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Oklahoma, Minnesota & Iowa Vault to New Heights; Ohio State Nips Penn State at the Buzzer

Posted on 12 February 2017 by admin

Although the final scoreboard may indicate otherwise, Friday night’s tri-meet featuring host Iowa, Minnesota and Oklahoma produced enough fireworks to be seen all the way to Omaha. Oklahoma (426.60) generated just a few more fireworks than Minnesota (417.20) and Iowa (414.65) to win a very exciting meet.  The Gophers and Hawkeyes posted several individual and team season highs, including their best team all-around scores.  Bean counters lost count of all the season highs for all three after the first few rotations.  If not for a few untimely falls & miscues, the Sooners would have at least matched their season average of nearly 430.  Still, they hit 425-plus for the fourth consecutive time.

The evening’s highlight was each team’s VT rotation.  Iowa got things started with a dazzling 72.65, easily their best score of the season.  Andrew Botto (14.85) led his team’s record-breaking performance, followed by Dylan Ellsworth (14.70), Mark Springett (14.60) and freshmen Josh Zeal (14.25) and Andrew Herrador (14.25).

Next came Oklahoma, whose lowest countable score was an astounding 14.80 (Colin Van Wicklen).  Tanner Justus and Todd Dowdy each produced season highs (14.95), and Yul Moldauer followed with his season best of 14.90.  Topping it all off was anchorman Allan Bower with an eye-popping NCAA season high (15.20).  Add them all up, and the Sooners retain their top-ranked status on VT with an incredible new high (74.80).

Third-ranked on VT, the Minnesota did not disappoint.  Yaro Pochinka (14.95) led his team to the nation’s 3rd-best scoring effort this season (73.10).  Their lowest countable score was 14.20 (Shaun Herzog).  Right behind Yaro the Beast were Joel Gagnon (14.85), Vitaly Kan (14.75) and Justin Karstadt (14.35).  Accounting for the new code, the three-team explosion could possibly be the top-scoring effort in NCAA history for a tri-meet.  If not, it was still quite a thrilling highlight.

Oklahoma hit for 70-plus on everything except for PH (67.00).  Moldauer, in a great tuneup for next weekend’s Winter Cup, had another strong AA performance (87.60).  He also captured meet titles on FX (14.85), SR (15.10) and PB (15.50).  His scoring effort on PB (his 3rd score of 15.50) will keep him top ranked on that event.  In his first significant contribution since breaking his finger three weeks ago, Allan Bower put up a 14.24 four-event average, took 2nd place on PH (14.55),  and of course, shined on VT.  Thao Hoang had a three-event average of 14.23, including 14.50 on SR.  Freshman Tanner Justus was again a force on FX (14.30) and VT (14.95).  Genki Suzuki rounded out the balanced scoring with a 14.05 four-event average, including a season best 14.70 on PB.

Minnesota regained their mojo on FX (70.15) and VT (73.10) to propel them to a nearly four-point improvement over their previous season standard.  The Gophers’ VT score is now the third highest recorded this season, behind the two higher scores turned in by Oklahoma.  Their effort on FX gave them the team title on that event.  Justin Karstadt remained his team’s rock, compiling five-event 14.12 average that included his season high on SR (14.65).  Joel Gagnon put up some very important points with a 14.01 four-event average, highlighted by his season high on VT (14.85).  Vitaly Kan (FX-14.30, VT-14.75) and Yaro Pochinka (SR-14.50, VT-14.95) also put up some big numbers for the Gophers.

Andrew Botto (AA-80.40, SR-14.20, VT-14.85, PB-14.25), Dylan Ellsworth (SR-14.45, VT-14.70, PB-14.35), Mark Springett (SR-14.50, VT-14.60) and Corey Paterson (VT-14.15, PB-14.30) were among the scoring leaders for the Hawkeyes.  Austin Hodges had an outstanding night, with a 14.32 three-event average (PH-14.65, PB-14.10, HB-14.20).  Hodges (PH) and Paterson (HB) both had season high scores to earn event crowns.  Iowa had three team event scores of 70-plus (SR-70.15, VT-72.65, PB-70.45), and nearly missed out on a fourth on HB (69.55).  It was Iowa’s second meet of the week, with only three day’s “rest,” so the upcoming Winter Cup break will be especially welcome.

At the weekend’s most exciting meet in Happy Valley, Ohio State and Penn State followed up Friday night’s fireworks show with one of their own on Saturday afternoon.  The teams were essentially knotted up for five rotations, with Penn State leading by less than a point going into the final rotation.  With the Buckeyes (419.15) finishing on PB, it took three big scores from Sean Melton (14.70), Jake Dastrup (14.50) and Andrew Rickly (14.30) to lead a come-from-behind charge to overcome the Nittany Lions (417.75).  Penn State easily achieved their season top score by well over 3 points, and Ohio State proved last week’s 422.20 was certainly no fluke.  The teams combined for seven team event scores of 70-plus.

Melton’s four event average (14.54) was his biggest team contribution of the season.  He had meet-high scores on FX (15.05) and SR (14.75).  He now owns the nation’s top score on FX.  Jake Martin followed up last week’s big performance with a 14.14 four-event average that included key scoring on PH (14.20), VT (14.25) and HB (14.60).  Dastrup was his usual consistent self on PH (13.65), VT (14.40) and PB.  Alex Yoder posted the nation’s second best score this season on PH (15.30).

Penn State freshman Sam Zakutney had a career high in the AA (83.15), including the meet’s top score on PB (14.75).  Early on, the Nittany Lions established new season standards on PH (71.30) and SR (70.25).  Freshman Steve Nedoroscik (14.80) and Leroy Clarke (14.70) led the team on PH, while Dom DiFulvio (14.50), Clarke (14.05) and Chris Sands (14.00) keyed the attack on SR.  Penn State had team winning efforts on those two events.

With all the recent blabber about returning to the “10,” this meet could not have possibly come at a better time.  Close, exciting meets in NCAA Men’s Gymnastics are a reality.  In fact, it happens every single season!  Folks are too caught up with Oklahoma’s current dominance.  Since 2007, five different teams have won national titles.  Let that sink in!  This sport is cyclical.

Stanford (422.25) posted their third straight team score of 420+, to defeat Nebraska (408.80), host Cal (404.05) and Arizona State (387.70).  The Cardinal had 70+ scores on five events and won 5 of 7 individual titles.  Event winners for Stanford were Jordan DeClerk (FX-14.90), Drew Willoughby (PH-14.35), Josiah Eng (15.20) and Akash Modi (HB-15.05).  Robert Neff scored a season high 84.65 to capture the AA.  Neff briefly had the nation’s top HB score (14.95), but moments later Modi took that honor away.  Eng topped the 15 mark for the first time to earn his second title of the year.

Nebraska had a new season high on VT (71.10), led by event winner Anton Stephenson (14.75).  The Huskers also hit the 70 mark on FX (71.45), with some nice scoring from Austin Epperson (14.60), Stephenson (14.45), Chris Stephenson (14.35) and Jake Bonnay (14.35).

Cal also established a new season high on VT (70.80), led by Aaron Mah (14.50).  They also set a new high on FX (70.35), also led by Mah (14.70).  The Bears’ Yordan Aleksandrov had big scores on PB (14.55) and HB (14.80) to give him an 81.70 in the AA.  He was the event winner on PB.  Mah placed 3rd in the AA (81.50).  Nico Del Junco was a big contributor on FX (14.25) and VT (14.20).

Arizona State had new season highs on FX (70.40) behind the scoring of Nicholas Garcia (14.40), Riley Ward (14.35), Daniel Bronnenberg (14.15) and Zack Mollett (14.10).  Bronnenberg (14.30), Garcia (14.30) and Anthony Mills (14.55) were the Devils’ leading scorers on VT.

At the All-Academy Championships, Air Force’s Tim Wang had a big romp, winning five out of six events enroute to an 85.35 AA.  Army was unable to make the trip due to weather, turning the meet into a duel between Air Force and Navy.  Wang’s exploits helped the Falcons (405.80) to victory over the Midshipmen (394.20).  Wang’s big scores came on PH (14.60), SR (14.85) and VT (14.55).  Top scorers for Navy were Noah Beeman (AA-79.00), Tanner West (78.75) and Jonny Tang (78.50).

William & Mary (394.70) prevailed over UIC (376.95) at the Peachtree Invitational.  Earning event titles for the Tribe were Jacopo Gliozzi (PH-14.10), Rob Meyer (SR-13.80, PB-13.90), Tim O’Neill (VT-14.30) and Neal Courter (HB-13.35).  Alex Dumstorf won the lone event title (FX-14.20) for the Flames.



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