Tag Archives: Sam Mikulak

#NCAAMGym Week 10 Recap

One month from now we’ll be talking about NCAA Championships. Maybe I sound like a broken record talking about how quick the season goes by, but it sure is true. By now, teams are rounding into form and we’re getting a better idea of what postseason lineups are going to look like. All-around gymnasts might still be fitting in one more weekend of rest, but for the most part, we’re seeing everybody at full strength.

Before we get into what happened during week ten, here’s the One Thing We Learned…

B1G Parity

At this point, you’d have a better chance at winning the Powerball than predicting who the top-five — let alone top-three — teams are going to be at the B1G Championships in Iowa City.

Sure, Illinois looks like a favorite, but would anyone really be that surprised if they weren’t atop the podium when all is said and done?

From top to bottom, the conference is producing parity that we haven’t seen in years. I could point to a variety of upsets that have happened so far this season, but none were as intriguing as Iowa taking out Michigan in Ann Arbor this weekend (see full meet breakdown further below).

At the start of the season, Michigan was seen as one of the top teams in the conference (they still are), while Iowa was seen as a team that might be fighting for top-five consideration (they’re now pushing for title consideration).

Given the ever-changing and unstable condition of NCAA men’s gymnastics, I hope everyone can fully appreciate how awesome this season has been for all teams, but especially the B1G. We’re in for a fun final month.

Illinois @ Oklahoma

Oklahoma tamed their stiffest challenger so far this season on the way to a resounding Senior Day win and a new season-high.

The Sooners beat Illinois 425.7-415.7 thanks to huge performances from Yul Moldauer, Tanner Justus (MPSF Gymnast of the Week) and really the whole vault lineup.

The Illini put up a respectable fight. After leading two rotations in, Illinois’ rings and vault sealed their fate. Although the Illini performed well on the two events, their combined score (between the two events) was 6.1 less than OU’s. Still, Illinois got the closest of any team this season to OU in Norman, and they again had a performance that put them well within the NCAA podium picture.

That’s the biggest takeaway: Illinois had another solid meeting while their main Big Ten rival, Michigan, suffered a loss at home to Iowa. It stands to reason, then, that Illinois is now the team-to-beat in the Big Ten. Their win over Stanford looks a lot more legitimate now too.

Earning titles for the Illini were Michael Paradise on horse and Alex Diab on rings. They beat OU on horse as a team, and they put up huge season-highs on floor and high bar, where they scored a 72.1 and a 70.15, respectively. That high bar season-high is over three-and-a-half points better than their previous high of 66.6.

OU hit season-highs on floor, rings, p-bars and high bar. Earning titles were Moldauer on floor, vault, p-bars and in the all around and Levi Anderson on high bar. Also noteworthy was Justus’ all-around performance and Vitaliy Guimaraes’ surprise Yurchenko 2.5. Something similarly surprising, which came to my attention this weekend, is that OU has yet to hit 70 or above on p-bars — three other teams in the NCAA have. (In fairness, OU has been less than two tenths away from 70 a few times now.)

Illinois is up against Michigan and Penn State in State College on Saturday, and Oklahoma is at Navy. — Alex Wittenberg

Check out full results here.

Air Force @ Stanford

After suffering their first loss of the season, Stanford got right back to their winning ways with a 20+ point victory over Air Force.

Stanford posted their sixth straight score of 410+ as they continue to show how consistent they are. While it is not always fair to compare scores across the country, it is worth noting that the Cardinal are now ranked No. 1 in the country on four events (FX, SR, PB, HB) after their win over Air Force. Even more impressive, this latest showing was without Brody Malone.

Bryan Perla won another floor title with his 14.70 performance. Perla has emerged as someone who will very well be in the mix for a title come April and is currently ranked No. 3 in the country on this event. He also tallied a third place finish on vault (14.15).

Along with Perla, it seems the typical event winners for Stanford did it once again.  Joey RingerPH (13.65), Josiah EngSR (14.9), Connor LewisVT (14.70), Blake SunPB (14.95) and David JessenHB (14.10). The Cardinal have a big score at the back of every lineup.

Air Force visited Stanford as part of a two meet weekend and it was definitely the highlight. Lukas Texeira, who has been awesome this year on high bar, was just edged by Jessen. Texeira’s 14.05 moved him to No. 2 in the country on the event.

Frankie Valentin had a great day tallying a third place finish on rings (14.10) to go along with fifth place finishes on pommel horse (13.20) and high bar (12.80). It was a solid day overall for the Falcons, but they would like to be closer to the 400 mark as they wrap up the season. — Ben Cooperman

Check out full results here.

Iowa @ Michigan

In the most talked about meet of the weekend, the Iowa Hawkeyes traveled to Ann Arbor to square off against No. 3 Michigan. Once the dust settled, Iowa came away with a razor-thin two-and-a-half tenth upset victory.

In speaking with Iowa head coach J.D. Reive at the beginning of the season, he made it clear that the team’s identity would be hitting cleanly. That of course means you might be sacrificing difficulty, but it seems to be working just fine. The Hawkeyes counted just three routines below a 13 — none of those three were lower than a 12.65.

They also had another key ingredient to a successful day on Saturday — a stud all-around performance. Bennet Huang led his team in a big way, securing a season-best 82.4. That performance included a meet-high 14.4 on VT.

A pair of other notable contributors for Iowa were Jake Brodarzon and Nicholas Merryman. Both competed on four events and neither of them posted anything lower than a 13.35.

The Hawkeyes had been having a stellar 2019 season prior to Saturday, but this upset should really open some eyes. If you have Iowa somewhere on your schedule the rest of the way, be careful, this isn’t the team you’re used to.

The Wolverines were winners of five events this weekend and still found themselves on the losing end in this one. When that happens it tells you two things: the meet was incredibly close and the losing side probably had to count a score in the 10-11 range. That was unfortunately the case for Michigan.

Despite the loss, I cannot say enough about how impressive Jacob Moore has been in the early stages of his NCAA career. His NCAA-high 15.3 on FX goes to show that he has not only All-American-level talent, but NCAA champion-level talent.

That was far from the only thing that Moore did on Saturday as he would go on to win the all-around with an 83.1. He added a runner-up finish on HB.

Other winners for the Wolverines were Mack Lasker on PH and Cameron Bock on SR and PB. The loss doesn’t do Michigan any favors in terms of their pursuit of a B1G regular season title, although it certainly doesn’t take them out of the running. — Logan Bradley

Check out full results here.

Minnesota/Nebraska @ Ohio State

This meet seemed all but over heading into the last event when the scoreboard shuffled leaving Minnesota on top over Ohio State and Nebraska.

Let’s get the judging out of the way first. The scoring was far better than the week before in Ohio, but it wasn’t perfect. If we can’t all agree on the execution scores of given routines, we can at least agree on difficulty scores on vault, right? Apparently not. Jake Bonnay did a nice kaz full (Start Value: 14.8) that was listed as starting from a 15.2. Justin Karstadt did a near perfect stuck (+.1) yurchenko double full (14.9 SV with the bonus) that received a 15.3 SV – much respect to the Minnesota coaching staff who requested the score be dropped four tenths. Bottom line: there is still some work to do.

After a tumultuous high bar rotation, Minnesota was down just under three points to Nebraska and more than five points to Ohio State. A stellar vault rotation to close out the meet resulted in a seven-and-a-half tenth margin of victory for the Gophers. They were led by Shane Wiskus’ (B1G Gymnast of the Week) second place vault that scored a 14.70. Karstadt’s aforementioned stuck double full sealed the deal (14.55).

Wiskus was spectacular in this one, scoring a career high 84.35 in the all-around. The peak of his performance came on high bar where he put up a clutch 14.35. Wiskus was joined by Karstadt and Shaun Herzog in the all-around.  This trio could do some serious damage come championship season.

A lack luster 63.00 high bar rotation from Ohio State was unable to catch Minnesota’s 71.85 on vault. While not the outcome they were hoping for, the second place finish showcased a steadily improving Buckeye team. Alec Yoder had they type of performance that we’ve come to expect from him, winning both pommel horse (14.70) and p-bars (14.55).

Vault was a highlight for Ohio State where they put up a season high 71.50.  They were led by Sean Neighbarger who tied with Wiskus for second place (14.70). Some of the freshman stepped up as well, including a 13.40 high bar set from Angel Leon that was good enough for third. Jesse Tyndall tied for third on floor with a 14.40.

The story for Nebraska was much the same as it was for Ohio State. Their 65.15 p-bars rotation to close out the competition left them in third place.  There were still some bright spots for the Cornhuskers. Anton Stephenson won both floor (14.60) and put up the highest score of the season on vault (15.10).

Griffin Kehler continues to show he is a top high bar guy in the country where he grabbed second place with a 13.85Evan Kriley has quietly been a rock for Nebraska in the pommel horse lineup all season; his 13.95 was good enough for a third place finish.

Minnesota left Columbus with two Big ten wins moving them to 2-2.  Ohio State picked up their second win and a loss moving them to 2-2 as well.  Nebraska now drops to 1-4. — Ben Cooperman

Check out full results here.

Cal @ Washington

In a rare Sunday evening meet, the Golden Bears of Cal traveled to Washington and defeated the Huskies by a roughly twelve point margin.

For Cal, each and every team event score represented an increase from the week prior including a season-best 70.35 on FX.

In a fashion that we’ve become accustomed to, Darren Wong paced his team with an 82.7 in the all-around. That was good enough for a title, as was his performance on PH. Having one of the best seasons that we’ve seen from a Golden Bear gymnast in recent time, the Canadian now sits at No. 4 in the NCAA all-around rankings.

While everyone loves a good all-around score, let’s not forget about the other key piece to Cal’s puzzle, Aaron Mah. Also a fellow Canadian, Mah racked up four (FX, SR, PB, HB) individual event titles — he won every event he touched, with the exception of PH.

Another well-deserved shout-out goes to All-American Kyte Crigger who posted five scores of 13.5+.

Washington said heck with the mid-370 scores en route to a season-best (by nearly seventeen points) team score. Nathan Tsuji was the star of the day giving Wong a run for his money with an 81.65. Included in his day was a share of the FX title.

Meanwhile, Jacob Jarrett was the other Huskie event winner with this yurchenko double full. — Logan Bradley

Check out full results here.

Penn State/Navy/Air Force/NorCal United @ Arizona State

Penn State coasted to a 10+ point win at Arizona State last Saturday, beating the home team as well as Air Force, Navy and NorCal United.

PSU scored a 402.1 in a meet that was judged more tightly than usual at ASU. Navy was second with a 390.2, and Arizona State was third with a 384.65.

Air Force had a poor showing and didn’t challenge any of the teams with which they’re typically rivals. A 57.7 on horse and a 60.95 on p bars were the low-lights for the Falcons.

NorCal United came in fifth with a 282.0.

Penn State had the top team score on horse, rings, p-bars and high bar. Earning titles for the Nittany Lions were Brennan Pantazis on floor, Stephen Nedoroscik on horse, Parker Clayton on rings and Sam Zakutney on p-bars and high bar.

Navy’s Lucas Beltran (ECAC Specialist of the Week) stuck his handspring double-front on vault to earn himself a title. Jordan Williams of ASU won the all around with an 80.50.

Penn State is home against Illinois and Michigan on Saturday. Navy is home against OU on Saturday, and Air Force is at Minnesota on Sunday. ASU and NorCal United are off this weekend. — Alex Wittenberg

Check out full results here.

Springfield @ Army

Competing at home, Army took care of business with an easy win over ECAC rival Springfield.

This round of “Matthew Davis vs. Cole Casanova” went to the rookie by just a hair (three tenths), with Davis putting up an 81.1. His impressive first season continued as he added another FX title, as well as one on SR. Casanova, on the other hand, was the winner on PH. At this rate, it’s possible that these two lead Army directly to an ECAC conference title.

The two other Black Knights who brought home wins for themselves were Graham Shaw on VT and Rex Scott on HB.

It certainly was not the day that Springfield envisioned. Just six days removed from their second-highest score of the season, the Pride regressed on four events, resulting in their third lowest total of the year.

Despite the rough day, things went well on PB where Jannik Haas and Stephen Lewis went 1-2, respectively, resulting in the team’s third consecutive score in the 63’s on the event. — Logan Bradley

Check out full results here.

William & Mary @ UIC

The Tribe took a trip to Chicago where they took down a surging UIC team.

William & Mary took a step back after going 390+ in three straight competitions. Their 381.60 was their second lowest score of the season. The Tribe still took five of six event titles with wins from Cutter FugettFX (13.50), David WatkinsSR (13.30), Colin LillieVT (14.30), Andrew Lyubovsky (ECAC Rookie of the Week) – PB (13.05), and David AllenHB (13.10).

UIC was unable to get the win but still showed tremendous improvement from their earlier season efforts. Their 369.25 was almost seven points higher than their previous top mark and their second straight meet of 360+.  Colin Schwartz took the pommel horse title with a 13.80 and Sam Montague took the all-around with a 74.75. — Ben Cooperman

Check out full results here.

#NCAAMGym Week 9 Power Rankings

Every week we’ll release a “Power Rankings,” aiming to provide a fluid picture of how each team across the NCAA is doing at the moment. The idea is to try not to focus too much on scores and look more at the current state of the team. The (+) or (-) next to each team’s name relates to how far they rose or fell from last week’s rankings.

This year’s power rankings are an average based off of the individual rankings of five individuals:

  • Logan Bradley (former Illinois gymnast)
  • Ben Cooperman (former Penn State gymnast)
  • Alex Wittenberg (former Minnesota gymnast)
  • Andrew Misiolek (former Stanford gymnast)
  • Jessica Frankl (CGA gymnastics expert/photographer)

To see a list of each individual’s rankings, scroll all the way to the bottom of this page.

1. Oklahoma Sooners (-)

Yul Moldauer was out in Greensboro making history while his team was at home with the weekend off. The Sooners are back home this Saturday against Illinois, who’s coming off of a huge win over Stanford and Minnesota. —Alex Wittenberg

2. Stanford Cardinal (-)

The pressure was on Stanford to perform at Illinois in their first competition of the season outside of the West Coast. It was not the result they were looking for, but coming within two points of a talented Illinois team is impressive. The Cardinal proved they are a legitimate 410+ team regardless of location. — Ben Cooperman

3. Michigan Wolverines (-)

Michigan did not compete this weekend and will need to be on their game at home against Iowa to remain ahead of a surging Illini team. — Logan Bradley

4. Illinois Fighting Illini (-)

In upsetting Stanford and beating Big Ten rival Minnesota, the Fighting Illini last Saturday showed they can take on the best of the best this season. But can they do the unthinkable and beat OU in Norman this Saturday? It isn’t likely, but even getting close would bode well for their chances against Michigan, the Illini’s biggest Big Ten rival at the moment, who put up a poor challenge to OU in Norman a few weeks ago. — Alex Wittenberg

5. Penn State Nittany Lions (+1)

Yet another up and down meet for Penn State resulted in their first Big Ten loss of the season. This defeat sets the stage for an enticing competition March 16th when Illinois and Michigan come to State College, Pennsylvania to wrap up the season. Led by Sam Zakutney, who put up another monster all-around performance this past weekend, Penn State still has a shot at the regular season trophy if they can find a way to beat the Wolverines and Fighting Illini. — Ben Cooperman

6. Minnesota Golden Gophers (-1)

We’re over halfway through the season and I still don’t have a good feel for this Minnesota team. It’s a talented bunch, no doubt. One that has B1G-winning potential. We just might learn a little bit more as the Gophers travel to the proverbial Wild Wild West of judging, Columbus, this weekend. — Logan Bradley

7. Nebraska Cornhuskers (-)

After big wins over Illinois and Minnesota, Nebraska’s momentum sputtered out against the Iowa Hawkeyes. The Huskers fell to Iowa 406.7-403.55 last Saturday. There were still highlights, though — freshman Charlie Giles, Anton Stephenson and Jake Bonnay each had a good showing. Now coming off of a loss, Nebraska faces a challenge this Friday in Columbus against Minnesota and Ohio State. Minnesota is reeling from a disappointing showing of their own, and Ohio is riding a high after having their best meet of the season by over 10 points. Every routine will matter on Friday. — Alex Wittenberg

8. Ohio State Buckeyes (+1)

The Buckeyes coming in this far down the list after becoming just the fifth team to go 413+ this season may seem puzzling. Even more shocking than that, Ohio State shattered their previous season high by over 10 points. While this team is looking more refined than earlier in the season, the misleading score they put up this past weekend was courtesy of some inexplicably lenient judging. — Ben Cooperman

9. Iowa Hawkeyes (-1)

A B1G upset and Iowa drops in the power rankings? What a cruel world. Truthfully, there is a good case to be made for Iowa leapfrogging Ohio State in these rankings, and as you can see by the the voting (see bottom of page), they’re awfully close. In reality, there’s an argument to be made that the Hawkeyes should be as high as No. 6. Very excited to see what they can do the rest of the way. — Logan Bradley

10. California Golden Bears (-)

Cal didn’t compete last weekend. The Golden Bears are up against Washington on Sunday. —Alex Wittenberg

11. Navy Midshipmen (-)

It was a busy weekend for the Mids as they traveled to both William & Mary and Springfield. The first competition went well as they broke back above the 400 mark. The second meet was a different story as they posted their worst team score of the season. Navy will look to bounce back to their winning ways as they head out to warm weather Arizona this weekend. — Ben Cooperman

12. Army Black Knights (-)

Colorado was unkind to the Black Knights last weekend, but despite that, Army still remains ahead of the Falcons in this week’s power rankings. We know full-well what Cole Casanova and Matthew Davis can do…what about the rest of the team? If those two can get some support, Army will easily find themselves competing as a team at NCAA’s. — Logan Bradley

13. Air Force Falcons (-)

Air Force had a big upset over Army last Saturday, taking down the Black Knights 394.25-389.95. They get to go against another military rival this Saturday, when they’re set to face Navy, Nor Cal United, Penn State and Arizona State in Tempe. — Alex Wittenberg

14. William & Mary Tribe (+1)

The Tribe has been on a stellar run resulting in a jump over a talented Sun Devil team. William & Mary will head to the Windy City this weekend as they look to continue their 390+ streak. — Ben Cooperman

15. Arizona State Sun Devils (-1)

Arizona State was off last weekend but will pick things back up on Saturday with a big home meet against Penn State, Navy, Air Force and NorCal United. — Logan Bradley

16. Springfield Pride (-)

Springfield suffered a tough-fought loss to Navy on Sunday. Highlights for the No. 16 team included Stephen Lewis’s all-around performance and the team’s showing on rings and p-bars. Springfield will face Army in West Point on Saturday. — Alex Wittenberg

17. Washington Huskies (-)

Washington did not compete last weekend and will be facing Cal in their second and final home competition of the year this Sunday. — Ben Cooperman

18. UIC Flames (-)

UIC didn’t compete last weekend but will welcome ECAC rival, William & Mary, to Chicago on Sunday. — Logan Bradley

#NCAAMGym Week 8 Power Rankings

Every week we’ll release a “Power Rankings,” aiming to provide a fluid picture of how each team across the NCAA is doing at the moment. The idea is to try not to focus too much on scores and look more at the current state of the team. The (+) or (-) next to each team’s name relates to how far they rose or fell from last week’s rankings.

This week’s power rankings are an average based off of the individual rankings of three individuals:

  • Logan Bradley (former Illinois gymnast)
  • Ben Cooperman (former Penn State gymnast)
  • Alex Wittenberg (former Minnesota gymnast)
  • Andrew Misiolek (former Stanford gymnast)

To see a list of each individual’s rankings, scroll all the way to the bottom of this page.

1. Oklahoma Sooners (-)

Let’s see…how do I sum up the Oklahoma Sooners…Yul Moldauer. 88.3. I could easily stop there, but gymnastics is a team sport, and the senior has a great supporting cast who is performing very well. — Logan Bradley

2. Stanford Cardinal (-)

Stanford again did that thing where they beat Cal in a dual meet. Snark aside, the Cardinal was impressive and again just a hair away from 420. The real story is this coming weekend’s matchup, which we’ve been eagerly awaiting: Stanford will go against Illinois and Minnesota in Champaign on Saturday. It’ll be the first true look at how competitive the team is. — Alex Wittenberg

3. Michigan Wolverines (-)

A solid performance in Norman made it clear that this team does not quite have the ability to catch the OU juggernaut. It did confirm, however, that Michigan is the team to beat in the Big Ten. The Wolverines could very well win both a Big Ten regular season and tournament title, it is just a matter of execution. — Ben Cooperman

4. Illinois Fighting Illini (+1)

Just how good is this Illinois team? Are they the team who put up a 410+ in a defeat of a B1G foe in late-January? Or are they the roughly 400 team we saw in a loss at Nebraska. We’ll find out this weekend as they’ve got a BIG test with Stanford and Minnesota coming to town. — Logan Bradley

5. Minnesota Golden Gophers (-1)

Minnesota had a disappointing loss to Nebraska last weekend and faces a huge challenge this weekend: beating Illinois in Champaign. The Gophers and the Illini will be battling with a Big Ten regular season title on the line, and the outcome of the meet will lend some insight into how the Big Ten championships will play out later this season. The Gophers need solid performances from Shane Wiskus, Shaun Herzog and Vitali Kan to get a win. — Alex Wittenberg

6. Penn State Nittany Lions (-)

Penn State’s decisive win against Navy and Air Force did not tell us much that we do not already know about this team. Backed by Stephen Nedoroscik, they have likely the strongest pommel horse team in the country. The same goes for rings where Isaac Hammett has made a name for himself. What about the other four events? The question of “how good will be Penn State be when they hit?” is slowly turning into “is Penn State capable of hitting?” — Ben Cooperman

7. Nebraska Cornhuskers (-)

Defending their home turf and taking down a B1G rival? That’s great. Continuing a downward trend on pommel horse? That’s not great. The Huskers’ team score on that event has decreased by over a point with every passing meet in 2019. They must right the ship. — Logan Bradley

8. Iowa Hawkeyes (-)

Iowa didn’t compete last weekend. They’re at home against Nebraska this Saturday, and an upset is far from out of the question. — Alex Wittenberg

9. Ohio State Buckeyes (+2)

Ohio State did not compete this weekend and will face off against Penn State in a Big Ten regular season match up this weekend. — Ben Cooperman

10. California Golden Bears (-)

By this point in the season it seems that we know what type of team Cal is. They’ve got a high floor (meaning you’re not going to see them bottom out in any particular meet), but a somewhat low ceiling (meaning their potential might not be quite as high as other teams ranked similarly). — Logan Bradley

11. Navy Midshipmen (-2)

Navy’s prospects this season took a hit last weekend, after dropping almost 15 points from their season-high performance two weeks prior. All that means is this weekend’s meet at William & Mary is extra important: Navy needs a resounding recovery to put themselves back on solid ground. Bad meets happen, but last weekend was troubling. — Alex Wittenberg

12. Army Black Knights (-)

The Black Knights have looked awesome this year backed by the freshman-senior duo of Matt Davis and Cole Casanova. Army put up yet another score of 395+ this past weekend and are sitting nicely in line for an NCAA Championship bid. — Ben Cooperman

13. Air Force Falcons (-)

Air Force seems to have flown (no, I don’t mean to make this a bad pun) a little bit under the radar in 2019 but is just 1.3 behind Ohio State in terms of three-score average. It’s probably because there’s no single standout gymnast to point to, rather a team full of individuals with no glaring weakness. Don’t count them out of the race for a spot at NCAA’s. — Logan Bradley

14. Arizona State Sun Devils (-)

ASU came out on top at the Sun Devil Classic last Saturday. But the team was still well below their season high of 395.9. They’re off this weekend, and that should give the team some time to recharge and focus on getting back into the mid-390 range. — Alex Wittenberg

15. William & Mary Tribe (-)

It was strange to see two meets in one weekend penciled into the Tribe’s schedule, but apparently it was the right move. William & Mary put up back-to-back season highs on their action packed road trip. — Ben Cooperman

16. Springfield Pride (-)

It’s been a bit of trying season thus far for Springfield. After ending January with a mid-380 score, the Pride has seen a significant dip in production on pommel horse and rings. Five-up-five-count is never easy on any event — though PH could continue proving especially tricky for this young team. — Logan Bradley

17. Washington Huskies (-)

Washington stayed in the mid-370s in their loss to ASU. The team was again weighed down by pommels and high bar. Washington is off this weekend and faces Cal on March 10. — Alex Wittenberg

18. UIC Flames (-)

The Flames broke the 360 mark for the first time this year in their last outing despite a disastrous pommel horse rotation. If they can clean things up on that event, they could be within striking distance of the 370 mark. — Ben Cooperman