Posted on 15 January 2017 by admin
The Oklahoma Sooners picked up right where they left off last April. The top-ranked 2017 pre-season favorites looked like veritable code beaters in their debut at the Rocky Mountain Open. The new code changes account for an approximate loss of about 0.5 points per routine (~0.4 for vault). Lower scores relative to recent seasons will be the norm. No matter, the men from Norman made the most of the changes (433.20) to handily defeat host Air Force (407.35), OU’s club team (375.85) and SoCal United (347.25). Allan Bower and Yul Moldauer were the leading code beaters, as Bower posted an outstanding 88.75 AA and Moldauer boasted a gaudy 15.10 average on three events (PH-14.80, SR-15.10, PB-15.50). Moldauer’s sparkling PB routine was the weekend’s top-scoring highlight. Bower blasted out of the gates, tallying scores of 15 on PH (15.35), SR (15.35) and PB (15.00). Hunter Justus also joined the 15 Club, pitching in a 15.10 on SR. Freshman Matt Wenske celebrated his first collegiate competition by winning the VT title (14.95). The Sooners captured event titles on five events, with Air Force’s Chase Cannon winning the remaining title on HB (14.45). OU’s Todd Dowdy won on FX (14.70). Oklahoma and Air Force will hit the road next week, traveling to Nebraska and Minnesota, respectively.
Coach Mark Williams has done a great job of preparing his high-performance thoroughbreds for the new code, especially his higher octane performers. Of course, having overall good team health and depth helps, too. The Sooners’ season opener was a scoring eye-opener. No telling where their ceiling is going to end up.
Illinois (412.15) won their 3rd straight Windy City Invitational over Ohio State (403.55), Michigan (398.10), Minnesota (397.10), Iowa (387.55) and UIC (360.25). The Illini won in dominant fashion, earning event titles on five events. Tyson Bull (HB-14.40), Matt Foster (PH-14.30), Alex Diab (SR-14.25), Bobby Baker (VT-14.70) and Johnny Jacobson (PB-14.60) led the charge. Michigan’s Emyre Cole won the FX title outright (14.90), while Ohio State’s Alec Yoder (PH) and Tristan Burke (SR) shared the top spot on their respective events. The Buckeyes’ Jake Martin, waging a successful comeback from an achilles injury, won the AA title (83.40). Injuries have taken a toll, leaving many of the teams in this field at far less than full strength. As those affected heal up, we’ll soon be seeing some higher scores.
Penn State won their fourth straight West Point Open, posting the weekend’s third-highest team score (412.35) over Nebraska (410.60), host Army (393.50), Arizona State (392.75), Navy (391.25), Springfield (390.55) and Temple (372.25). Michael Burns paced the Nittany Lions by winning the AA (82.70) during Friday’s team competition. Penn State earned four individual titles in Saturday’s event finals. Freshman Favian Valdez (AA runner-up) earned his first collegiate title on FX (14.50). Colin Coates (PH-14.70), Dom DiFulvio (SR-14.75) and Burns (HB-14.65) rounded out the title winners for Penn State. Nebraska had two event winners, as Antonio Castro struck gold on VT (14.05) and Daniel Leal earned victory on PB (14.60).
In a Sunday weekend finale, Stanford (418.10) lived up to their No. 2 pre-season ranking, spanking cross-town rival Cal (403.15) at the Big Flip Off in Berkeley. The Cardinal swept all individual event titles and team events. Akash Modi tallied a couple of 15s, highlighted by event-winning routines on PH (15.05) and PB (15.45). He also captured the AA in convincing fashion (87.15). The remaining event titles were divvied up among Jordan DeClerk (FX-14.75), Josiah Eng (SR-14.50), Barrett Weiss (VT-14.70) and Robert Neff (HB-14.60). Neff is the NCAA’s top scorer on HB so far this young season. Cal was led by Yordan Aleksandrov (AA-81.20) and Aaron Mah (AA-80.95). These two teams will meet again on Saturday at the Stanford Open.
Although it’s early in the season, perhaps it’s already evident the top two senior gymnasts vying for the Nissen-Emery Award are Akash Modi and Allan Bower. Both are poised for their final season of high-end productivity. Both are already toying with hitting for 90 in the AA. Any gymnast hitting for 90-plus this season will have produced quite an achievement. The injury bug has hit some high-profile gymnasts, but by the time the NCAA’s best all-arounders hit their strides, the number of those achievers could be surprising. The 440-Club of the past Quad will morph into something different. Will it be 425? 430? The new code is going to make for an interesting season.