. Representing Iowa will be Jake Brodarzon, Bennet Huang and Evan Davis. — Alex Wittenberg

Check out full results here.

All-Academy Championships

The three academies have been a staple in the world of menโ€™s NCAA gymnastics for a long time. Every year, the three (Air Force, Navy and Army) duke it out in one competition. This yearโ€™s championship was better than ever, with all three teams looking tremendous. The Navy Midshipmen took the opportunity to shock everyone.

Navy posted a 408.500 โ€“ a score they were unable to attain the entirety of last season. Their performance moved them up to No. 7 in the national rankings, ahead of three Big Ten teams. This kind of early success from an academy hasnโ€™t been seen in years.

David Toussaint won both floor (14.400) and pommel horse (14.050). His horse score led the team to a 66.350, putting them at No. 4 nationally on the event. Toussaint himself is sitting comfortably No. 4 in the country as well and should not be overlooked as an All-American contender.

What else is fueling Navyโ€™s unprecedented start to the 2019 season? High bar. The Midshipmen scored a 67.550 on the event, moving them to No. 3 in the nation behind Stanford and Oklahoma. They were paced by first and second place finishes from Ben Provost (13.750) and Cash Buske (13.650).  The Navy victory further proves they are a force to be reckoned with.

It was a bit surprising to see Air Force outpace Army to come in second. Early on, the Falcons looked like a team that could be sitting at home in April while the top-12 teams took the floor in Champaign. They showed they are worthy of one of those spots this past weekend.

Jonah Urlaub was the standout that led his team to a runner-up finish. The senior took second place on pommel horse (13.800) and rings (13.900). He also tacked on a first place finish on vault (14.500) with a clean yurchenko double full.

Army showed some regression from their previous performance where they broke the 400 mark. Their 396.400 put them in third, a disappointing finish for a very talented team. The event that brought them down was p-bars where they scored a 63.800, sliding them to a No. 15 ranking in the country. Improvements on this event will give them the best shot at taking down Navy and others down the road.

There were still bright spots for the Black Knights. Matthew Davis continues to shine. The freshman took home the rings title (14.000) and grabbed a second place finish on floor (14.350)Cole Casanova was outstanding, yet again, scoring an 80.950 as the lone all-arounder in the meet. — Ben Cooperman

Check out full results here.

Penn State and Springfield @ UIC

A snowy afternoon in Chicago proved to be a difficult one for all three teams competing. However, Penn State was able to build up a comfortable enough lead to take a convincing 20+ point victory once all was said and done.

The Nittany Lions had a good day on FX, PH, SR and VT in the win. Parallel bars and high bar, however, were a different story as they dealt with significant struggles.

Still, individuals claimed every event title, with the exception of VT and all-around. Brayden Borromeo split FX with teammate Brennan Pantazis, Stephen Nedoroscik continued his stellar year on PH, Isaac Hammet won SR, Wyatt Tyndall took home the PB crown and Favian Valdez/Michael Burns topped the HB standings.

Penn State will come out of the Winter Cup break with a home meet against Air Force and Navy.

Struggling to their lowest score since the season opener, Springfield‘s highlight came in the form of a meet-winning 14.25 vault from Stephen Lewis. The junior took home the all-around title with a 75.85.

We won’t talk about pommel horse, but UIC really had a decent day. Most encouraging was the fact that a pair of freshmen, Nick Smiley and Paul Burney, secured top-four finishes on parallel bars and high bar, respectively. — Logan Bradley

Check out full results here.

#NCAAMGym Week 5 Recap

Amazingly, we’re already five weeks into the NCAA season. Winter Cup is fast approaching, and before you know it, postseason will be bearing down upon us. Even though a few teams will enjoy a bit of a break here starting shortly, a few have already begun to find a groove. Oklahoma is doing Oklahoma things, Michigan is enjoying a resurgence and Stanford is doing everything they can to put themselves in the national title conversation.

Speaking of the Cardinal, a member of that team is the centerpiece of the One Thing We Learned this week:

Brody Malone Is The Next NCAA Superstar

In the NBA, and a couple of other professional sports, there’s something about athletes on the west coast that makes them fly under the radar. Well, I guess the main thing is that they’re usually starting games/matches/competitions while everyone on the east coast is settling into bed. In case that’s been you so far this season, let me clue you into the NCAA’s next superstar, Brody Malone:

I’d say that speaks for itself, but I’ll elaborate a bit. Though Malone came into his freshman year as arguably the top recruit in his class, there wasn’t a whole lot of chatter about his debut. He’s quickly changed things with two 84+ all-around performances in a row. His 84.55 from January 27 stands as the second-best single score this season behind Cameron Bock’s 84.7.

In a nutshell, it seems that we might have the NCAA’s next superstar on our hands. It will take a whole lot before we can put him into conversation alongside the Mikulak’s and Moldauer’s of the world, but you get my point.

It should be a lot of fun to follow Malone’s growth as a gymnast over the next four seasons.

Pac-12 Invitational

With the inaugural Big Ten regular season championship title on the line, most of the conversation has surrounded the teams itching for their shot at the trophy.  However, the four teams out west clearly wanted some shine for themselves as they all posted season-highs at the Pac-12 Invitational.  Stanford made the biggest statement with a 19+ point victory in Tempe.

(via RoadToNationals.com)

The Stanford Cardinal have found a new leader in freshman phenom Brody Malone. Just two years after Akash Modiโ€™s departure, it looks like Thom Glielmi has already found another transcendent talent. Malone has been lights out so far in 2019 and was his usual self this past weekend. The freshman took home the all-around title with an 84.200 and placed in the top six on all six events.

Sophomore Andrew Bitner had a great performance as well, putting up an 81.100 in the all-around, good enough for fourth place. Grant Breckenridge finished right above him in third (81.750) and took second on high bar (13.700). Three Cardinal went 80+, reminding OU they are not the only team with multiple all-around threats.

David Jessen only competed on two events but made them count.  Jessen took home both the pommel horse (13.950) and high bar (13.750) titles.  Stanford will need more of the same from their pommel horse squad as this event is clearly their Achilles heel. All in all, it was another impressive showing for Stanford, but not enough to prove they are the top team. We will have to wait for MPSF Championships for them to have their shot at Oklahoma.

Cal posted a season high 398.800, inching closer and closer to jumping the 400 mark. They were led to a second place finish and it was once again Darren Wong who paced the Bears. His 80.900 was good enough for fifth place as the freshman continues to churn out solid performances. The Golden Bears have something very special in this guy. 

Fellow Canadian Aaron Mah was also great for Cal, including a 13.650 high bar set, earning him a third place finish. Cal has looked steady this year as they continue making incremental improvements meet after meet.  In order to really make the leap JT Okada will have to solve this teamโ€™s pommel horse issue, where they struggled again. Their 61.950 has now pulled them down to No. 14 in the country on the event.

Arizona State has now gone 390+ in three straight meets. They have been led by none other than Kiwan Watts who took second place in the all-around (82.550). Watts does have some company in Jordan Williams who finished in seventh with a 79.450. That included a huge second place vault (14.750). The pair of Sun Devils are blazing a path for their quickly-improving team.

Washington rounded out the field in fourth place, but posted a season-high team score at 376.800. Nathan Tsuji posted a sixth place finish (79.900) including a second place showing on floor (14.600). Similar to Cal, if the Huskies can figure out pommel horse, they will easily jump the 380 mark.  They posted a lackluster 56.350 this past weekend. — Ben Cooperman

Check out full results here.

Ohio State at Michigan

The Buckeyes traveled up north this week to face the Wolverines and got their first taste of conference competition. A meet that was close after two events turned into an 11-point blowout with Michigan coming out on top.

(via RoadToNationals.com)

Ohio State had the exact pommel horse rotation they needed to start off the competition. Alec Yoder led the charge with a meet-high 14.900 en route to a huge 68.100. All five counting scores were in the 13+ range.  Unfortunately, it all started to unravel from here for the Buckeyes.

Overall, it was a sloppy competition for Ohio State after pommel horse.  Multiple scores in the 11’s and 12’s popped up on the score sheet. This trend has continued for three meets now, and is surprising given some of the talent on their roster. 

There were some bright spots for the scarlet and gray, despite dropping to 0-1 within the Big Ten. Highly-touted recruit out of Canada, Jesse Tyndall, showed a spark on p-bars. The freshman posted a 13.900, good enough for a fourth place finish. Sean Neighbarger took home a pair of second place finishes as well (FX โ€“ 14.300, VT โ€“ 14.700). Ohio State did break the 400 barrier for the first time in 2019.

This meet was really about the reemergence of Michigan as a top team in the Big Ten. On a day that Cameron Bock was battling illness, his teammate Emyre Cole (B1G Gymnast of the Week) stepped up in a big way. The Las Vegas native had an outstanding competition, tallying an 84.100 all-around score. Cole also reeled in two first place event finishes (FX โ€“ 14.600 and VT โ€“ 14.750). The emergence of Cole as an all-around threat could be what really tips the scale in Michiganโ€™s favor down the road.

Michigan won five of six events in the blowout and the help did not come from just upperclassmen. Freshman Kevin Penev stepped up in a big way after a shaky start to his NCAA career. Penev posted a 14.300 on floor to tie for second place. His 15.8 start value puts him just one-tenth behind reigning NCAA champ Yul Moldauer. Penev adds serious difficulty to an already scary floor lineup.

The Wolverines proved themselves as the frontrunners in the Big Ten after this weekend. Despite getting some favorable judging (take a look at rings to see for yourself), Michigan is a really talented team that can execute.  Our previous thoughts have been confirmed: Michigan is back. — Ben Cooperman

Check out full results here.

Oklahoma and Illinois @ Nebraska

No. 1 Oklahoma, to no oneโ€™s surprise, sailed to victory over Nebraska and Illinois in Lincoln last Saturday. Far more dramatic, however, was the battle for second place, which was won by the No. 7 Huskers.

(via RoadToNationals.com)

Nebraskaโ€™s 401.25 was good enough to beat Big Ten rival Illinois, who finished with a 399.15 after a number of uncharacteristic mistakes. Nebraska didnโ€™t just improve markedly on their performance against Penn State the prior week; they also demonstrated an ability to show up when it matters most: a Big Ten regular season championship matchup.

The No. 6 Illini struggled particularly on high bar โ€” their 62.8 was a season-low by over a point, and it was more than two points behind Nebraskaโ€™s score on the event. Their horse score was also their lowest of the season by over a point, but it was surprisingly on par with the horse scores of Nebraska and Oklahoma.

Nebraska looked comfortable at home and stayed composed throughout the meet. Anton Stephenson had another solid day โ€” save for p-bars โ€” and claimed individual event titles on high bar (in a tie) and in the all-around.

Oklahoma looked sturdy throughout the meet. Their horse and high bar scores were low for them, though, and not all of that can be traced back to judging โ€” OU did look weaker than usual on those two. Still, they earned individual titles on floor, vault, p-bars and high bar: Yul Moldauer won floor and p-bars, Tanner Justus won vault and Genki Suzuki tied for the high bar crown.

Illinois, despite the loss, had their highlights too. Michael Paradise planted one of the most clutch sets of this season to save his teamโ€™s horse lineup with a 14.95, which was the meetโ€™s top score by 1.4. Alex Diabโ€™s ring dominance remained indubitable as well; he won the event with a 14.65.

But the big story is the loss, as we know. This was a meet many had hoped the Illini would use to prove they were capable of at least challenging the Sooners, of making it a contest. Instead, they crumbled during a competition that they knew would impact their chances of winning the Big Ten regular season championship. Bad meets happen, but this was especially bad timing. The Illini will have to sit with that bitter result for a little while: Theyโ€™re off this weekend, the following week is Winter Cup, and theyโ€™re off again the weekend after that. Their first meet back, on March 2, is at home against Minnesota and Stanford. It should be one of the regular seasonโ€™s most intense matchups — if Minnesota can show up and if Stanford can remember how to compete east of the Mississippi. — Alexย Wittenberg

Check out full results here.

Minnesota and UIC @ Iowa

Despite a season-best day from the Hawkeyes, Minnesota was able to escape the weekend with an all-important conference road victory thanks to their second-consecutive 406+ team score.

(via RoadToNationals.com)

“For some reason, Iowa has always been a tough place for us to compete so this was a very satisfying win for us. It was a tight meet back and forth and the lead changed hands a couple times throughout the afternoon,” Minnesota head coach, Mike Burns, told GopherSports.com. “Winning on the road in the Big Ten is never an easy thing to do so I’m proud of how these guys stuck together and how they managed the problems they ran into through the course of the afternoon and were able to bring home the victory.”

By no means was this a perfect day for the Gophers — they left Iowa City with a pair of sub-65 event scores (PH and HB) signaling plenty of room for growth.

https://twitter.com/GopherMGym/status/1092552908502126593

Among the positives was another 82 all-around score for their star, sophomore Shane Wiskus. The Minnesota native racked up four top-three event finishes, including meet-high scores on SR (13.7), PB (14.35) and HB (13.55). Other winning Gophers were freshman Eric Nakamura grabbing his first collegiate title on FX along with seniors Vitali Kan (VT) and Justin Karstadt (PH). That’s a nice combination of youth and experience showing out.

As I mentioned earlier, despite not coming out on top, Iowa had a nice showing in their first home meet. One thing that jumps out about the Hawkeyes is the success they continue to have on high bar in 2019. Iowa now ranks No. 5 in the NCAA on the event and their 66.05 on Saturday was one of the best scores of the weekend. Everyone knows how important HB is, and if the Hawkeyes can keep it up there, that’s a huge advantage for them.

Doing all six events for the third weekend in a row was Bennet Huang who has now racked up three-straight 79+ scores. That’s good enough to have him sitting at No. 16 in the NCAA rankings.

Team captain Jake Brodarzon also chipped in with a good afternoon, posting a pair of runner-up finishes on SR and VT.

The Flames of UIC took a slight step back, score-wise, from the last time they met with these teams just two weeks ago at the Windy City Invite. Sam Montague led his team with a season-high 69.9 all-around score, good enough for a top-five finish. — Logan Bradley

Check out full results from the tri-meet here.

Navy @ Army

Back in December, coaches of both Army and Navy explained to me that they had February 2 circled on the calendar. The rivalry between these two feels like something you can’t quite fully understand unless you’ve been on one of the two sides. I can tell you one thing from a pure observational standpoint: this head-to-head meet always means a lot to both teams.

This time around, the Navy Midshipmen were able to grab a very, very rare road win in a tight battle with Army.

(via RoadToNationals.com)

It truly went right down to the the last event, high bar, for both teams. As you can see, the Mids were able to overcome a slight deficit thanks a 66.9 on the event (the seventh-highest score across the NCAA on HB in 2019). Talk about stepping up, freshman Cash Buske was the eventual event winner, scoring a 13.6. To come up big in such a pressure-packed scenario says a lot about the first year gymnast.

All-in-all, there was no single star for Navy on Saturday. In fact, seven different Mids recorded at least one top-three finish. To have that type of depth speaks to the job that Kip Simons has done in recruiting and building this team.

I know it surely isn’t an adequate consolation prize, but the Army Black Knights were able to secure their highest team score of 2019 by over five points. In fact, this was Army’s highest score dating all the way back to February 4, 2017.

A few Knights chipped in on the effort, including Cole Casanova whose 80.9 was the top all-around score on the day. The senior also took home titles on VT and PB. Others securing titles were Matt Davis (FX), Matthew Martin (PH) and Taka Giese (SR). — Logan Bradley

Check out full results here.

Temple @ William & Mary

No. 15 William & Mary beat No. 20 Temple 388.5-342.65 on Saturday.

(via RoadToNationals.com)

William & Mary swept the event titles and kept close to 390, a mark they surpassed last weekend in their loss to Navy. Earning individual event titles were Cutter Fugett on floor and p-bars, Jacopo Gliozzi on pommels, David Watkins on rings, Jack Hasenkopf on vault and David Allen on high bar.

William & Mary is off until Feb. 23 when they face Army on the road.

Temple was weighed down most by their scores in the low-50s on pommels and high bar. Nicolino Dibattista, the meetโ€™s only all around competitor, placed second on floor and finished with a 72.3 in the all-around.

Temple will get another crack at it on Feb. 24 when they face William & Mary and Springfield.

GOTW (ending Mar 20, 2016)

pdf_epub

GOTW

CGA Menโ€™s NCAA GYMNASTS OF THE WEEK

Tie:
Allan Bower (Ohio State) – NCAA Division National Gymnast of the Week
Sean Melton (Ohio State) – NCAA Division National Gymnast of the Week

The NCAA and Club Division National Gymnasts of the Week are determined by a weekly poll of coaches and members of the CGA and released each Thursday after competition the previous week (see PDF for complete info).

Week ending March 20, 2015
By: Dan Ribeiro and Jerry Wright