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#NCAAMGym Week 10 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 (-)

The Sooners wrapped up their 2019 home slate this past weekend and honored their seniors who competed for the final time in McCasland Field House. What made the send-off out of the ordinary was that this class has never lost a meet in their careers as Sooners. The Oklahoma seniors will wrap up their season trying to finish what they started. The only thing standing in the way: a hungry Stanford team and a powerful Big Ten Conference. While they are far and away the favorites, OU is going to have to bring their A game to keep the streak alive into 2020. — Ben Cooperman

2. Illinois Fighting Illini (+2)

Coming off an upset win over Stanford, Illinois again impressed against OU in Norman. Although they were beat by 10 points, the Illini looked as solid as they did at home the week before. That provided a glimpse into the Illini’s postseason potential — where other teams have stumbled against big opponents, Illinois has remained composed. They’ll be tested again this weekend during a Big Ten battle against Michigan and Penn State. They’re the favorite, but as we’ve seen this season, it’s anyone’s game. — Alex Wittenberg

3. Stanford Cardinal (-1)

For the first time all season, Stanford has relinquished their No. 2 position in the power rankings. They don’t fall far — just one spot — but I remain eager to see them at NCAA Championships. Interestingly enough, the Cardinal ranks No. 1 on more events than any team in the country: floor exercise, still rings, parallel bars and high bar. — Logan Bradley

4. Michigan Wolverines (-1)

The Wolverines’ loss this past weekend to the Hawkeyes said more about Iowa’s persistence than it did Michigan’s ability. While this defeat certainly does not help them in their pursuit of a regular season championship, they are still one of the best teams in the country. Michigan will face a big test this weekend as they head to Pennsylvania to take on Penn State and Illinois. — Ben Cooperman

5. Minnesota Golden Gophers (+1)

Minnesota had a big last-minute victory over Ohio State last weekend — a much-needed show of strength for the Gophers, who have had ups and downs this season. Minnesota is one of the teams who’s been hard to place in the rankings, but what’s been evident is that when Shane Wiskus is on, his team is noticeably more formidable. The Gophers are home this weekend against Air Force. That meet won’t tell us much, but we will gain some insight into the status of Minnesota’s rivals. — Alex Wittenberg

6. Penn State Nittany Lions (-1)

Penn State has been somewhat inconsistent this season. From a 395 to a 410 to a 402 within one month — they can be hard to peg. One thing that isn’t hard to notice is their No. 1 ranking on PH. If you want to key in on teams that attain postseason success, it’s those that can hit on the hardest (maybe I’m biased) event. — Logan Bradley

7. Iowa Hawkeyes (+2)

After spending the entire season being looked down upon, Iowa made a huge statement taking out a strong Michigan team in the biggest upset of the year. In hindsight, should we really have been that surprised? The Hawkeyes have been arguably the most consistent team in the Big Ten this year and feature a standout all-arounder in Bennet Huang. In a season where it seems anyone has a shot to lift the Big Ten trophy in April, why can’t it be them? — Ben Cooperman

8. Nebraska Cornhuskers (-1)

Nebraska came away from last weekend’s Big Ten matchup against Minnesota and Ohio State in last place, dropping to a 1-4 record in the Big Ten. Anton Stephenson continued to shine, but meager performances on pommels and p-bars put the Huskers out of contention. Nebraska has this weekend off. — Alex Wittenberg

9. Ohio State Buckeyes (-1)

You can see Ohio State’s confidence building. Their average over the last two competitions (409.35) has been vastly different than that of their first three (398.9). Now, it will remain to be seen as to whether it’s been a matter of competing in the comforts of their own home, or if this young team really has turned a legitimate corner. See how nicely I set up their road date with a surging Iowa team this weekend? — Logan Bradley

10. California Golden Bears (-)

The Bears took a trip up north to take on a surging Washington team and were able to earn a season high 405.50. The Darren WongAaron Mah duo has arguably the biggest impact of any two guys on a single team outside of maybe Army’s tandem of Cole Casanova and Matt Davis. The Bears will have the week off as they rest in preparation to host Oklahoma and UIC on March 23r. — Ben Cooperman

11. Navy Midshipmen (-)

Navy placed second in a five-way meet at Arizona State last weekend. Their 390.2, though, made for Navy’s second consecutive weekend with disappointing results — after peaking at 408.5 in early February, Navy hasn’t hit above 400 again. The Midshipmen are home against OU this weekend. They won’t be aiming to win, but they can use the meet to get themselves back above that 400 mark. — Alex Wittenberg

12. Army Black Knights (-)

It’s becoming crunch-time for the Black Knights. Sitting right on the bubble of an NCAA Championship berth as a team, Army stepped up with a 395 at home against Springfield. As we’ve mentioned numerous times, much of their success at this point is going to fall onto the shoulders of Cole Casanova and Matt Davis. Davis, a rookie, has no doubt been the ECAC’s top freshman in 2019 as well as one of the best in the country, regardless of conference. — Logan Bradley

13. Air Force Falcons (-)

The Falcons’ weekend was a mixed bag, scoring a 392.50 at Stanford and a 377.25 at Arizona State. Regardless of this past weekend’s outcomes, Air Force will have to come out swinging in their final competitions of the year to earn a coveted spot at NCAA Championships. — Ben Cooperman

14. Arizona State Sun Devils (+1)

Arizona State placed third in their five-way meet at home last weekend, but their story is similar to Navy’s — they’re not scoring as well as they were earlier in the season. ASU needs to focus on getting back above 390. They’ll have to wait until the big show, though — they’re off until USAG Nationals on March 29. — Alex Wittenberg

15. William & Mary Tribe (-1)

Though it was a win, WK10 represented a large step back for William & Mary after three-straight weeks of 391+ gymnastics. They’re primed for a bounce-back this weekend with a golden opportunity at home against ECAC foes Springfield, Army and Temple. — Logan Bradley

16. Washington Huskies (+1)

After posting a season high 393.30, Washington jumps a spot moving to No. 16. They will take a week off before facing Air Force on March 23, as they look to build on their success. —Ben Cooperman

17. Springfield Pride (-1)

Springfield didn’t give Army too much trouble last weekend, falling to the Black Knights 395.35-373.3 in West Point. As is the story for a few other teams, Springfield hasn’t been able to keep up with the success they showed earlier this season, when they were above 380. They have another chance to get back in that range this weekend — they’re squaring off against Army, Temple and William & Mary in Williamsburg on Saturday. — Alex Wittenberg

18. UIC Flames (-)

The Flames took a big step forward this week, just barely missing out on their first 370 of the season. Probably the biggest difference-maker in their success? Pommel horse. UIC put together their first score (61.7) of 58+ this season. Keep that up and they just might find themselves in the low-370’s. — Logan Bradley

#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 4 Recap

This past weekend was PACKED full of #NCAAMGym action and provided just a bit more clarity on the status of a few teams. We didn’t see too many surprises, though we did see the defending champs put up a gaudy number, Penn State upset conference rival Nebraska and Michigan assert their new-found dominance.

That last point leads us into the One Thing We Learned this week:

Michigan Is Back

I’m not saying Michigan is ready to rip off a string of NCAA titles yet again, I’m just saying that Kurt Golder and co.’s recruiting efforts are starting to bear fruit.

It’s not easy to go into a conference rival’s place and win. Not only did they do that, but they put up one of the best efforts that we’ve seen from the Wolverines in years:

Cameron Bock (Co-B1G Gymnast of the Week) is a stud and they’ve got plenty of depth to back him up. There’s still work to be done and talent to be groomed, but Michigan is bursting back onto the national scene and should be a fun team to watch in 2019 and beyond.

Ohio State @ Oklahoma

No. 1 Oklahoma last Saturday surpassed the 420 mark to decisively beat No. 8 Ohio State.

(via RoadToNationals.com)

It was really only a matter of time before the Sooners decided to jettison all doubt about their dominance this season. All uncertainty that existed as a result of the team’s Week 2 flirtation with being second-best, and the resting of their top gymnast, was swiftly alleviated by their 423.95.

OU claimed individual event titles on every event except for pommels, and senior Levi Anderson won the all-around with an 83.15. Sophomore Gage Dyer notched a 14.9 on floor, the top score of the season so far on the event, and freshman Vitaliy Guimaraes’ impressive floor set was bookended by what must have been the NCAA’s first baby-cradling(?) celebration, which gets an unofficial CGA nod of respect. Yul Moldauer’s 15.0 on p-bars and Anderson’s 14.7 on high bar were the nation’s top scores on each respective event this season (Anderson’s is tied for tops).

Ohio State looked rather unequipped to battle their opponent. A 395.4 is concerning for the Buckeyes, especially when taken in context of the Norman-bump, which, while not as extreme as it can be, was indeed in effect on Saturday. Senior Alec Yoder claimed the team’s lone individual event title, on pommels. OSU’s score wasn’t the Big Ten’s worst of the weekend — Nebraska went 395 — but a sub-400 does not bode well for the team’s outlook, particularly when teams like Cal, Army and Navy are in that range.

The Buckeyes face a swaggering Michigan team in Ann Arbor this weekend, which makes for a tough rebound meet. They’ll need to improve to build up some momentum; the Buckeyes, starting at Rocky Mountain Open, haven’t demonstrated the poise we’ve grown accustomed to expect from them. It’s still early, but the Buckeyes need to drastically improve — and soon — to remain a serious contender for a Big Ten championship and in the NCAA finals picture. — Alex Wittenberg

Check out full results here.

Stanford @ Cal

We got a little Sunday Night Gymnastics with Stanford visiting Cal this past weekend. The meet was broadcast on the Pac-12 Network, and from the looks of it, they put on a great broadcast. In regards to the actual meet, the Cardinal stayed on a roll, marking a new season high of 417.8 in the win.

(via RoadToNationals.com)

This might be remembered as the coming out party for freshman Brody Malone (MPSF Gymnast of the Week). He put together the second-highest all-around score in the NCAA this season with an 84.55. Welcome to the NCAA. Here’s what the freshman had to say after his double-title (HB & AA) winning performance.

Fellow freshman Ian Gunther didn’t want Malone to completely steal the spotlight, however. Gunther competed on four events, winning two of them (PH & SR) and placing no lower than sixth anywhere.

With another major freshman class coming in next season, saying Stanford’s future is bright is the understatement of the century.

Other event winners for the Tree were Connor Lewis (FX), Bryan Perla (VT) and Blake Sun (PB).

The Cal Golden Bears, meanwhile, are hanging steady right around that mid-390 mark. Veteran Aaron Mah led his team in the all-around with an 80.1. That was the senior’s first time doing all six events this season and you can expect to see that a lot more moving forward.

To get to the important stuff, we need to talk about the electricity that freshman Darren Wong is bringing with these celebrations.

In all seriousness, Wong keeps bringing quality gymnastics for Cal and this week he earned a four-event (FX, PH, SR, VT) average of 13.8. — Logan Bradley

Check out full results here.

Michigan @ Minnesota

It was billed as a heated Big Ten matchup that would lend insight into each team’s chances of winning a title, and it lived up to the hype — No. 3 Michigan outpaced rival Minnesota last Saturday in a meet that altered the narrative of the Big Ten championship race.

(via RoadToNationals.com)

Michigan, who was notably without Marty Stretch, scored a 413.15 to best No. 6 Minnesota’s 408.3. What was so remarkable about the meet was the shift from the week prior. The fact that both teams looked at least unrefined at Windy City and still put on their respective performances a week later underscores both the importance of the Big Ten regular season championship and how each team can rise to the competitive occasion.

That said, Michigan was simply better throughout the duration of the meet, save for some stumbles on high bar, which marked the only point of the meet when it looked like the momentum was shifting in favor of the Gophers. Sophomore Cameron Bock led the way for the Wolverines, posting an 84.7 in the all-around, the nation’s top score so far. Michigan also had an individual title on every event except for pommels, and as a team had the top score on every event except for p-bars.

Minnesota, like Michigan, drastically improved upon their performance at Windy City. Still, it wasn’t enough to keep up with the resurgence of their opponent. The events that hurt Minnesota the most were floor and rings: Michigan was about two points ahead of Minnesota on each. On the sunnier side, Shane Wiskus, the Gophers’ backbone, came away with a 82.9 while counting a fall on vault, so he’s well within Bock’s realm. Justin Karstadt claimed Minnesota’s lone event title with a 13.7 on pommels.

Importantly, this was each team’s first meet that counted toward the Big Ten regular-season championship. The takeaway is that Michigan is easily the second-favorite for that title, behind Illinois. Anyone who isn’t — at this point, at least — seriously considering Michigan as Illinois’ top rival is making a mistake. The Wolverines are back, and their unrelenting use of that hashtag (you know the one) gained some legitimacy last weekend. And Minnesota, whose prospects looked gloomy a week ago, showed they’re a lot more competitive than they first appeared.

To reiterate, the way each team rebounded from Windy City says a lot about their resiliency — and it augurs well for the hope for a heated Big Ten championships. — Alex Wittenberg

Check out full results here.

Iowa @ Illinois

In both team’s first taste of head-to-head conference action, Illinois was able to outlast the Hawkeyes in Champaign.

(via RoadToNationals.com)

For Illinois, the standout of the day was easily Johnny Jacobson. While we know what the senior can do on PB (B1G champion/NCAA All-American) we haven’t been able to see him completely put together an all-around day like he did on Saturday. His 81.95 was a career high and included a 13.95 on PB which earned him the event title.

Another important note for the Illini was the debut of freshman Hamish Carter. Competing on FX and HB, it wasn’t a banner day for the British Senior National Team member, but nonetheless, once he gets up to speed, he will inject some more difficulty for the Illini on multiple events. Fellow rookie Clay Stephens (B1G Freshman of the Week) grabbed a pair of runner-up finishes on the day.

Other Illini who picked up event titles on the day were Sebastian Quiana (FX), Michael Paradise (PH), Alex Diab (SR) and Ross Thompson (HB).

While it was just their second meet of 2019, Iowa was able to best their previous team score by exactly four points. Amazingly, four Hawkeyes competed in the all-around and all four scored 77.25+. Not many teams in the NCAA can say they have four guys with the ability to score that high.

Leading the group was Bennet Huang with an 80.15. Following him was Andrew Herrador (78.7), Evan Davis (78.35) and Jake Brodarzon (77.25).

Of that group, the one who stood out the most might’ve been freshman Evan Davis. The Cypress product competed with tons of fire for a rookie and was even pressed into a few situations where all eyes were on him, and he hit. It’s clear that he’s someone who J.D. Reive can seriously build around for the future.

As far as event titles go, Huang and Herrador shared the top spot on VT with a 14.55. — Logan Bradley

Check out full results here.

Nebraska @ Penn State

The crowd in Rec Hall this weekend was electric for the Penn State and Nebraska matchup. The Penn State women’s team faced off against Minnesota alongside the men’s competition, making for a great atmosphere.

Through all of the noise, the Big Ten regular season kicked off and it was the Nittany Lions who reigned supreme.

(via RoadToNatinonals.com)

Coming off an abysmal performance at West Point, this one had to have felt good for the Nittany Lions who were unable to win a single Big Ten home meet last year (0-3). The story of Penn State’s 14-point statement win really starts on the pommel horse where they put up a 67.250, counting two misses within that total. They are currently the number one pommel horse team in the country and have yet to put together a complete performance. It’s apparent Penn State has the highest ceiling in the country on this event; it is now a matter of executing. Look for Jack Baldwin and Nick Mock to be the difference makers on PH.

There were no more falls for Penn State after horse as they posted a 100% hit ratio for the remainder of the competition. They were tabbed to be a great rings team coming into the season, but very few people expected Isaac Hammett to be leading the way. The junior won the event in this one with a 13.800 and is now ranked No. 7 in the nation.

Sam Zakutney (Co-B1G Gymnast of the Week) did his usual thing – taking the floor title (14.250) and winning both parallel bars and high bar to close out the meet (13.750 and 14.700, respectively). Zakutney was joined by fellow Canadian Wyatt Tyndall at the back of the p-bars and high bar lineups, finishing third on the former with a 13.500.

Michael Burns who has struggled so far this season also came alive on Saturday. The senior contributed four solid scores, including a second place finish on high bar (14.050). Assistant Coach Tony Beck was satisfied with the performance, but still sees room for improvement. “I think overall the guys got a good feel of their potential and we still have a long way to go, but we are really happy with where we are at.”

Nebraska’s turbulent performance on Saturday was in no way indicative of what is to come for this team. To give some perspective: this was a team that finished No. 10 in the country in 2015 and has grown (in just four years) to a team consistently in the top-five conversation. One tough meet should not be enough to count this group out.

Anton Stephenson took home the lone title for the Cornhuskers on Vault (14.950), sticking his Yurchenko 2 ½ again.  His consistency on this event is truly unbelievable – we are witnessing something special.

The real bright spot for Nebraska came on high bar. This event was a weakness for them last year where they were ranked No. 9 in the country during the regular season. Although it is a small sample size, they are ranked No. 4 in 2019.  Dillan King, Khalil Jackson, Griffin Kehler and Jake Bonnay all looked great this past weekend. They will be a very strong HB line up as long as they can hit.

Assistant Coach John Robinson had this to say after the meet: “it was a pretty rough meet for us…but there is still time, we are not too concerned… we are gonna have to put it behind us and that’s okay. We are looking forward to getting back [in the gym] and grinding it out.”

The Big Ten regular season will roll on as Penn State starts 1-0 and Nebraska drops to 0-1. — Ben Cooperman

Check out full results here.

Army @ Springfield

On a day where both teams set new season-highs, the Army Black Knights were able to grab a home victory over Springfield.

(via RoadToNationals.com)

It was the Cole Casanova (ECAC Gymnast of the Week) show for Army in this one; the senior racked up an 82.35 all-around score. That included event titles on FX, SR, VT, PB and HB (and AA).

Aside from Casanova having a career day — it was extremely encouraging to see Army post such a solid score without much from their second leading scorer, freshman Matt Davis. Davis competed on just one event, FX, where the Black Knights combined for a program-record 69.65. That’s the sixth-highest team score on FX in 2019.

For the Springfield Pride, Stephen Lewis continued his stellar season, leading the way with an 80.9 — his season-high by 2.5. It was highlighted by a meet-high 13.15 on PH. He also tied for the top score on PB with a 13.5. In all, four Springfield gymnasts placed within the top-five on that event.

Springfield will head for the Windy City next weekend while Army has a big one; they’ll host their arch-rival, Navy. — Logan Bradley

Check out full results here.

Navy @ William & Mary

Navy took a small step backward while William & Mary took a giant leap forward, but it was not enough to take down the Midshipmen.

(via RoadToNationals.com)

Despite a six point regression from their previous showing, Navy was able to come out on top. The struggles came on parallel bars and high bar, with both event scores in the 62 range. It was an otherwise outstanding meet for Kip Simons’ group. It also marked a step forward for rookie Josh Williams (ECAC Rookie of the Week) who placed top-eight on all three of his events.

Pommel horse is becoming a huge strength for this team. Ryan Orce took second with a 14.250 and David Toussaint took third with a 14.200.  The two of them are now ranked No. 9 and No. 13 in the nation after leading their team to a 68.25 on the event.

William & Mary showed tremendous improvement in their first home competition of the year, besting their previous team high by just under eight points. The Tribe also featured Cutter Fuggett for the first time this season who tied for second on floor with a 13.500.

Andrew Lyubovsky had a great day taking home two event titles (PB, 13.750 and HB, 13.100). Jacopo Gliozzi took the pommel horse title (14.500) and came in second on rings (13.550) behind none other than his teammate David Watkins (ECAC Specialist of the Week). The Tribe will look to keep rolling behind Watkins who is shocking a lot of people this year. — Ben Cooperman

Check out full results here.

#NCAAMGym Week 2 Recap

Although Arizona State, Washington and NorCal United technically kicked off NCAA competition on Jan. 5 (with the Sun Devils prevailing) we really got our first taste of widespread competition this weekend.

It didn’t disappoint.

We had a pair of multi-team competitions in the West Point Open and Rocky Mountain Open, along with a pair of duels in IllinoisUIC and StanfordCal. While we learned a lot, (and we’ll get into each competition individually) we’re going to start off with something we’ll be doing in each week’s recap: One Thing We Learned.

Oklahoma Has A Legit Competitor In Stanford

Consider this somewhat obvious given the scores, but it’s clear that the Stanford Cardinal is one of the two best teams in the country. Are they No. 1? Certainly it’s not close to fair to say that after one week of outscoring the four-time defending NCAA champs by less than a point at an entirely different meet, but it’s an entertaining thought for anyone trying to create a story-line for the postseason.

Yep, we’re already talking about the postseason.

A look at each of the top-seven team’s total start values and average execution from week one.

West Point Open

The 2019 NCAA season kicked off Friday night in Christl Arena for all of the teams east of State College, Pennsylvania. The United States Military Academy has been home to the West Point Open for 28 years, and it was Penn State who grabbed their sixth-straight title in the 2019 competition.

(via RoadToNationals.com)

Head Coach Randy Jepson was not content with the solid start for the Nittany Lions. “We were really under the bar today, we had a lot of bad misses…we have to be more solid all across the board.”

Sam Zakutney (NCAA Gymnast of the Week) kept Penn State on track in this one, putting an end to the “does Penn State have a superstar?” debate. The junior paced the Nittany Lions, taking home three event titles, (FX – 14.450, PB – 13.950, HB – 13.700) as well as the all-around title with an 81.000.

Penn State also could have found the missing puzzle piece in this one as well. Favian Valdez, who missed the entirety of last season with an injury, was outstanding on Friday night. Valdez placed in the top three on three different events (PH, 2nd – 14.000, VT, 3T – 14.200, HB, 2nd – 13.650).

Another bright spot for the West Point Open champions came on rings.  Penn State flashed a 70.450, showing that they have the potential to be the top team in the country on this event. Greg Tamargo and Noah Roberson led the way (14.500) with Isaac Hammett coming in right behind them (14.350).

To cap it all off, back-to-back NCAA champion Stephen Nedoroscik put up a seemingly casual 15.300 career high on the pommel horse.

It was a tough start for Navy, but they were able to finish the meet strong to grab a second place finish. Heading into the final rotation, the Midshipmen were 2.45 points behind their rival, Army, in second place. Navy closed out strong on floor with a 68.100 to edge the Black Knights. 

Head Coach Kip Simons had this to say about the finish. “I can’t tell you how proud I am of these guys…there is just no quit in this group. For a bunch of young guys to understand the importance of never quitting, they became men tonight.”

Junior Lucas Beltran had a great showing with two top-three finishes (VT, 1st – 14.500, PB, 2nd – 13.900). Ryan Orce and David Toussaint showed a glimpse of what they can do for Navy at the back of their pommel horse lineup with fourth and sixth places finishes respectively (13.850 and 13.550). Highly touted freshman Josh Williams out of Cypress Academy also made his debut competing floor, rings and vault. His 10th place finish on floor (13.450) contributed to the Navy comeback.

Kip Simons liked the fight in this young Navy squad and they should have plenty of momentum coming out of the West Point Open.

Army, William & Mary and Springfield rounded out the top five. Army was led by Cole Casanova who took second in the all-around with an 80.050.  Matt Davis also showed a spark indicative of what is to come for the freshman, taking sixth in the all-around with a 76.200 and had a second place showing on floor with a 14.300.

David Watkins was the highlight for William & Mary, scoring a 14.500 on rings good enough to tie for first place on the event. Stephen Lewis cashed in a tremendous third place finish in the all-around for Springfield with a 78.400 including a third place finish on p-bars with a 13.750.

One final note: the judging at this competition seemed a bit more lenient than other meets across the country.

Full team results can be found here, while individual event final results can be found here.

(the West Point Open recap was courtesy of former Penn State gymnast, Ben Cooperman)

Rocky Mountain Open

Slowly, but surely, the Rocky Mountain Open is becoming the premier men’s college gymnastics meet of the year. Not only do we get a handful of top-notch teams battling it out, but the OTC men have been competing alongside them as well.

This year’s installment ended with a similar victor to years past, the four-time defending NCAA champion, Oklahoma Sooners.

(via RoadToNationals.com)

With their centerpiece, senior Yul Moldauer, doing just two events the Sooners were still able to secure a six-point victory over the second place finisher, Nebraska. Moldauer was OU’s lone event winner with his 14.35 on SR.

The lone all-arounder was Matt Wenske who finished his day just two tenths out of first-place with an 80.1. This actually marked Wenske’s first time doing all six events in an NCAA competition after he missed last season due to injury and did not do all-around his freshman season. Having Wenske at full health is such an important thing for this Oklahoma team.

Another OU gymnast who had a nice evening was sophomore Gage Dyer. Dyer competed three events for the Sooners and finished with a 13.4+ on each of them, resulting in a pair of top-four event finishes. The Yukon, OK native was impressive as a freshman, but he’ll play an even larger role this season.

“The guys closed things out well, doing a good job on the last two events,” Williams told SoonerSports.com after the meet. “We definitely have a lot to improve on. We’re looking forward to going home and getting settled in at McCasland Field House. I’m happy for the team, we put up a good score and we have time to improve. Hoping this is just the first step to better things in the future.”

Though Nebraska wasn’t able to take out Oklahoma, they’re surely happy about besting a pair of B1G foes in Minnesota and Ohio State.

The Huskers’ day was highlighted by a meet-high 69.3 on PB where they were led by Andrew Zymball and his third-place 14.35. Not a single one of the six men on PB for Nebraska scored below a 13.6 on the event. That right there is the true difference between this current Nebraska teams and ones from the past — consistency and a lack of any devastatingly low scores.

The majority of Nebraska’s scoring came from the all-around champion, Anton Stephenson (80.3) and sophomore Griffin Kehler (79.55). Kehler joined Stephenson as an event champion by claiming the FX title. We know all the things Stephenson can do, but Kehler providing his team a legitimate second top all-around option is a huge help.

Finishing off the top three were the Minnesota Golden Gophers. They were nipped by a mere .45 by the Huskers — something I’m sure they’re already looking forward to avenging on Feb. 23 in Lincoln.

The Gophers’ lone event title came from senior Vitali Kan on VT. Aside from Kan, there were impressive showings from Justin Karstadt (a pair of top-five finishes), Shaun Herzog (78.05 in the all-around) and Timmy Kutyla who came up big-time for Minnesota on both PB and HB.

Finishing in fourth were the Ohio State Buckeyes. As you could’ve guessed, Alec Yoder looked just about ready as can be with a pair of event titles on PH and PB. He debuted a new dismount on the latter, sticking a double-front half-out to finish a beautiful routine.

It’s just one meet, but it’s clear there will still be some depth issues for Ohio State. They’re young, and those guys will step up as the season continues, but they’ll need some more fire power on PH as nobody eclipsed the 12.8-mark other than Yoder.

Fifth-place belonged to the ASU Sun Devils. Sophomore phenom Kiwan Watts secured a pair of top-three finishes (SR and PB) while his classmate, Max Williams, stood out with a seventh-place finish on PH.

For Air Force, the clear standout performance came on high bar. Senior Lukas Texeira made it known that he’ll be competing for All-American status in 2019 with this title-winning routine.

SC United rounded out the field and they were led by Calvin Valrie’s 69.65 in the all-around.

Full results can be found here.

(The Rocky Mountain Open recap was courtesy of former Illinois gymnast, Logan Bradley)

Cal Benefit Cup

No. 2 Stanford notched the highest team score in the country to best No. 11 California at the Cal Benefit Cup last Saturday.  

(via RoadToNationals.com)

The Stanford Cardinal swept the event titles on the way to scoring 411.25, surpassing No. 1 Oklahoma’s 410.45 at the Rocky Mountain Open the same day. (OU had originally tied with Stanford for the highest score of the week, but their score was subsequently lowered after a misused injury-substitution rule was addressed.)

Freshman Ian Gunther had a great debut with top-three finishes on all four events (PH, SR, PB and HB) he competed.

“The guys kept their calm and kept plugging away,” Stanford head coach Thom Glielmi said in a post-meet interview. “It was a very good sign for this early in the season.”

The California Golden Bears scored 392.35, and senior Aaron Mah tied for the high bar title. Freshman Darren Wong placed fourth in the all-around with a 77.7.

“This was a strong start for us. A lot of things were not perfect, but to come out of the gates with a score and performance like this and battle back at the end shows this team is capable of a lot,” California head coach JT Okada said in an interview. “We just need to get back into the gym and address a couple of key areas and we’ll be back out here doing even better next time.”

Earning event titles for Stanford were junior Connor Lewis on floor; junior Joey Ringer on pommel horse; freshman Ian Gunther on rings; sophomore Bryan Perla on vault; senior Grant Breckenridge on parallel bars and in the all around; and junior David Jessen on high bar.

For Cal, freshman Kyle Abe earned third on pommel horse.

Week 1 of NCAA competition usually isn’t a true indicator of how the season will shake out, but Stanford made a statement in topping Oklahoma’s score early — perhaps this is the season in which the Sooners’ seemingly unrelenting dominance hits an inflection point.

As always, prognosticating using scores from different meets across the country isn’t good science. But since Stanford won’t actually face the Sooners until the MPSF championships April 6, guessing is as good as we’re going to get for now. To many, Stanford’s performance Week 1 was strong enough to forecast a heated exchange between the two teams come postseason, a welcome development for those tired of the OU juggernaut.

Full results can be found here.

(the Cal Benefit Cup recap was courtesy of former Minnesota gymnast, Alex Wittenberg)

UIC @ Illinois

In the first taste of 2019 competition for both teams, the Fighting Illini took down the UIC Flames in Champaign, IL.

(via RoadToNationals.com)

While the bookends of the meet (FX and HB) weren’t pretty for the Illini, there were a few bright spots that can be taken away. First was the debut of freshman Michael Fletcher (NCAA Rookie of the Week) The rookie’s 80.05 all-around score was good enough to grab the title along with the top freshman AA score across the entire NCAA. Nobody expects Fletcher to be Bobby Baker — or produce the way that Baker did — but it’s obvious that the Illini have a good one on their hands.

“[Fletcher] really capitalized,” Spring told fightingillini.com after the meet. “I think he proved he is going to be a gamer for us all year long. We knew he was going to be a heavy hitter for us and he came out and showed it in the first meet of the year.”

Aside from Fletcher, Illinois got good performances from Alex Diab (event titles on FX, SR and VT), Johnny Jacobson (PB title and a 78.7 all-around score) and Michael Paradise (PH title).

As for Paradise on PH, he came into 2019 with some major expectations given the departure of multiple PH fixtures like Brandon Ngai. He sure looked up to the task as he swung with plenty of confidence.

How young is UIC? They were led by four underclassmen (Nick Smiley, Xan Weaver, Paul Burney and Sam Montague) all-around, three of which are freshmen. The rookie, Smiley, led the way securing a third-place all-around finish with his 69.25. That included a top-five finish on PB.

Full results can be found here.

The Illinois-UIC recap was courtesy of former Illinois gymnast, Logan Bradley)

The CGA 2019 #NCAAMGym Season Preview

Every year, May through December flies by. 2018 was certainly no exception, as it seems like ten minutes ago we were watching the Oklahoma Sooners celebrate their fourth-straight NCAA title inside of the UIC Pavilion.

All that’s happened since that time? A U.S. Championships that saw a current or former NCAA gymnast win every single event, along with the all-around title (congrats to former Michigan Wolverine, Sam Mikulak). What followed was a World Championships where an all-NCAA-led team captured fourth-place while Mikulak earned his first individual World medal, a bronze on high bar:

Unfortunately, this offseason hasn’t been filled completely with positive news. Just a few months back, the UIC Flames were notified that both their men and women’s programs were being discontinued. While undoubtedly awful news, it has been followed by an outstanding show of support from the entire gymnastics community:

As we make our way through the 2019 NCAA season, we must keep in mind our brothers and sisters at UIC and help them in any way possible. Obviously, we can ill afford to lose such a valuable program.

Now let’s get to the good stuff — the previewing of every single team that hopes to raise a trophy and earn some jewelry by the end of April. With the Sooners returning their star, Yul Moldauer, they’ll be primed to tie the NCAA record (set by OU head coach Mark Williams’ former coach, Francis Allen of Nebraska) of five-consecutive titles. At the same time, teams like Stanford (with a loaded batch of freshman), Illinois, Minnesota and others will be looking to break the streak.

Something to take note of, and a significant change within the NCAA, is the Big Ten conference’s addition of a B1G regular season champion. That’s right — each team in the Big Ten will compete against each other exactly one time in either a dual or tri-meet. Whoever finishes with the best record at the end of conference competition is the B1G regular season champion.

Now we’ll take an inside-look at each team that will take the competition floor this season and where they could finish up. The following rankings are based on an average ranking created by five of the following people:

  • 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)

Following the team-by-team breakdown we’ll look at five competitors on each event who could be contenders to win an NCAA title.

1. Oklahoma Sooners

Yul Moldauer (photo: Jess Frankl)

  • Key Losses: Hunter Justus, Reese Rickett
  • Key AdditionsVitaliy Guimaraes, Spencer Goodell
  • 2018 Finish: NCAA – 1st, MPSF – 1st

When the Sooners open up their season on January 12 at the Rocky Mountain Open, they won’t look all that different from the team that secured a fourth-straight NCAA title in 2018. For anyone in the NCAA with aspirations of dethroning the champs, that spells bad news.

“You know, we’re only losing four scores from NCAA’s last year and Matt Wenske is coming back to full health, which will be big,” explained head coach Mark Williams.

Yep — four scores. Not to mention the return of Wenske, who when healthy is one of the top FX and VT competitors in the country. “In terms of available guys we’re further along than maybe we were in the last two years.”

One of those available guys is Yul Moldauer and in reality, everything for this Oklahoma team starts and stops with the senior who has put together one of the greatest NCAA careers the sport has ever seen. Fresh off of helping Team USA secure a fourth-place team finish at World Championships, Moldauer returns to Norman in an attempt to secure his fourth and final championship ring. However, as is the case with any gymnast who competes internationally, the team knows they must cognizant of how much they’re using their star.

“There are going to be times where I’d like to use him more, but we’re also trying to be really smart about what he’s capable of doing. You know, most meets he’ll be like ‘you know, I’m ready to do everything’ and I’m trying to be the smart person as a coach and say, ‘yeah, you can’t do that every time. We need to allow you to get a break occasionally and trust these other guys to get the job done.'” – Mark Williams

Considering that Williams believes that the Sooners are a deeper team than in years past, trusting others to get the job done shouldn’t be so difficult.

We’ll know early on just how good Oklahoma is as they open the season at the previously mentioned RMO against top teams like Minnesota, Ohio State and Nebraska.

  • ROUTINE TO WATCH (according to Williams): “Levi Anderson’s doing a pretty big high bar routine. A lot of releases, a lot of risk in those releases, but for this time of the year he’s doing it pretty well so I’m kind of excited about that.”

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  • SLEEPER GYMNAST (according to Williams): “Probably the most improved guy from last year is [Alexei] Vernyi who was getting back from surgery and really struggled in the early part of the year with the training plan. He did a little bit on FX and VT last year, but I’m starting to see good things on other events. I love to see a kid who’s been down a little bit and finds his way back where he’s competitive with everybody else in the gym.”

2. Stanford Cardinal

Bryan Perla (photo: Jess Frankl)

  • Key Losses: Robert Neff
  • Key Additions: Ian Gunther, Brody Malone, Curran Phillips
  • 2018 Finish: NCAA – 4th, MPSF – 2nd

What do you need to know about Stanford’s team in 2018? For starters, they’ve got the most intriguing freshman class in the country (Ian Gunther, Brody Malone, Curran Phillips, Christopher Osgood, Matthew Szot, Blake Wilson) who should contribute immediately. But maybe more importantly, according to head coach Thom Glielmi, these guys love the sport and enjoy everything that comes along with it.

“This team has got a great culture, they’re very motivated, they’re on the same page as far as doing what they have to do to make that happen. It’s a lot of fun. This is one of the most enjoyable teams to coach that I’ve ever had. So that says a lot. Just because they’re excited about the sport and motivated and coach-able.” – Thom Glielmi

As any gymnast who’s had to grind through a full off-season/season knows, you’ve got to enjoy what you’re doing.

Working against Stanford will be the departure of two-time NCAA high bar champion, Robert Neff. Redshirt senior Jacob Barrus (mentioned below) and senior Grant Breckenridge will be heavily relied upon to anchor that event in Neff’s absence.

Don’t forget about Josiah Eng either. The senior ringman missed all of 2018 after suffering a torn ACL. He should be a serious boon for the Cardinal who ended last season as the sixth-ranked team in the NCAA on SR. Sophomore Thomas Lee and Eng should pack a nice 1-2 punch at the back-end of Stanford’s lineup.

“I think the freshmen are starting to see how competitive it’s going to be to make the lineup,” explained Glielmi. “That lends itself to better training, you know, and reminding them that they have to earn their spot; that their mom’s not going to pay for their entry fee.”

  • ROUTINE TO WATCH (according to Glielmi): “Jacob Barrus on high bar. He’ll probably do five releases. It’s just a big looking routine and he’s a big guy.”
  • SLEEPER GYMNAST (according to Glielmi): “[Brody] Malone and [Ian] Gunther. They have their individual strengths and, you know, how it’s going right now there’s definitely some work that needs to be done, but they’re very coachable so I think if things progress the way they are, they’ll transition into the collegiate and senior ranks pretty well.”

3. Illinois Fighting Illini

Alex Diab (photo: Jess Frankl)

  • Key Losses: Bobby BakerChandler EgglestonBrandon NgaiTyson Bull
  • Key AdditionsMichael FletcherClay StephensHamish Carter
  • 2018 Finish: NCAA – 3rd, B1G – 1st

“We don’t do anything different,” said Illinois’ head coach Justin Spring when asked how the off-season has gone following the loss of a major crop of gymnasts. “We’ve got a system and we just run it.”

Nobody is going to argue the legitimacy of that system following a season where the Illini won their first B1G team title since 2012. At the same time, it’s fair to question how they’ll fill holes like the four empty spots on PH previously occupied by Brandon Ngai, Bobby Baker, Harry McLellan and Tyson Bull.

“We’re a little behind,” said Spring. “It’s going to take freshmen a lot longer to get fully ready than your veteran, third-year or fourth-year guys. It’s been a little bit of a ego check. We still think, myself included, that we’re a strong team this year.”

Make no mistake, this still is a strong team, and they’ll be expecting a lot from freshman Michael Fletcher and sophomore Clay Stephens (although we did not see him in action last year as he was recovering from an injury). Fletcher is a former U.S. Junior National team member while Stephens is a member of the Australian Senior national team. On top of those two, the Illini made a late addition in Hamish Carter, a member of the British Senior National team.

Something the Illini (and every other B1G team) will be keeping an eye on the season is the brand-new implementation of a B1G Regular Season Championship. That’s right — along with crowning a B1G champion as usual at the championship meet in March, one will also be crowned based off of their regular season record vs. conference opponents.

“Any time we’re injured and banged up we look back and it’s like, ‘ah, whatever, no meet really matters until postseason. It’s about peaking for postseason, peaking for April.’ Now, postseason is sprinkled throughout the year and meets have a tremendous amount more weight to them if they’re a B1G conference meet. So I’m really excited, I think the energy is going to be intense, you’re going to feel that heartbeat a lot more intensely at these meets.” – Justin Spring

Speaking of feeling that heartbeat — the Illini will be this year’s host of NCAA Championships on April 19-20. When asked about how the guys are feeling in regards to competing for the big one in Champaign Spring said they’re “amped” to defend their house.

  • ROUTINE TO WATCH (according to Spring): “Clay [Stephens] brings some unique stuff. Clay’s p-bars has a lot of those front-uprise elements that you normally see from the best guys in the world. That’s going to be a unique routine. He’s got front-uprise diamidov/front-uprise stutz already in the set. Those are skills you don’t see very often.”
  • SLEEPER TO WATCH (according to Spring): “Jordan Kovach. He’s just looking really good. For a guy who came in mid-year (last year) and did maybe one or two events for us at any given time, I think he’s a guy who could possibly be in lineup on five events and doing the all-around, so it’s exciting.”

4. Minnesota Golden Gophers

Justin Karstadt (photo: Jess Frankl)

  • Key LossesTristan DuranJoel GagnonYaroslav PochinkaJalon StephensAlex Wittenberg
  • Key AdditionsDavid Pochinka
  • 2018 Finish: NCAA – 2nd, B1G – 5th

There’s no doubt about it, the Gophers’ roster looks a whole lot different than it did last year at this time. Ten have graduated (most of whom played large roles) and nine have arrived.

One thing, however, remains the same. This is a program coming off of a surprising runner-up finish at NCAA’s. Well, maybe it was surprising to everybody but them. “It’s hard not to think about Minnesota gymnastics right now with what these guys did last year,” said head coach Mike Burns.

“Everybody knows we’re not quite the same team. But, with that said, any program that’s going to be sustainable has to have a common thread through it. We want to maintain the same kind of mentality and standards which turn into a culture.” – Mike Burns

The major holdovers from last season who will attempt to maintain that mentality are gymnasts like Shane Wiskus (NCAA All-Around runner-up finish in 2018) , Shaun Herzog (SR All-American), Justin Karstadt (PH & PB All-American) and Vitali Kan (VT All-American).

As mentioned before, there will be plenty of fresh Gopher faces in 2019. Plenty will be contributors, though the one most likely to make a high-end impact is David Pochinka (younger brother of the former Gopher, Yaroslav). Hailing from WOGA Gymnastics, Pochinka has a clean look to his gymnastics that should allow him to contend for All-American status right away on an event like PB.

While this team has their eyes set on the two opportunities to take home a B1G title (regular season and postseason), Burns says they first need to focus on the process goals like health and overall preparation. “These guys who are seniors want to go out on a high note, to put a ring on their finger.”

Despite the mass exodus, nobody should doubt the Gophers given last season’s finish.

  • SLEEPER TO WATCH (according to Burns): “Colton Dee. He’s got the most amazing work ethic. He’s training his tail off and starting to hit higher level routines. He’s looking like a guy who could come out of nowhere and make a difference.”
  • ROUTINE TO WATCH (according to Burns): “Our whole floor lineup. On top of that, I’d go with either Kan on pommel horse or Wiskus on high bar.”

5. Michigan Wolverines

Jacob Moore (photo: Jess Frankl)

  • Key LossesDmitri BelanovskiTristian Perez-Rivera
  • Key AdditionsKevin Penev
  • 2018 Finish: NCAA – 8th, B1G – 2nd

2018 was a move in the right direction for the Michigan Wolverines. They were able to capture a surprise runner-up finish at B1G Championships and identified a couple of cornerstone pieces for their future — those being sophomores Cameron Bock and Jacob Moore. And, according to assistant coach Geoff Corrigan, they’re bringing a lot more to the table than just their gymnastics.

“I think any time you have somebody like Cameron or Jake — those guys have won their entire lives — since they were very young. They hate losing. I think that the culture is changing a little bit in a sense of the expectations are just higher. I think not making the Super Six last year was a pretty big surprise.” – Geoff Corrigan.

It’s not as if there’s no star power after Bock and Moore — quite the opposite, actually. You’ve got a trio of All-Americans in Anthony McCallum (2x NCAA VT champion), Emyre Cole and Ryan Dunning to go along with freshman Kevin Penev (younger brother of former Stanford great, Eddie) who should have an immediate impact.

Corrigan compared this year’s team to the Michigan squad from 2010 in terms of intelligence levels. Why could that be a nice comparison? Well, the Wolverines ended up as NCAA champions that year. It’s very possible that Michigan finishes even higher than where they’re pegged in the coaches poll (No. 5).

  • SLEEPER TO WATCH (according to Corrigan): “Jonathan Liu. He’s just good at everything. He’ll probably end up by the end of his career on four or five events. He learns quick, looks clean and swings great horse. He could step up and surprise himself.”
  • ROUTINE TO WATCH (according to Corrigan): “Cameron Bock on FX. He’s pretty incredible. I think he’s starting at a 5.8 or 5.9 Has a (back-twisting) 3.5 connection pass in there, so he will be very good.”

6. Penn State Nittany Lions

Sam Zakutney (photo: Jess Frankl)

  • Key Losses: Colin Coates
  • Key AdditionsBrady Yamamoto
  • 2018 Finish: NCAA – 6th, B1G – 3rd

For where they finished last year and how few routines they’ve lost heading into 2019, Penn State might be the team receiving the least amount of deserved respect.

Head coach Randy Jepson will be the first to tell you: there’s no particular superstar that the Nittany Lions possess. Of course, you can consider Stephen Nedoroscik (back-to-back PH NCAA champion) a superstar in his own right, but there really isn’t one gymnast that puts them way over the top on multiple events.

“The thing about our team is we don’t have anybody that would go ‘oh, wow that guy is amazing!” We’ve been able to build guys who are unheralded. Matt Felleman was a great example, he was a big. We’ve got a team of those.” – Randy Jepson

Let’s not forget about Sam Zakutney, however. The All-American and Canadian Senior National team member (he competed at the recent World Championships) should continue putting up a ton of good scores for PSU in 2019.

One thing this team won’t be short on is leadership. The upperclassmen-heavy team is headed by three great leaders in Chris Sands, Michael Burns and Wyatt Tyndall.

If you’re going to go with a sleeper pick in 2019, Penn State might be the team.

  • ROUTINE TO WATCH (according to Jepson): “Stephen Nedoroscik on PH is world class. His execution is outstanding and he’s upped his game and increased his start value a little bit. He’s shown that when the pressure is on he can step up.”
  • SLEEPER TO WATCH: Favian Valdez missed all of 2018 with an injury but had a major impact as a freshman. He should slot right back into multiple lineups.

7. Nebraska Cornhuskers

Anton Stephenson (photo: Jess Frankl)

  • Key LossesKyle KingAntonio CastroChris Stephenson
  • Key AdditionsKhalil JacksonDillan King
  • 2018 Finish: NCAA – 5th, B1G – 6th

It really felt like 2018 was somewhat of a “prove it” year for Nebraska. Sure, the return to NCAA team finals was a feel good story in 2017, but were they able to repeat that success? Well, following a fifth place finish in Chicago, it was obvious that they were up to the challenge.

Now the challenge is overcoming a pretty significant departure of talent. Guys like Chris Stephenson and Kyle King are gone, and they’ll be replaced by talented freshmen like Khalil Jackson and Dillan King.

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“It’s been a concern of mine, yes,” said head coach Chuck Chmelka on the idea of replacing crucial gymnasts from last year’s team. “Fortunately, the freshmen have bought in. They’re doing everything we ask.”

On the other side of the coin, a few returnees who will play key roles are Anton StephensonJake Bonnay and Griffin Kehler. Kehler really came on strong as a freshman and consistently produced on FX, PB and HB. All three of the previously mentioned Huskers will be a part of what should be one of the best FX lineups in the NCAA.

If all goes according to plan, Chmelka says the team has their sights set on winning a B1G championship and finishing in the top-three at NCAA’s — something the Huskers have yet to accomplish this century. Given the trajectory of this program in recent time, neither of those results are outside the realm of possibilities.

  • ROUTINE TO WATCH (according to Chmelka): “Heath Anderson on rings could be an All-American. We haven’t had that in recent years. He’s improved a lot and will probably be our top (rings) scorer.”
  • SLEEPER TO WATCH (according to Chmelka): “Jonathan Scripnick competed on and off for us on one or two events last year. He could be a four event guy and is doing really well.”

8. Ohio State Buckeyes

Alec Yoder (photo: Jess Frankl)

  • Key LossesSean MeltonSeth Delbridge
  • Key AdditionsAngel LeonJesse Tyndall
  • 2018 Finish: NCAA – 7th, B1G – 4th

To put it simply, 2018 did not go as planned for the Ohio State Buckeyes — and head coach Rustam Sharipov was quick to point that out. After winning back-to-back B1G titles in 2016 and 2017, Ohio State struggled to find back-end depth that they were so previously accustomed to. Now, in 2019, that back-end depth could be coming into shape.

Yes, they’ll be living in the post-Sean Melton era, but the Buckeyes are still led by one of the best all-around gymnasts in the NCAA, Alec Yoder. Yoder is fresh off of competing at the World Championships where he helped Team U.S.A. secure a fourth-place finish.

We’re all aware of the things Yoder can do, but what about some of the other gymnasts who will be relied upon heavily by Sharipov? One to keep an eye out for is sophomore Max Andryushchenko. With one year of experience now under his belt, the Lakeshore Academy product should be a key cog in multiple lineups, including SR where Sharipov mentioned he will be premiering a newer set.

If the Buckeyes are able to see some of their key freshmen like Angel Leon and Jesse Tyndall (younger brother of Wyatt (PSU) and Mitch (NEB)) mature quickly, they should have a great chance at rebounding in 2019. “The goal is to get back where we belong,” said Sharipov. “I believe the team belongs in the top-three (at NCAA’s) and to be able to fight for a B1G title. That’s the ultimate goal. As long as they do their job, I believe it can happen.”

  • SLEEPER TO WATCH (according to Sharipov): “Alec Yoder (although it’s hard to fully consider him a “sleeper”) is highly motivated and is upgrading routines.”
  • ROUTINE TO WATCH (according to Sharipov): “Angel Leon, our freshman, is doing some high-flying releases on high bar.”

9. Iowa Hawkeyes

Evan Davis (photo: Jess Frankl)

  • Key Losses: Austin HodgesDylan Ellsworth
  • Key AdditionsEvan Davis, Stewart Brown
  • 2018 Finish: NCAA – 9th, B1G – 7th

The Iowa Hawkeyes enter the 2019 season after losing two of their top scorers, and leaders, in Austin Hodges and Dylan Ellsworth. It’s never easy to move on from that, but head coach J.D. Reive has been able to bring in a couple of talents that Hawkeye fans should be excited about.

Evan Davis will come in as a freshmen and contribute from the jump. The Houston, TX native put together an illustrious J.O. career, capped off by winning the Mas Watanabe Award — given to the nation’s most outstanding level 10 gymnast.

Outside of Davis, Iowa really has a great handful of gymnasts who will be counted upon this season. Addison Chung and Bennet Huang highlight a sophomore class that should only get better with a year of experience. In addition, Rogelio Vazquez and Jake Brodarzon were tabbed as B1G Gymnasts to Watch by the conference.

“Our theme this year is consistency,” said Reive. “We’ve worked really hard to get stuff in line and hit the majority of the time. For me, it’s can we get out there and have consistency with how we’re putting things together on the floor.”

The Hawkeyes will have plenty of time to get comfortable within their own home in 2019 as they won’t have a road meet (outside of Winter Cup) from January 27 until March 9.

  • ROUTINE TO WATCH (according to Reive): “Rogelio Vazquez has a kick ass high bar routine this year and could contend to win conference. That one has been exciting. [Mitch] Mandozzi is in there as well.”
  • SLEEPER TO WATCH (according to Reive): “I’m expecting a lot out of Evan Davis. He’ll contribute quite a bit and he’s a baller. I’m anxious to get him into the NCAA bracket.”

10. Navy Midshipmen

David Toussaint (photo: Jess Frankl)

  • Key Losses: Noah BeemanTanner West
  • Key AdditionsJosh Williams
  • 2018 Finish: NCAA – 11th, ECAC – 1st

Since being announced as head coach of Navy back in September, 2015, Kip Simons has had one goal: build. Naturally, when you build, results will follow (most of the time). In the case of Simons and his Midshipmen squad, those results really have followed. Two ECAC titles in the last three years proves that the base he’s built in Annapolis is sturdier than most.

“I think we’re in the plus,” said Simons on the net loss/gain of talent from last year’s team. “We’re right where I’d like to be. We’re losing three and bringing in eight and that’s a good sign that we’ve got the depth we’ve been searching for.”

Losing Noah Beeman, a leader that Simons raved about last season, will be tough on Navy, but they’ll be gaining a supremely talented gymnast in Josh Williams. “A beast,” said Simons on the freshman. “He’s one of the guys who came in and never really struggled with adjusting to our system.”

While Williams is the standout of the group, Simons mentioned other newcomers like Nehemiah Baker and Cash Buske as others who will step into immediate roles.

In terms of scheduling, it shouldn’t surprise you as to which meet the Mids have circled on their calendar. A road date with Army on February 2 will be interesting as Simons knows how difficult it can be to win at their arch-rival. “It’s been at least eight years since we’ve won up there. We treat that meet like a championship in which we’re looking to be in peak NCAA performance.”

Simons said the team has their eyes set on increasing their start values in 2018. If they’re able to do that and execute relatively well, a repeat ECAC performance and top-ten NCAA finish could be in the cards.

  • ROUTINE TO WATCH (according to Simons): “Lucas Beltran is always a force to be reckoned with on vault and floor. He’s a big, super quick and bouncy guy. Look for him on those two.”
  • SLEEPER TO WATCH (according to Simons): “Max Gerber. He was training four to five events for us last year but he struggled getting into lineup. He’s a guy that has put his nose to the grindstone in the off-season and that’s when development happens. He came back with a different look because last year left a bad taste in his mouth. He should be a strong competitor on PH, PB and HB.”

11. California Golden Bears

Aaron Mah (photo: Jess Frankl)

  • Key Losses: Yordan Aleksandrov
  • Key AdditionsLiam Doherty-Herwitz, Darren Wong
  • 2018 Finish: NCAA – 10th, MPSF – 3rd

Among other things like qualifying into NCAA team finals, head coach J.T. Okada has a simplified goal for his Golden Bears: compete higher level gymnastics.

“Last year we tightened up a bit and went more conservative in order to score as best as possible. This year, the goal is to provide a certain look — a certain gymnastics.” – J.T. Okada

They might have the talent to do just that. Losing Yordan Aleksandrov, one of the best Cal gymnasts in recent memory, will leave a hole, but there are a couple of talented freshmen that Okada is ready to unleash. Liam Doherty-Herwitz, for example, is fresh off competing at the U.S. Championships this summer where he grabbed a fifth-place finish on PB, an event where fresh depth will be needed.

Another freshman, Darren Wong, gives Cal two Canadian Senior National Team members (Aaron Mah being the other). Wong has a dynamic and clean look to his gymnastics, something that Okada might be looking for given Aleksandrov’s departure.

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If Cal can make some strides on PH this year, look for them to make a decent-sized jump in average team score.

  • ROUTINE TO WATCH (according to Okada): “Last year we were a day two (of NCAA’s) team on every single event but pommel horse; that’s where the wheels came off. This year we have the start value [on PH] and expect to be a lot better on that event.”
  • SLEEPER TO WATCH (according to Okada): “Kyle Abe. He’s a local freshman from San Jose. He’s got some big time skills and if he can get it together, he’s very powerful.”

12. Air Force Falcons

Ethan Esval (photo: Jess Frankl)

  • Key Losses: Fletcher BrauntonJonathon Fornoff
  • Key AdditionsNick Handley,
  • 2018 Finish: NCAA – 12th, MPSF – 4th

Based off the number of #WipeoutWednesday posts on Air Force’s Instagram feed, you might start to worry a little about how their off-season has gone. Fear not! Things are looking bright for the Falcons after welcoming in eight new freshmen in the fall.

Jonah Urlaub, Air Force’s top overall scorer in 2018, will return for his senior season. Toward the latter part of last season he was a frequent all-arounder scorer for the Falcons — something that should continue into 2019. Another important senior for Air Force will be Lukas Texeira. Texeira stepped up his game on HB last season and should be a mainstay at the back-end of the Falcons’ lineup yet again.

As for head coach Jeff Robinson’s main focus and goal for this team, he’ll be looking for improved consistency in respect to hitting routines.

  • ROUTINE TO WATCH: Lukas Texeira on HB. The senior averaged a 13.795 on the event last year, good enough for seventh-best in the NCAA. He’s no-doubt an All-American-level competitor on the event.
  • SLEEPER TO WATCH: Frankie Valentin. A four-event competitor as a freshman, Valentin was strong on SR, notching the program’s third-highest score ever on the event with a 13.9. He should continue finding ways to contribute for Air Force and take on an even more prominent role.

13. Arizona State Sun Devils

Kiwan Watts (photo: Jess Frankl)

  • Key LossesDaniel BronnenbergNikita LatmanRiley Ward
  • Key AdditionsJordan WilliamsKyle Buriss

Twenty. Four. That’s the number of freshmen that the Sun Devils will bring in for 2019. Of course, with ASU being a club team, not all of those gymnasts will compete for their primary team, rather, many will compete for their “Maroon Team” who will compete in four meets.

As for those returning, the most important will absolutely be Kiwan Watts. Watts competed admirably for the Sun Devils during his freshman campaign, ranking No. 7 in the NCAA at the end of the regular season in the all-around.

As usual, ASU should be the top club team in the country while also giving plenty of varsity teams a run for their money. The process goal, however, according to head coach Scott Barclay is to “stay healthy and HIT.”

  • ROUTINE TO WATCH (according to Barclay): Kiwan Watts on PB and HB.
  • SLEEPER TO WATCH (according to Barclay): Freshman Jordan Williams.

14. William & Mary Tribe

Jack Haskenkopf (photo: Jess Frankl)

  • Key Losses: Jeremiah McReynoldsJuan Palma
  • Key Additions: Andrew LyubovskyKevin Portofee
  • 2018 Finish: NCAA – 13th, ECAC – 2nd

The West Point Open is the first meet of the season for William & Mary, and they’ve had it circled on the calendar for months. “We’ve had it [WPO] on our minds for a while,” said head coach Mike Powell. “To position ourselves, we want to come out of the gates ready to go.”

Given the offseason that Powell was pleased with, it seems like the Tribe should be able to do just that. They’ll be returning a few key seniors like All-American Jacopo Gliozzi and last year’s top all-around scorer, Jack Hasenkopf. Gliozzi is actually fresh off of competing for Italy at the 2018 Turnier Der Meister World Cup in Cottbus, Germany. It was there that the senior placed 10th on PH, earning him a few points toward qualification for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

“The main thing is, the culture has been really solidified. The freshmen have come in as a cohesive unit and the seniors have taken them under their wing. Everyone’s bought in and we have a good culture of hard work.” – Mike Powell

As far as those freshmen go, one that Powell mentioned was Andrew Lyubovsky. The Virginia native was described as having some “flash” to his gymnastics and he should be able to help out on events like PB & HB.

At the end of the season, Powell says the goal, as always, is to end up qualifying to NCAA Championships as a team. With a solid five-gymnast senior class, the Tribe will surely have the experience necessary.

  • ROUTINE TO WATCH (according to Powell): “The way that David Watkins‘ rings has come along has been nice. He’s ready to add another point of difficulty.”
  • SLEEPER TO WATCH (according to Powell): “Tomas Palma will come into his own this year. He spent a few years developing and solidifying and has had a great first semester. I think he’ll make a splash on the national scene.”

15. Army Black Knights

Cole Casanova (photo: Jess Frankl)

  • Key LossesSeth CannonNathan Goff
  • Key AdditionsMathew Davis
  • 2018 Finish: NCAA – 15th, ECAC – 3rd

Army’s Associate head coach, Carmine Giglio, put things simply when describing this 2019 team by saying, “I think we look better than last year.”

Well, considering that’s the goal each and every year, I’d say that’s a pretty good sign for the Black Knights. Army will be led by a pair of senior captains in James Gamarra and Cole Casanova — the latter returned last season from injury after missing all of 2017.

A freshman to keep an eye out for will be Mathew Davis who hails from the same club gym (WOGA) as Casanova. Look for him on multiple events, more specifically FX and PB.

As always (and as you heard earlier from Navy), the goal will be to take down their fellow Academy. In their lone dual with the Mids last season, Army dropped a meet in Annapolis. This year, they’ll be competing against their arch rival at home — something that has been a major advantage year-in and year-out.

  • ROUTINE TO WATCH (according to Giglio): “We have Taka [Giese] who is a sophomore and has a really strong rings routine. He’s got a great swing and layed-out full-out dismount.”
  • SLEEPER TO WATCH (according to Giglio): “Cole [Casanova] came back slowly [last year, from injury]. He could have a breakout year and do really well in the all-around.”

16. Springfield Pride

Stephen Lewis (photo: Jess Frankl)

  • Key LossesChris GraffJosh Dieker
  • Key AdditionsTeaanou Gonzalez
  • 2018 Finish: NCAA – 16th, ECAC – 4th

Head coach Matthew Davis knows that his team lost an important class of seniors. They’re not the first team to deal with that problem, and they certainly won’t be the last. However, as everyone knows, season waits for no one. That’s why the Pride have adopted the “Always Compete” philosophy.

“Everyone reflects on how they can do better inside and outside of the gym. We did lose a big class, but we still have a great culture.” – Matthew Davis.

While the Pride will be without two of their top three overall scorers from 2018, they’ll still have last season’s ECAC all-around champion, Stephen Lewis. Lewis, who competed all-around nine times in 2018, is coming off a trip to the World Championships where he competed for Jamaica.

Springfield will be put to the test early this season with their first meet being the West Point Open. They’ll meet with three other ECAC foes in that meet in Navy, William & Mary and Army.

  • ROUTINE TO WATCH (according to Davis): “Jannik Haas on parallel bars is looking even better.”
  • SLEEPER TO WATCH (according to Davis): “One I think who will breakout is Trevor Lamberton. He was right on the cusp last year and I can see his confidence is building this season. I think he’s one who is starting to get that mindset.”

17. UIC Flames

Image result for uic men's gymnastics 2019

Sam Montague (photo via UICFlames.com)

  • Key LossesSatchel HudsonBasil Szechinski
  • Key AdditionsPaul Burney
  • 2018 Finish: NCAA – 18th, ECAC – 5th

In talking with UIC head coach Charley Nelson, I started with the obvious question. How will the team stay focused on gymnastics with everything going on around them?

“It’s a determined group of guys, for sure. They’ve got one eye on the situation and what they can do, but they also understand they have a job to do. The number one thing you can do is live each gymnastics day like it’s your last. We have to keep fighting for the program and gymnastics itself as two different things.” – Charley Nelson

Instead of going on about the state of its program, we’ll focus on the most important thing — the talented UIC Flames gymnasts who will be representing the program in 2019.

The most exciting among a crop of freshman who will help out from the jump is Paul Burney. He’s got some high-flying releases on high bar which is an event where the Flames have struggled in years past.

Another important freshman for UIC will be Kaleb Booth who Nelson described as a “power tumbler.” We should see him toward the back end of the that lineup for the Flames.

Unfortunately (and fortunately, in a way), every bit of success that UIC has this season will be fueled by a desire to stick it to the administration and show them the huge mistake they’re making in cutting the program. A top-three finish at ECAC’s as a team along with a handful of NCAA qualifiers should go a long way in doing just that.

  • ROUTINE TO WATCH (according to Nelson): “Nick Smiley on PB. He was the J.O. champ on PB this past year. The routine is packed pretty full. He’ll be right around a fifteen start value. He’s clean and he’ll turn some heads as well. We’ll get him battle tested pretty quickly.”
  • SLEEPER TO WATCH (according to Nelson): “Colin Schwartz is a sophomore, pommel horse is where he excels. He’s got a gymnast body type, swings well and has start value. He has an outside shot at fighting for a spot in the NCAA final or being near the top-ten. From a conference standpoint he might be the guy to beat that nobody knows about.”

GymACT Teams

Washington Huskies

Image result for washington men's gymnastics 2019

(photo via Washington Men’s Gymnastics)

1. Any significant additions/subtractions from last year’s team?
HC Giancarlo Mora: Washington’s significant loss from last season was Carl Meader. Here a link to Carl’s signature skill.
2. If there’s a significant addition, what event(s) will they be able to contribute most on? 
Mora: I am proud of everyone in my freshman class. However, I know all-arounders Perry Lightfoot and Jared Danek will impact our scores greatly on FX and PH, respectively.

3. Give me a sleeper gymnast who you think could make a name for themselves/surprise some people. 
Mora: I think it is time for seniors Nathan TsujiJacob Jarrett and junior Ben Bloom to show all the talent they have.
4. Is there one specific routine that people should look out for this year?
Mora: Jacob Jarrett’s routine on PB is full of excitement where he goes from one end of the bars to the other performing release after release. A Bhavsar, Tippelt and beautiful high straddle front toss are among his skills. He can easily be an All-American on this event.
5. What’s the goal for this season? 
Mora: This season’s team goal is to hit at least 26 routines out of 30 and arrive in the mid 370’s.

Temple Owls

1. Any significant additions/subtractions from last year’s team?
HC Jesse Kitzen-Abelson: A significant loss is Joe Fernandes. Significant additions are Taden Thurber and Ben Ewing.
2. Give me a sleeper gymnast who you think could make a name for themselves/surprise some people. 
Kitzen-Abelson: Nicolino DiBattista.

3. Is there one specific routine that people should look out for this year?
Kitzen-Abelson: Toby Warren on FX. His double-layout is such a beauty.
5. What’s the goal for this season? 
Kitzen-Abelson: Temple’s main goal for the season is to qualify for the USAG collegiate championships as a team and continue growing the squad by raising awareness.

Individual Event Breakdown

Here we’ll take an in-depth look at five individuals on each event that could have a legitimate shot at becoming an NCAA champion at the end of the year. The following breakdowns come from former Minnesota Golden Gopher and 2017 B1G FX champion, Alex Wittenberg, along with former Penn State Nittany Lion and team captain, Ben Cooperman.

Floor Exercise (Wittenberg)

Yul Moldauer – Oklahoma

It will come as a surprise to no one that the reigning NCAA Floor Exercise champ and World bronze medalist enters his senior season as the top dog on FX. Moldauer won the event at last year’s NCAA’s by a healthy 0.8, with both the highest D and E scores of the meet. Par for the course for Moldauer.

Sebastian Quiana – Illinois

Dubbed the kid who doesn’t miss, Quiana was a rock throughout last season and was rewarded for it at NCAAs, earning silver on FX. He’s also capable of doing a much harder set than the 5.6 he competed. Quiana and his patented consistency will again be a force for the Illini in 2019 — particularly on FX, where the New Jersey native doesn’t seem to know how to take a hop.

Brennan Pantazis – Penn State

(photo: Jess Frankl)

Pantazis kept consistent with the Penn State tradition of splashy freshmen — he claimed FX gold at last year’s Big Tens and looks to be preparing a significantly upgraded set. Pantazis also entered the postseason No. 6 nationally, another noteworthy achievement for a freshman. He’ll have to keep his power in check, but 2019 looks bright for the PSU sophomore.

Jacob Moore – Michigan

You couldn’t miss Moore warming up what seemed like an endless number of triple fulls every meet. But it paid off: the Michigan freshman last season tied with Quiana for silver at NCAAs. He also finished the regular season ranked first on FX, was a favorite for the Big Ten title, and competed with an aplomb rare for a freshman. He looks poised to turn heads again this season.

Shane Wiskus – Minnesota

(photo: Jess Frankl)

A somewhat disappointing postseason on FX for Wiskus did not accord with his season on the whole: The Minnesota freshman capped the regular season ranked second in the country and was the only gymnast to claim a coveted 15 on the event. A freshmen-heavy Minnesota squad means Wiskus will be looked to for big performances regularly, and he’ll need a strong FX to keep him atop the All-Around rankings in 2019.

Pommel Horse (Cooperman)

Stephen Nedoroscik – Penn State

(photo: Jess Frankl)

It’s hard to argue with back-to-back NCAA titles. Until someone dethrones him, Stephen Nedoroscik is the guy to beat. His lack of consistency throughout the regular season has left him looking up the leaderboard at the top guy heading into championships in his freshman and sophomore campaigns. In the biggest moment, he hasn’t disappointed. Expect Nedoroscik to be firing on all cylinders by the time his name is called in Champaign, Illinois.

Alec Yoder – Ohio State

This routine has been seen beyond the scope of NCAA men’s gymnastics on the world stage. If there is going to be someone who beats Nedoroscik, it’s Alec Yoder. What differentiates Yoder from the field is his remarkable consistency. On the hardest event in gymnastics, he never misses a beat.  Pulling in a huge 15.5 as his top score last year, Alec Yoder certainly has what it takes to grab the title.

Yul Moldauer – Oklahoma

(photo: Jess Frankl)

Probably the most unique routine of the contenders to the casual eye featuring quick paced flare work, Yul Moldauer is no stranger to seeing his name at the top of the pommel horse leaderboard.  The Oklahoma Sooner stepped up last year to take on the daunting task of filling the shoes of Allan Bower as OU’s top score on the event.  The start value may not be as high, but the World Team member seems to never miss.

Justin Karstadt – Minnesota

2018 was not the best year for Justin Karstadt on the pommel horse, but he came alive to notch a 5th place finish at the NCAA championships. A few words to describe his set: clean, smooth, and solid. His start value doesn’t match the very best, but he can take down the field in the execution panel. Expect Karstadt to set the tone on this event for the Golden Gophers all year and at the big event come April.

Genki Suzuki – Oklahoma

Genki Suzuki has quietly been a force to be reckoned with on horse for the past two years. Finding himself competing in front of big names like Moldauer and Bower, he has never really skipped a beat.  Could 2019 be the year Suzuki emerges as one of the top pommel horse guys in the country? A 6th place finish earned him All-American honors last year and he could very well find himself closer to the top in 2019.

Still Rings (Cooperman)

Alex Diab – Illinois

(photo: Jess Frankl)

He went into last season confident, and had the performance to back it up. Alex Diab took home the rings title last year with a 14.5. If anyone wants to challenge his title in the 2019 season, they are going to have to score even higher than that. The Fighting Illini features a huge start value and will likely crack the 15 mark multiple times this season.

Yul Moldauer – Oklahoma

The only guy even close to Diab at the 2018 Championships was Yul Moldauer. While Diab features near perfect lines on strength positions, Moldauer’s competitive advantage is his dismount. He sticks his double-double nearly every time. Expect Moldauer to be in the running once again for the still rings title.

Josiah Eng – Stanford

It was unfortunate to see Josiah Eng sidelined for the entirety of last year’s season due to an injury. The year before, he was the top guy in the country during the regular season. Eng could possibly have the highest start value in the NCAA in 2019. Look for Stanford’s top ring guy to be back in the lineup and stronger than ever.

Peter Daggett – Oklahoma

(photo: Jess Frankl)

It has been a tough college run so far for Peter Daggett, with injuries plaguing him throughout. That doesn’t mean he should be overlooked coming into 2019. With Reese Rickett graduating and moving on from the team, the Oklahoma Sooners will likely look to this set to fill the big hole left behind.  Daggett is going to be a big score on rings this year.

Noah Roberson – Penn State

(photo: Jess Frankl)

How does Noah Roberson find himself in the mix for the 2019 Still Rings title without notching All-American honors the year before? Progression. Roberson was ranked 64th on rings at the end of the 2017 regular season. In 2018, he shot up the charts to number six. His performance in Chicago last year left him one tenth out of All-American honors. If there is any kind of pattern here, watch out for Roberson in 2019.

Vault (Wittenberg)

Anton Stephenson – Nebraska

(photo: Jess Frankl)

It’s always a treat to watch a Yurchenko 2.5 get stuck cold, and Stephenson isn’t shy about doling out the goods: the back-to-back Big Ten vault champ has an uncanny ability to stick a vault. No one expects that quality to elude the Nebraska senior in 2019.

Yul Moldauer – Oklahoma

Moldauer’s pristine execution makes up for what he lacks in power. The reigning NCAA vault champ notched a 9.7 E score last year to add another gold to his collection. Moldauer just has to do what he’s always done to remain a top contender on vault in 2019.

Tanner Justus – Oklahoma

(photo: Jess Frankl)

The raw power of Justus’s vault is a perfect complement to Moldauer’s for the Sooners. The Oklahoma junior was 0.1 behind Moldauer last year at NCAA’s, keeping true to the Justus tradition of vault prowess. The OU junior should have no issue making similar strides in 2019.

Matt Wenske – Oklahoma

Wenske has been beset by injuries during his two years at Oklahoma, but that doesn’t mean he’s slowing down: the junior’s Kaz double full looks ready, meaning he’ll have a 0.4 advantage in start value over almost everyone else. If he can steer clear of injuries, Wenske will be at the top of the vault rankings come championships.

Anthony McCallum – Michigan

McCallum will probably be the only other gymnast to compete a 5.6 this season. That puts the Michigan senior in a position he’s familiar with: being the man to beat. McCallum won vault at the 2016 and 2017 NCAA’s and has plenty of other titles to point to. McCallum is almost unbeatable when he puts his Tsuk double pike to his feet, so that’ll be his task in 2019.

Parallel Bars (Wittenberg)

Yul Moldauer – Oklahoma

(photo: Jess Frankl)

Moldauer’s difficulty put him well above the rest of the pack on PB last season: His 6.0 carried him to victory at last year’s championships despite an uncharacteristically shaky execution. We’ve heard this story already, but it rings as true as ever on PB: Moldauer has to do what he’s always done to remain ahead of his competitors. No one would be surprised if he pulls away further either.

Johnny Jacobson – Illinois

Jacobson has had an illustrious career on PB that includes a Big Ten championship and a second-place NCAA finish. Though it was somewhat of an up-and-down 2018 on PB for the Illinois junior, whose No. 9 ranking at the end of the regular season didn’t seem to truly reflect his potential, Jacobson showed up when it mattered most, an ability he’ll continue to possess in 2019.

Justin Karstadt – Minnesota

Karstadt in 2018 bounced back from a disappointing sophomore season to tie for third at NCAA’s on PB. And although he wasn’t at the top of the rankings during the regular season, his upswing in the postseason fitted him with the confidence to make huge strides in his senior season. Look for Karstadt to compete PB with newfound flair in 2019.

Sam Zakutney – Penn State

Zakutney tied with fellow his Canadian to earn bronze at last season’s NCAA’s on PB, marking his second consecutive All-American on the event. The PSU junior had a much more consistent season than Karstadt and Jacobson, and entered the postseason ranked second. Zakutney should have no trouble keeping up with the PB successes he’s already enjoyed in his penultimate season with the Nittany Lions.

Cameron Bock – Michigan

(photo: Jess Frankl)

Bock is coming off of a PB All-American in 2018 and a stellar performance at the Pan American Championships in September. That’s expected to goose up the Michigan sophomore’s confidence in 2019, a year of high-hopes for the Wolverines. Bock is one of the team’s leaders, and Michigan will need him to build on the composure he exhibited last season for their hopes to be realized in 2019.

High Bar (Cooperman)

Grant Breckenridge – Stanford

(photo: Jess Frankl)

The one-two punch Robert Neff and Grant Breckenridge provided in the back of Stanford’s lineup last year was something else. With Neff moving on, the door is open for Breckenridge to be the top dog.  His set is stacked, featuring huge tkachevs and taks right to handstand. The Illinois native will be the guy to beat on high bar.

Ross Thompson – Illinois

A true leader for the Fighting Illini, Ross Thompson puts up numbers on high bar. Thompson’s performance last year left him one spot out of All-American status. With big shoes to fill after Tyson Bull’s departure, this guy won’t disappoint.

Sam Zakutney – Penn State

Sam Zakutney has huge potential on high bar. Tying for seventh last year in Chicago, only two people ahead of him will be in the field in 2019. The Canadian will likely benefit from a big increase in start value this coming season, he certainly has what it takes to bring home the NCAA title.

Levi Anderson – Oklahoma

Zakutney was joined last year in his seventh place tie with Levi Anderson. The Oklahoma Sooner has been one of the best high bar guys in the country for the past few years. His layed-out double-double dismount can easily put him on the podium with a stick.

Genki Suzuki – Oklahoma

(photo: Jess Frankl)

Another Oklahoma Sooner finds himself in contention for the high bar title. Genki Suzuki’s progression under Mark William’s has been nothing short of remarkable. Suzuki took the floor at the 2018 NCAA Championships ranked number one on high bar, but was unable to land himself in the top eight. 2019 offers him a shot at redemption, and he will be looking for that top spot.

2019 CGA Preseason Coaches Poll

The College Gymnastics Association has released its 2019 CGA Preseason Coaches Poll. They are based off of each (20) schools receiving a single vote.

To nobody’s surprise, the Oklahoma Sooners (419 points) top the poll having received 19 of the 20 possible votes. As they go for their fifth-consecutive NCAA title, they will do so while returning the best gymnast in the nation, Yul Moldauer. Moldauer returns to Norman for his senior year having already won seven individual NCAA titles. Coming in at No. 2 is the Stanford Cardinal (390 points) with a single first place vote. Stanford returns a few key seniors (including Grant Breckenridge) but it’s their impressive freshman class that could separate them from other teams. At No. 3 is the Illinois Fighting Illini (366 points). Justin Spring’s squad will hope to use the momentum of a B1G team title to propel them on to a successful 2019 season. They will be dealing with the departure of a few key gymnasts including, but not limited to, Bobby Baker, Chandler Eggleston and Brandon Ngai. The No. 4 spot belongs to the Minnesota Golden Gophers (353 points). Similar to the Illini, the Gophers will be dealing with a massive exodus of important talent. Their momentum will come in the form of a runner-up finish at the 2018 NCAA Championships. Rounding out the top-five we have the Michigan Wolverines (324 points). This young team is now a year older and will return a pair of key gymnasts, Cameron Bock and Jacob Moore, who are now sophomores.

Moving down the line to No. 6 is the Ohio State Buckeyes (323 points). No doubt, the face of this team is Alec Yoder who will return for his final season in a OSU uniform. Sorely missed will be his former partner-in-crime, Sean Melton. Following Ohio State at No. 7 is the Nebraska Cornhuskers (313 points). The losses of gymnasts like Kyle King and Christopher Stephenson will be felt, though the latter’s brother, Anton Stephenson, is still there to help the Huskers. Lincoln will be home to an intriguing group of newcomers as well. The eight spot belongs to the Penn State Nittany Lions (301 points). Fortunately for PSU, they will be returning a vast majority of their team, including two-time pommel horse national champion Stephen Nedoroscik and All-American Sam Zakutney. No. 9 is JD Reive’s Iowa Hawkeyes (267 points). Reive’s squad is fairly young and will feature a pair of talented sophomores in Bennet Huang and and Addison Chung. Claiming the final spot in the top-ten is the defending ECAC champion Navy Midshipmen (225 points). The Mids will feature just three seniors in 2019 to go along with their top freshman, Josh Williams.

The remaining ten teams go as follows:

11. California (217 points)
12. Air Force (208 points)
13. William & Mary (171 points)
14. Arizona State (158 points)
15. Army (153 points)
16. Springfield College (117 points)
17. Washington (100 points)
18. UIC (91 points)
19. Temple (57 points)

20. SC United (47 points)

“After a lengthy preseason of preparation, the 2019 NCAA season is rapidly approaching,” said CGA President and Minnesota head coach, Mike Burns. “After one of the most well-attended and closely contested NCAA Championships held at UIC last April, these teams will soon be doing battle again in the very near future. The release of the CGA Preseason Coaches Poll is the green light letting the thousands of fans of college gymnastics know that it’s time to get ready to witness some outstanding athletes performing some outstanding skills in what will prove to be some epic contests between powerhouse programs. It’s going to be another exciting season of NCAA Men’s Gymnastics and you won’t want to miss any of it!”

The majority of teams’ seasons will get underway the weekend of January 11 (with meets like the West Point Open and Rocky Mountain Open). The conclusion of the 2019 campaign will come at the NCAA Championships in Champaign, IL on April 19-20.

Make sure to follow all of the action this season on the CGA’s social accounts: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.