Tag Archives: Sooners

#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 Modi’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 team’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 – 14.300, VT – 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 – 14.600 and VT – 14.750). The emergence of Cole as an all-around threat could be what really tips the scale in Michigan’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 one’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)

Nebraska’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 didn’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 — their 62.8 was a season-low by over a point, and it was more than two points behind Nebraska’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 — save for p-bars — 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 — 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 team’s horse lineup with a 14.95, which was the meet’s top score by 1.4. Alex Diab’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: They’re off this weekend, the following week is Winter Cup, and they’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 season’s most intense matchups — if Minnesota can show up and if Stanford can remember how to compete east of the Mississippi. — Alex 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 meet’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.

#NCAAMGym Week 4 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 (-)

It took until Feb. 24 last year for Oklahoma to break the 420-mark. This season it happened on Jan. 26, nearly a month earlier. Yul Moldauer has yet to compete more than four events in a single meet. Translation: they’re probably only going to get better. — Logan Bradley

2. Stanford Cardinal (-)

Stanford’s 417.8 was a 10+ point improvement from the week prior, and it put the team in spitting distance of the coveted 420. Still, it’s a stretch to say that Stanford is anything but second-best, and the fact that they don’t face an opponent who can legitimately challenge them until March 2 makes assessing the team’s potential particularly difficult. That said, these no-pressure meets are great for a team’s confidence. Perhaps Stanford can use another relatively easy meet this weekend to make a bigger statement. Now would be the time, too; defeating Illinois will be no walk in the park for OU. — Alex Wittenberg

3. Illinois Fighting Illini (-)

The good news from last weekend: Hamish Carter made his collegiate debut and looks to be ready to make a positive impact on a number of events for the Illinois. The bad news from last weekend: Danny Graham suffered a season-ending injury in warm-ups. The junior ring-man looked significantly improved from last year, making it a serious blow to the Illini SR lineup. — Logan Bradley

4. Michigan Wolverines (-)

The “MGymDynasty” hashtag has been used desperately out of place over the past few years. With OU taking the last four NCAA Championships and a win streak of over 100 and counting, I don’t think there’s any doubt whose world we are living in. But maybe Cameron Bock and the 2019 Michigan Wolverines are here to bring the program back into the light.  Their statement win on Saturday certainly showed they are capable. — Ben Cooperman

5. Penn State Nittany Lions (+1)

Penn State put up another impressive performance in their defeat of Nebraska last weekend — their 409.7 kept them in the cohort of the top teams in the Big Ten. But the Nittany Lions are off this weekend, and they don’t face another Big Ten rival until March 2. So we’ll have to wait a bit to see how PSU handles tougher competition. — Alex Wittenberg

6. Minnesota Golden Gophers (+1)

The Gophers have been solid this year, but they kicked it up a notch with their latest showing. Minnesota posted a season-high 408.300 behind Shaun Herzog’s electric vaultShane Wiskus quietly put up an 82.900 this weekend that got lost in some of the other big all-around scores. If Wiskus can continue to get closer to his potential, this team will go as far as he takes them. — Ben Cooperman

7. Nebraska Cornhuskers (-2)

Nebraska’s 395.0 at Penn State was the lowest team score for the Huskers over the last three seasons. We don’t need to make any knee-jerk assumptions based off a single meet, but usually a team will go one of two directions following a disappointing weekend. We’ll see just how mentally tough this team is with Oklahoma and Illinois coming to town on Saturday. — Logan Bradley

8. Iowa Hawkeyes (+2)

The Hawkeyes had a lot of doubters coming into this season, but they have outperformed expectations thus far. Iowa took on Illinois this weekend in a tough competitive environment and still managed to best their previous performance by five points. Evan Davis and Bennet Huang will be a powerful duo for the rest of the season and beyond. — Ben Cooperman

9. Ohio State Buckeyes (-1)

Ohio State had another disappointing showing in their meet against OU last weekend. Competing in Norman is no easy task, but the Buckeyes’ 395.4 was far behind the top Big Ten teams’ weekend scores. OSU will need to conjure up some strength they haven’t yet possessed to put up a fight against a Michigan team rallying from a huge win against Minnesota. OSU needs to prove this weekend that they’re still a serious contender. — Alex Wittenberg

10. California Golden Bears (-1)

It was another solid one for Cal last Sunday against Stanford. The Golden Bears scored a 395.4 to keep consistent with where they’ve been so far this season. However, Cal is a team who can hit 400. Bump up pommels and high bar a couple points each, and that benchmark is tangible. Cal will go against Stanford, Arizona State and Washington in the Pac-12 Invitational this weekend. Let’s see if they can further channel the team’s electricity into a season-high performance. — Alex Wittenberg

11. Navy Midshipmen (-)

  • FX/PH/SR/VT average: 67.4
  • PB/HB average: 62.325

Those averages are from Navy’s meet against William & Mary last weekend. It’s no secret you’re going to get higher scores on events like FX, SR and VT, but those averages need to even out a bit more for Navy to be competitive with team’s consistently ranked No. 1-10. — Logan Bradley

12. Army Black Knights (-)

A 395 with just one event from their second-best all-arounder (Matt Davis) is a great sign for an Army team that seems to be making strides in 2019. The area of concern remains parallel bars for the Black Knights — their 63.633 average ranks No. 14 in the NCAA. — Logan Bradley

13. Air Force Falcons (-)

It was a bye weekend for the Falcons who will remain dark until the always-important All-Academy Championships on February 9. — Logan Bradley

14. Arizona State Sun Devils (-)

Arizona State didn’t compete last weekend, but they face off against Cal, Stanford and Washington in the Pac-12 Invitational this weekend. The Sun Devils could put some legitimate pressure on Cal; they’ve only been about three points behind the Bears in their last two meets. A tussle between those two would be mutually beneficial: Cal needs a real opponent because they can’t touch Stanford, and ASU needs an underdog story. — Alex Wittenberg

15. William & Mary Tribe (-)

A lot of awesome news has been popping up for William & Mary lately.  David Watkins has been quite the storyline this year with his No. 3 ranking in the country on rings. Jacopo Gliozzi had a tremendous performance this past weekend and it was announced he will receive the Thomas Jefferson Prize in Natural Philosophy. Advancements in theoretical physics will have to wait as Gliozzi and the Tribe continue to impress on the competition floor. — Ben Cooperman

16. Springfield Pride (-)

It was a nice weekend for Springfield who was forced to count only three scores below a 12.0. With the exception of floor, they really hung with Army, even defeating the Black Knights on PH, SR and PB. If they can follow up this performance with something similar on Feb. 10 in Chicago, a top-three ECAC finish will be well within sight. — Logan Bradley

17. Washington Huskies (-)

Washington didn’t compete last weekend. They’re going against Stanford, Cal and Arizona State this weekend at the Pac-12 Invitational. Washington is looking to improve on their somewhat disappointing performance at the Windy City Invitational — their 370.15 was about six points less than what they put up in their season opener. — Alex Wittenberg

18. UIC Flames (-)

The Flames did not compete this weekend and will take on Iowa and Minnesota in their next matchup. — Ben Cooperman

#NCAAMGym Week 3 Power Rankings

Every week we’ll be releasing a “Power Rankings” which aim 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 power 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 (-)

There is no question that Yul Moldauer is the best gymnast on Oklahoma, or in the NCAA for that matter. Despite the apparent resting of their top performer, OU has been able to remain dominant. Their depth has allowed for a new regular season MVP to emerge: Genki Suzuki.  His transformation from mostly competing as a pommel horse specialist to an all-around stud has been astounding. As long as Moldauer remains out of the all-around, it’s Suzuki who paces No. 1 Oklahoma. — Ben Cooperman

2. Stanford Cardinal (-)

Stanford again performed well enough to give legitimacy to the claim that they’re OU’s top contender — although their 406.3 was a far cry from the Sooners’ 418.55. Stanford needs to be hitting consistently above 410 to remain relevant in the NCAA-upset conversation. Better showings on pommels and high bar will help get them there. — Alex Wittenberg

3. Illinois Fighting Illini (-)

There has been a lot of talk about freshmen this season, a conversation that should be started with Illinois. After Michael Fletcher shined in week two, it was Clay Stephens showing out in week three. It is quite possible that Hamish Carter jumps into the conversation as well. The Fighting Illini could have three gymnasts in the conversation for freshman of the year – that’s scary. — Ben Cooperman

4. Michigan Wolverines (+1)

We finally got to see what to expect from Michigan last Saturday, and the takeaway was still somewhat uncertain. While star sophomore Cameron Bock shone, freshman Kevin Penev stumbled. Still, Michigan was right on Illinois’ heels, and if Penev can clean it up, they could be quite good. We’ll know a lot more about the team after seeing how they fare against Minnesota this weekend, in each team’s first Big Ten regular-season championships face-off. — Alex Wittenberg

5. Nebraska Cornhuskers (+2)

Nebraska didn’t compete in week three but will open up their B1G slate this weekend on the road against Penn State.

6. Penn State Nittany Lions (-2)

Was this week’s issues on PB (60.9) and HB (61.35) the result of an off afternoon, or does it signal a deeper problem for the Nittany Lions? That remains to be seen, but meltdowns aren’t going to fly once Penn State dives into its conference slate, starting this weekend. — Logan Bradley

7. Minnesota Golden Gophers (-1)

What Minnesota has done so far this year is a testament to how far their program has come. After a second place NCAA finish, the Gophers still look hungry even after losing an outstanding group of seniors. Still, the Gophers won’t truly reach their full potential unless they can shake early season struggles on pommel horse and rings. — Ben Cooperman

8. Ohio State Buckeyes (-)

Ohio State didn’t compete last weekend, but the Buckeyes are looking to improve upon their performance at the Rocky Mountain Open, where they were beat by conference foes Nebraska and Minnesota. They face OU in Norman this weekend, an especially tough atmosphere in which to compete. How Ohio manages that challenge will lend insight into how they’ll make out this season. — Alex Wittenberg

9. California Golden Bears (+2)

Darren Wong and Aaron Mah led Cal to a solid Week 3 showing that was an improvement over Week 2. But Cal was still about four points away from 400. A big question this season will be whether Cal can consistently hit 400+ and secure themselves in the top 10. — Alex Wittenberg

10. Iowa Hawkeyes (-1)

The Hawkeyes made their debut this past weekend with a fourth place finish in Chicago. The bright spot for them came on high bar where they posted a 66.550, good enough for the current No. 3 spot in the country. Iowa will head back to the state of Illinois to take on the Fighting Illini this coming weekend. — Ben Cooperman

11. Navy Midshipmen (-1)

It took Navy until Feb. 3 to reach the 400-point mark in 2018. In 2019? Jan. 19. Granted, it’s early, but the Midshipmen look like they’ll have a strong grip on the ECAC this season. There’s room to grow, too. As a team they’ve averaged just a 63.375 on PB through two weeks of competition. — Logan Bradley

12. Army Black Knights (+1)

It’s clear that Army is an improved team. If I’m the Black Knights, I’m happy having ended last week’s competition within six points of Penn State. It should be a lot of fun watching freshman Matt Davis grow this season and learn alongside fellow all-arounder, and senior, Cole Casanova. — Logan Bradley

13. Air Force Falcons (+1)

The deeper NCAA field does not bode well for Air Force.  The Falcons have been a consistent top-12 team for several years.  With the reemergence of Army, this team is going to be in a tough race to stamp their ticket to the NCAA Championships in April. — Ben Cooperman

14. Arizona State Sun Devils (-2)

ASU notched a 392.5 in Week 3, which wasn’t good enough to beat Air Force. Kiwan Watts had another good day, however, putting up an all-around score of 82.25. Arizona State is a legitimate competitor, and if they can overcome some struggles, like last week’s pommels, they could inch closer to 395. — Alex Wittenberg

15. William & Mary Tribe (-)

The Tribe has a high bar problem and it was evident this past weekend when they lost nearly nine points to Navy on the single event alone. One William & Mary gymnast enjoying a nice early part of the year is David Watkins. The senior is No. 4 nationally on SR based off average score. — Logan Bradley

16. Springfield Pride (-)

The Pride showed great improvement last week at the Navy Open and were able to continue to develop their young team. Springfield has their first home meet this coming weekend against Army where they will look to continue the positive trend. — Ben Cooperman

17. Washington Huskies (-)

Washington scored a 370.15 at Windy City last Saturday to beat UIC. It’s becoming an old refrain here, but Washington struggled severely on pommels, scoring a 55.45. Washington should focus on getting pommels and high bar above 60 and continue nourishing Nathan Tsuji to jump up in the rankings. — Alex Wittenberg

18. UIC Flames (-)

The Flames are obviously reeling from losing valuable gymnasts to transfer, but they’ve still got young gymnasts stepping up. Xan Weaver and Sam Montague (freshman and sophomore, respectively) both cracked the top-20 in the all-around at the Windy City Invite. — Logan Bradley

#NCAAMGym Week 3 Recap

We’re off and running with the 2019 #NCAAMGym campaign and so far, it’s a great one. This weekend featured a massive 418.55 from Oklahoma and a plethora of other highly-contested meets.

Before we get to the individual recaps, here’s One Thing We Learned from the week.

The NCAA Field Is Deep

During the 2018 season, it felt like there was a very obvious drop-off in talent once you got outside of the top eight or ten teams. This season, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Two teams that this has a lot to do with is Cal and Army. Both seem to have stepped their game up a lot in 2019 thanks to an influx of young, legitimate talent. Still, it’s not just those two. Plenty of other teams outside of the top-eight seem determined to make a statement. This is only good news for gymnastics fans as it should only make the fight for those twelve NCAA spots more interesting.

Another point that stems from this argument that the field feels deeper is that this year’s freshman class is a great one. It feels as though each team is trotting our one or two freshman who are already significantly important to their squad’s success. Props to you, class of 2019.

Air Force/Arizona State @ Oklahoma

The winners of the last four NCAA championships kicked off their home opener in true Oklahoma fashion, notching the top score in the country while besting Stanford’s previous mark by a healthy seven points.

(via RoadToNationals.com)

OU started on the floor exercise where they put up monster numbers.  Vitaliy Guimaraes (14.450), Gage Dyer (14.350) and Tanner Justus (14.300) took home the top three scores in the meet. They combined for a 43.100, a number that would have put them in second place on floor at the 2018 World Championships. This was of course without the reigning NCAA floor champion, Yul Moldauer.

Speaking of Moldauer, he only competed one event in this one, posting a 15.100 on rings to take the title. It says something that Oklahoma is able do all of this without their MVP on five events. Regardless, the Sooners made splashes on vault (73.000), rings (71.200) and high bar (68.450), as well as the aforementioned floor exercise (71.100).

Pommel horse is shaping up to be a slight weakness for Oklahoma. Genki Suzuki (NCAA Gymnast of the Week) won the title with a 13.700, a score that’s a far cry from some of the other numbers this team is flashing. The 66.350 from Saturday could be misleading given the absence of Moldauer.

Air Force improved upon last week’s performance by over 12 points to take second place in Norman. A tweet from Mark Williams tells us that the Falcons hit an impressive 35 of 36 routines.

It is even more astounding that their performance came this early in the season. Contributions came from all over the roster.

The big story for Air Force so far this season is what they have gotten from Lukas Texeira on high bar. Texeira earned a share of the title again this week with his 14.100. The senior has already made me look silly for leaving his name off the list of high bar contenders.

Arizona State finished in third place, just shy of their season-high tally.  Kiwan Watts (GymACT Gymnast of the Week)led the way for the Sun Devils with a huge 82.250 all-around score. Watts also tied for second place on parallel bars with a 13.850.  Jordan Williams chipped in with a nice high bar performance taking fourth place (13.800). Arizona State is really starting to make some waves this season. — Ben Cooperman

See full results here.

The Stanford Open

It wasn’t quite the 411 from week two, but the Stanford Cardinal was still able to come out of this weekend with a comfortable 10+ point victory at the Stanford Open.

(via RoadToNationals.com)

Stanford has always been known as a great FX/VT team, but they might be taking it a step further this season. At the moment, it looks like they may be the only team capable of staying with OU on those two events.

Leading the charge for the Cardinal this week was Bryan Perla taking home the FX title, followed by his teammate, Bailey Perez. Perla wasn’t a big name coming out of the J.O. program, but certainly many are taking notice of him now.

As for VT, it was freshman Brody Malone taking the title, followed closely (just .05) by Connor Lewis. The other Stanford event winners were Grant Breckenridge on PB and Thomas Lee on SR (tie).

If there’s one event Stanford will have to figure out, it’s PH. For the second week in a row they failed to reach 65 as a team or record a single score higher than 13.65.

Cal, the runner-up, has to have plenty to like about their 3.4-point increase in scoring from week one. It is confirmed: the Golden Bears have a star-in-the-making with freshman Darren Wong(NCAA Rookie of the Week). Against a highly-competitive field, Wong took the all-around title (81.0) by over a point. He also finished on top of the PH podium. The sample size is small, but Wong should be vying for all-around All-America honors when NCAA’s roll around.

Other Golden Bear winners were Harrison Plate (SR) and Aaron Mah (HB). — Logan Bradley

See full results here.

Windy City Invite

On Saturday night in Chicago the Fighting Illini won the Windy City Invitational for the fifth-straight year, persevering through the early-season turbulence that dogged their rivals.

The No. 4 Illini scored a 403.15 to come out ahead of Michigan and Minnesota, who rounded out the top three. Illinois also earned four individual event titles: freshman Clay Stephens (B1G Freshman of the Week) won floor and tied for first on vault, junior Michael Paradise won pommels, and senior Alex Diab won rings.

No. 5 Michigan placed second with a 402.0 to kick off their season. Sophomore Cameron Bock (B1G Gymnast of the Week) won the all-around title, junior Mitchell Brown won parallel bars and Justin Hopgood won high bar. The Wolverines will face rival Minnesota in Minneapolis next weekend in both teams’ first Big Ten regular season championship matchup.

No. 7 Minnesota scored a 399.8, which was good enough for third. Senior Vitali Kan tied for the vault title, and senior Shaun Herzog placed second in the all around. Minnesota, in keeping with tradition, was bedeviled by pommel horse, where their 62.8 changed the tone of their night after a relatively strong start on high bar and floor.

The No. 10 Iowa Hawkeyes placed fourth with a 394.8. The Hawkeyes displayed a fresh energy and looked especially poised on high bar, where they were just narrowly edged out by the Illini for the highest team score of the meet on the event.

No. 17 Washington and No. 18 UIC placed fifth and sixth, respectively. Washington’s Nathan Tsuji tied for seventh on floor. UIC was composed and energetic competing at home, but there was some gloom hanging over the arena — this could have very well been the last Windy City.

The Windy City Invitational is often seen as a window into how the Big Ten season will take shape. On the one hand, this year was no different: Illinois again looks to be the best team in the conference. On the other hand, the meet was without Ohio State and Nebraska, and though there’s always pressure to separate oneself early among conference competitors, the tenor of the regular season will markedly shift next week, when a Big Ten title is at stake. Because this meet had no bearing on the Big Ten regular-season championship, its importance pales in comparison to the regular-season matchups in the coming weeks.

There is the possibility, of course, that the team who wins the regular-season championship will be different from the team who wins the real one. But the point is that the Windy City this year wasn’t the litmus test for the Big Ten standings like it’s often viewed to be. We’ll instead learn a lot more about the nature of each team — under pressure, on the road, against conference foes — in the coming weeks, when a championship is on the line. — Alex Wittenberg

See full results here.

Navy Open

Navy made a statement this weekend, taking home the Navy Open title in their own MacDonough Hall in Annapolis, Maryland. More importantly, they broke the 400-point barrier, a feat they accomplished just four times last year.

(via RoadToNationals.com)

Despite being a young team, it has been junior Lucas Beltran who has emerged as the early season MVP for the Midshipmen. Beltran took home first place finishes on two events (FX – 14.100, VT – 14.700) as well as a third place finish (SR – 13.850). Josh Williams built on his debut performance competing three events once again and grabbing a second place finish on rings (14.100).

Navy showed that they can be great on high bar, an event that has not been kind to many teams this year. Their 65.800 was good enough for fifth place in the country this week. Of the five scores that counted, there was only a six tenth spread between the low and the high (12.900-13.500).  The ability to avoid a disastrous score was the key for Navy. The Midshipmen took the top five scores on the event and were led by freshman Cash Buske (13.500).

Another interesting note from this one is how Kip Simons spread the workload amongst his team. Not a single gymnast competed on more than three events for Navy. This strategy could pay dividends in the long term, keeping everyone fresh over the long NCAA season.

The battle for second place was a great one as William & Mary prevailed over Springfield by a mere 1.25 points. David Watkins had a tremendous performance on still rings once again, taking the title with a 14.350.  If he can stay great on this event, he will have a shot at All-American honors representing the Tribe. Jacopo Gliozzi joined his teammate in earning a Navy Open title with a tie on pommel horse (13.500)Tomas Palma also showed improvement taking a sixth place finish on floor (13.200).

Despite the narrow loss, Springfield had a very encouraging performance.  The Pride were able to top their previous performance by 6.4 points.  After losing six seniors and 20 routines from last year, the upward trajectory is a great sign for what is to come for this young team. Head Coach Matt Davis said after the competition, “all of these early meets are gaining experience for the freshman and even some of the sophomores…coming in, we have the goal of not worrying about the other teams and if we do the little things right, good stuff will happen…for us it was very encouraging.”

Stephen Lewis had another great performance, taking home the all-around title with a 77.800. Trevor Lamberton also joined him in the all-around grabbing third place with a 74.350 – a 2.15 point improvement from his previous performance.

Lucas Wilcox was not initially in the lineups, but found himself having to go after some injuries during warm-up. Wilcox stepped up big for the Pride, scoring a 12.900 on vault to keep his team on their way to a season high 378.650.

Temple was able to improve on their opening performance by almost 50 points. This was a result of stacking full lineups, something they were not able to do at the West Point Open. It was great to see the Owls fill out a full team and set a new high water mark for their 2019 season. Temple was led by Nicolino Dibattista who took a second place in the all-around with a 75.050. — Ben Cooperman

See full results here.

Penn State @ Army

Despite some big-time struggles on a pair of events, Penn State was still able to pull out a victory out at West Point this weekend.

(via RoadToNationals.com)

One quick look at those scores will tell the full tale of how the Nittany Lions’ day went. Following the day’s first four events (FX, PH, SR and VT), Penn State was on pace for a white-hot 411.35.

Then PB and HB happened. PSU was forced to count scores of 10.25 on PB along with an 11.0 and 11.45 on HB. I don’t need to explain why this is not good in a five-up-five-count scenario.

Still, team scores of 69.6 on FX and 68.8 on SR should instill some confidence. Sam Zakutney was the team leader, and event title winner, on FX with a 14.4 while the Nittany Lions swept the top-three spots on SR with Greg Tamargo, Isaac Hammett and Parker Clayton all going 13.85+.

Other Penn State event winners were Stephen Nedoroscik on PH, Brady Yamamoto/Brayden Borromeo on VT and Favian Valdez on HB.

Though Army lost, they’ve got to be proud of how they competed. The Black Knights were able to take two team event titles (PB and HB). Breakout performance of the week undoubtedly goes to freshman Matt Davis. Davis earned his first-ever all-around title with an 80.15 that included top-three finishes on FX, PB and HB. He and Cole Casanova (PB event winner) form a high-quality one-two punch for Army. — Logan Bradley

See full results here.