Categorized | Club, Elite, Featured, Men's Gymnastics, NCAA

Nebraska, Illinois, Penn State & Stanford Win Opening Contests to Kick Off 2018 Season

Posted on 14 January 2018 by admin

Nebraska (407.70) posted the opening weekend’s best team score to outlast a Rocky Mountain Open field that included Ohio State (404.45), Arizona State (390.95), host Air Force (389.95), Olympic Training Center (386.45) and Washington (370.60).  The Huskers were led by two-event winner Kyle King (FX-14.65, VT-14.85) and Antonio Castro (HB-14.00).  Alec Yoder led Ohio State with a two-event winning effort (PH-15.05, SR-14.70).  Air Force’s Fletcher Braunton was right behind Yoder on SR (14.65)  Freshman Sean Neighbarger had a great collegiate debut for Ohio State with a couple of 2nd-place finishes (FX-14.30, VT-14.50).  Yoder posted a 14.35 four-event average and looks like he will be a scoreboard beast this season.  Fellow Buck Chris Coombs posted the highest collegiate score on PB (14.15) and Nebraska’s Castro took highest collegiate honors on HB (14.00).  The Bucks received a scare during the FX rotatation, as All-American Seth Delbridge went down with an ankle injury.  No word yet as to the extent of the injury, but it didn’t appear to involve the Achilles.  Sean Melton did not make the trip to Colorado and is reportedly resting up to nurse some nagging issues.  Nebraska will meet up again with Ohio State next weekend in Lincoln, NE.

Sam Mikulak competed AA for the first time in over a year, putting up an impressive 87.80 that included a couple of sparkling scores on PB (15.50) and HB (15.15).  Mikulak’s OTC teammate Kanji Oyama was right behind him (82.30), while 15-year-old Taylor Burkhart of 5280 had the third highest AA score (79.65) of the evening.  Class of ’18 Nebraska signee Nikita Bolotsky, now training at the OTC, finished in 4th place (79.15).

Click here for complete Rocky Mountain Open results.

Illinois (404.30) made it four-in-a-row at the Windy City Invitational, knocking off Minnesota (401.40), Iowa (393.20) and UIC (356.80).  A trio of Illini captured event titles, led by Brandon Ngai (PH-15.25), Alex Diab (SR-14.45) and Bobby Baker (HB-13.60).  Yaro Pochinka (VT-14.60) and freshman Shane Wiskus (FX-14.15) nabbed individual event titles to lead the Gophers.  Wiskus capped off his brilliant collegiate debut by winning the AA (81.25).  Iowa’s Austin Hodges earned the Hawkeyes’ lone event title with the best score on PB (14.25), and he also took 2nd place on PH (14.70) with a very notable score.

Penn State (406.85) took control from the outset to upend runner-up Navy (395.05), host Army (380.35), William & Mary (378.30), Springfield (369.25) and Temple (223.05) to win their fifth-straight West Point Open.  The Nittany Lions notched top scores on all six events, and sophomore Sam Zakutney captured the AA (81.35).  Freshman Brennan Pantazis earned a 2nd-place AA finish (78.80) in his collegiate debut.  Springfield’s Joshua Dieker took the 3rd AA spot (74.05).

The two-day event concluded with event finals on Saturday.  Pantazis earned top honors on FX (14.25) and PB (13.90).  Penn State won two more events, as Stephen Nedoroscik snagged the title on PH (15.00) and Michael Burns won on HB (13.55).  Navy’s Tanner West posted the highest score on VT (14.10) and William & Mary’s Jeremiah McReynolds had the top score on SR (13.50).

Robert Neff spearheaded Stanford’s (402.15) win over Cal (390.00) and SoCal United (291.45) at the Cal Benefit Cup. Neff captured two event titles (PH-13.90, HB-14.20) and posted the weekend’s top AA score (82.85).  Freshman Thomas Lee made his first collegiate outing a good one by winning on SR (13.90).  Freshman Andrew Bitner showed he will be producing big numbers for the Cardinal by placing 3rd in the AA (80.60).  Aaron Mah was a workhorse for the Bears, placing 2nd in the AA (80.70) and winning event titles on FX (14.00) and VT (14.20).  Yordan Aleksandrov also struck gold for the Bears, earning the title on PB (14.35).  Freshman Shane Sadighi had a nice debut for the Bears, putting up 75.25 in the AA.   Click here for the Cal Benefit Cup stats.

The relatively low weekend scores seem to be indicative of an effort to align more with FIG scoring.  A grand total of three 15s were recorded… All on PH!  It looks like Brandon Ngai, Alec Yoder and Stephen Nedoroscik will be duking it out again for the NCAA’s top prize on horse.  Fewer than a half dozen team event scores hit the 70 mark.  Aside from one team score of 70-plus on SR, the remainder were all achieved on VT.

The first weekend of NCAA Men’s Gymnastics produced some great gymnastics, of course, but the season did not get off to a good start with live scoring.  Out of four meets, only two live feeds were available, and those were shaky at best.  We can do a lot better than this, and expectations are for things to certainly improve… Soon! As for live streams hiding behind a paywall? No comment!

A lot of freshmen turned in some good performances this weekend, but the the two gymnasts who stuck out the most were Minnesota’s Shane Wiskus and Penn State’s Brennan Pantazis.  Both played big roles for their respective teams, and are clearly impact players.  We’ll see plenty more from them and from others as the season progresses.

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3 Comments For This Post

  1. Diane Boomsma Says:

    Did Oklahoma compete at all this past weekend in an invitational — and if not, why not?

  2. admin Says:

    No, they did not. No idea why, other than perhaps a purposeful scheduling decision. No big deal at this juncture.

  3. John Scanlan Says:

    Oklahoma will complete Rocky Mountain Open this Saturday (01-20-2018) at the Air Force Academy following a scheduling snafu.

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