Categorized | Featured, Men's Gymnastics, NCAA

Ohio State, Oklahoma and William & Mary Win Conference Titles

Posted on 09 April 2017 by admin

Senior National Team member Sean Melton and Jake Martin competed together in the AA for the first time this season, and the result was a bunch of much-need points on the board for Ohio State.  Bouncing back from last season’s injury plague, Martin has been the Buckeyes’ work horse all season long, making him the 6th-ranked all-arounder in the country.  He nearly hit for his average (83.30) and finished 2nd to his long-time teammate.  Also brushing back nagging injuries, Melton competed in his first AA of the season (85.05), successfully defending his Big Ten title.  More importantly, the Buckeyes (418.60) needed every point to fend off late-surging Illinois (416.40) to win their second straight Big Ten team championship.  On March 24, Ohio State edged Illinois in a dual meet by 1.6 points.  Two weeks later in the Big Ten Championships, the margin was only slightly more–2.2 points.

After a disappointing PH rotation (65.15), the Illini roared back on SR (68.45), VT (71.95) and PB (70.75) to make it a close contest.  Consistency won it for Ohio State, scoring 70-plus on three events and 68-plus on the rest.  The Buckeyes finished up on PH, hitting four out of five routines (69.25) to seal the win.  Minnesota (413.30) led for much of the meet, and had a 0.7 lead going into their final two rotations (PH,SR), but it was too much of a task.  The Gophers struggled on two of their best events (FX,VT), making the team title out of reach.

Penn State (411.20) and Nebraska (410.00) nearly hit for their season averages to take 4th and 5th place, respectively.  Iowa (402.15) and Michigan (401.25) completed the final order of finish.  All seven teams finished in the exact same order as their final rankings in the regular season standings.

Alec Yoder and Jake Dastrup were both valuable four-event stalwarts for the Buckeyes.  If not for having to repeat his PH dismount, Yoder (14.00) would have had the highest qualifying score for event finals.  He earlier tallied his season best on PB (14.70).  Melton became the first Buckeye to win back-to-back AA titles since Blaine Wilson (3 straight titles).  Illinois’ Bobby Baker sparked his team’s late rally, putting up key scores on SR (14.00), VT (14.15) and PB (14.70).  Alex Diab and Chandler Eggleston each had outstanding four-event scores.  The Illini did it by committee, and did not field anybody in the AA.  Team Stephenson, aka Anton (82.35) and Chris (82.05), took the 3rd and 4th spots in the AA for Nebraska.

The two nights of Big Ten competition were televised by BTN, culminating in Saturday night’s Event Finals.  It was a big night for Illinois, as the host Illini won three individual titles.  Brandon Ngai now has a Big Ten PH trophy to complement the one he earned at last year’s NCAA Championships.  His winning score on PH (14.825) was good enough to outlast a talented field.  Alex Diab won on SR (14.875) and Johnny Jacobson earned gold on PB (14.55).  Minnesota’s Alex Wittenberg edged out Diab for the FX title (14.55) and Nebraska’s Anton Stephenson took home honors on VT (14.95) in an exciting contest over the Buckeyes’ Seth Delbridge (14.925).  Ohio State’s Martin closed out his great Big Ten Championships career, winning a very close contest on HB (14.375) over Iowa’s Cory Paterson (14.350) and the Illini’s Tyson Bull (14.275).  The top six finishers on each event earned All-Big Ten honors.

The first time Oklahoma and Stanford met, it was an epic bloodbath.  The second time, not so bruising.  The Sooners (432.20) handily won their sixth straight MPSF team title over the Cardinal (426.85), Cal (410.10) and Air Force (402.90).  In this matchup, the top two teams had their best all-arounders .  It was another classic battle between the nation’s top-ranked gymnasts Yul Moldauer and Akash Modi.  The two traded leads throughout the match, and Moldauer took a small lead into the final rotation after scoring 15.40 on SR, 14.50 on VT and 15.50 on PB.  Modi prevailed in the end (88.00), after scoring 14.70 on HB and 14.60 on FX.  Moldauer (87.60) was dinged for several deductions on his last event (HB-13.45), leaving the door open for Modi to clinch the title on his final event (FX).  Although Moldauer was edged by Modi for the big prize, he still struck gold on three events (FX-14.75, SR and PB).  He now holds the season’s best scores on FX, SR and PB.  Modi was squeaky clean the whole meet, thus earning the top spot on the podium.  Immediately after the meet, Modi was awarded as the MPSF’s Gymnast of the Year for the fourth straight year.

Oklahoma scored 71-plus on five events to win in their typical dominant style.  Allan Bower was strong in the AA (86.00), capturing 3rd place.  Levi Anderson (HB-15.00) and freshman Matt Wenske (VT-15.05) also hit for the 15 mark, winning their respective events.  The Sooners also got some big production from Peter Daggett (SR-14.60), Thao Hoang (SR-14.85), Alex Powarzynski (VT-14.90), Tanner Justus (VT-14.80), Hunter Justus (PB-14.70) and Colin Van Wicklen (HB-14.70).

Stanford had a great balanced scoring attack, tallying their second best team score of the season.  They enjoyed great four-event outings by Taylor Seaton (14.40 avg) and Robert Neff (14.375 avg).   Josiah Eng came close to winning his first MPSF title, but had to settle for 2nd place on SR (15.10).

Air Force’s Tim Wang was the big winner on PH (14.75), thus preventing an Oklahoma sweep.  Wang also added a 4th place finish in the AA (84.30) to lead the Falcons.  Cal’s season high will guarantee them a trip to West Point for the NCAA Championships.  Aiding their cause were season highs on three events  PH (66.05), VT (70.85) and PB (68.85).  The Bears were led by Aaron Mah (82.75) and Yordan Aleksandrov (82.35) in the AA.

It took a season best team performance to put William & Mary (404.70) on top of the ECAC over Navy (402.55), Army (392.45), Springfield (392.20) and host UIC (384.55).  The Tribe came from behind in their last two rotations (VT,PB) to earn the win.  They captured half of the team event titles (PH,SR,VT).  Leading the charge were event winners Jacopo Gliozzi (PH-15.10), Peter Makey (SR-13.80) and Neal Courter (VT-14.35).  Gliozzi’s sizzling score on PH is one of the nation’s highest this season.  Other event winners were Navy’s Jonny Tang (FX-14.10, AA-T1st-80.90) and Tanner West (PB-14.40) and Army’s duo of Leo Genders (HB-13.85) and Nathan Goff (AA-T1st-80.90).  Springfield boasted their best team score of the year, led by Chris Lewis (AA-79.50) and Chris Graff (78.50).  UIC, in rebuilding mode, came close to their season high.  They appear on track to be a more competitive team next season.

The 2017 NCAA Championships take place on April 21-22 at West Point.  The top 12 qualifying teams and individual qualifiers will be divided up into two sessions on Friday, April 21, with the top six teams advancing to the the finals on Saturday.

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