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Oklahoma New Scoring Leader; Michigan Edges Ohio State; Huskers, Gophers Go Off on Vault

Posted on 04 February 2018 by admin

The anticipated showdown between three of the nation’s top-5 teams never materialized into the close tussle many had hoped for.  Oklahoma came out blazing, scoring seven points higher on their first two events (FX-69.05, PH-69.70) than they did last weekend.  The outcome after that outburst was never in doubt as the top-ranked Sooners (418.00) overwhelmed 4th-ranked Stanford (410.50) and 2nd-ranked Nebraska (403.80).  The meet featured five AAers in preparation for Winter Cup in two weeks.  Four of them posted scores of 80-plus, and Oklahoma had two of them.  Yul Moldauer, in his first AA competition, became the new NCAA leader (87.15), and Levi Anderson’s total (82.20) is now the fifth best.

The Sooners again scored 70-plus on three events (SR,VT,PB) to tally the NCAA’s top team score this season.  Though failing to hit the 420 mark, it is inevitable they will, and just a matter of when.  The way this season is going, the Sooners will also have some company in the 420 Club.  Oklahoma put the contest away with their dominating performance on SR, compiling the top four scores, led by event winner Moldauer (14.60), Reese Rickett (14.20), Jake Maloley (14.10) and Anderson (13.90).  Moldauer, Genki Suzuki (14.15) and Brian Schibler (14.00) posted three of the top four marks on PH to garner the top team score this season (69.70).  Moldauer (14.70) and Hunter Justus (14.65) led their charge on VT.  Moldauer added PB (14.95) and FX (14.40) titles to his big haul, and he remains the national leader on PB.  Oklahoma won four out of six team events to cruise to a surprisingly easy win.

Oklahoma fans learned during the Fox Sports broadcast that Matt Wenske appears to be out for the season with a torn lat.

Stanford, last weekend’s scoring leader, never really got untracked.  The Cardinal scored 70 on only one event (VT-71.70), which was a new high for them.  They also scored a new high on the only team event they won (HB-67.90), scoring at roughly their season average on everything else.  Event winner Robert Neff remains the NCAA leader on HB (14.55), and was superlative again in the AA, surpassing his previous high (83.45).  The Cardinal hit the 410 mark for the second time, getting great production from freshman Blake Sun (PB-14.30), Connor Lewis (FX-14.00) and Jacob Barrus (PB-14.10).  They also got a trio of 14.50 VT scores from Bryan Perla, Gareth Weiss and Bailey Perez.  Ryan Sheppard (80.40) and freshman Andrew Bitner (78.80) also put up some nice AA scores.

The evening’s highlight for Nebraska was their explosion on VT.  Event winner Kyle King (15.10) and Anton Stephenson (15.00) led the Huskers to the NCAA’s top team production this season (73.20).  Jake Bonnay (14.55), Zach Peters (14.30) and Antonio Castro (14.20) also contributed to the air assault.  King (14.30) and Stephenson (14.25) were also big scorers on FX.  Castro won Nebraska’s lone event title on PH (14.60).  Daniel Leal (13.90) and freshman Griffin Kehler (13.35) were the Huskers’ top producers on PB and HB, respectively.

It’s really tough to go on the road to face a high-energy raucous OU crowd, especially when it’s a home opener.  Stanford and Nebraska will bounce back.

The weekend’s first contest turned into a classic battle between two storied programs.  For the second straight weekend, Michigan (411.85) needed another great start to edge Ohio State (410.65).  Despite a furious Ohio State rally in the final rotation to take a narrow lead, senior Dima Belanovski nailed what amounted to a walk-off HB routine (13.10) to clinch the win.  The Buckeyes had posted a season high on PB (70.25) to overcome a deficit, becoming only the second team to hit the 70 mark on that event.  In the previous rotation, Michigan had tallied their season best on PB to make an Ohio State comeback somewhat improbable.  But the Wolverines were forced to turn in some clutch HB routines, exceeding their season high by over two points.  When the smoked cleared, Michigan ended up posting the nation’s fourth-highest overall team score.  Beaten like a rented mule in the pre-season rankings, the Wolverines are now being touted as contenders.  After Week 4, Michigan is ranked number 3!

Belanovski’s 13.71 four-event average was one of many key performances for Michigan.  Freshman Jake Moore had an outstanding 14.14 four-event average that included the NCAA’s highest score on FX (14.95).  Emyre Cole’s debut included an event-winning effort on VT (14.30) and a 2nd-place finish on FX (14.50).  Michigan’s sizzling opening FX rotation (71.15) exceeded last weekend’s effort by over 3 points.  Marty Strech gave his team a momentous boost with a 13.86 four-event average.  Freshman Cameron Bock ended up with a 13.38 four-event average.  Tristian Perez-Rivera’s (SR-13.80) first appearance since early last season was an encouraging sight.

Ohio State captured four out of six individual events led by two-event winners Sean Melton (PH-14.00, SR-14.90) and Alex Yoder (PB-14.65, HB-14.10).  Yoder also took a turn at the AA for only the third time in the last year, earning the nation’s second highest score thus far (83.60).  Freshman Max Andryuschenko had his most productive meet with a 13.65 five-event average.  Ohio State also improved on their NCAA-leading SR team score by over a point with a great display of strength (71.75), getting a big boost from Yoder (14.55), Chris Coombs (14.40) Andryuschenko (14.20) and Alex Wilson (13.70).  The Buckeyes became the seventh team this season to hit the 410 mark.

Minnesota (413.25) escaped the bitter cold and Super Bowl hoopla to wallop host Air Force (400.45), putting up the nation’s third highest score of the season.  The Gophers went absolutely ballistic on VT (73.oo), thanks to a pair of 14.75 efforts by Vitali Kan and Alex Wittenberg and a meet high from Yaro Pochinka (14.95).  Chipping in for good measure were freshman Shane Wiskus (14.70) and Tristan Duran (13.80).  Minnesota’s high-flying air show was easily the highest-scoring performance of the season on any event, until — Nebraska’s explosion about six hours later. The Gophers earned team victories on all six events, with Luke Aldrich (FX-14.30), Justin Karstadt (PH-13.90), Pochinka (VT), Wiskus (PB-14.40) and Duran (HB-14.40) accomplishing a near sweep of the individual titles.

Top performers for the Falcons were event winner Fletcher Braunton (SR-14.35), Jonah Urlaub (FX-14.00), Michael Graft (VT-14.35), Christian Kalustian (VT-14.15) and Lukas Texeira (HB-14.15).  Air Force established a new season high, improving by almost 3 points.

Short-handed Illinois (404.70) earned a close road win over Iowa (401.85).  The Illini split three team events and captured four out of six individual titles to pull out the win.  Sebastian Quiana (FX-14.30), Brandon Ngai (PH-14.80), Alex Diab (SR-14.55) and Tyson Bull (HB-14.10) earned event wins for the Illini.  Bull has been an automatic winning machine on HB, and his victory was number twelve for his career.

The Hawkeyes earned team victories on three events (SR,VT,PB), and got event wins from Dylan Ellsworth (VT-14.45) and Austin Hodges (PB-13.85).  Freshman Bennet Huang notched his career best in the AA (79.45), while Nick Merryman was close behind (77.30).  Iowa exceeded their previous overall team score by over 5.5 points, and appear to be turning the corner.

Navy (402.90) continued their upward trajectory with yet another season high in their home win over Army (391.70).  The Mids nearly swept their rival opponents, with five out of six wins on both team and individual events.  Event winners for Navy were David Toussaint (PH-13.85), Ryan McVay (SR-T1st-13.80), Frank Bradley (VT-14.30), double winner Tanner West (SR-T1st-13.80, PB-13.60) and Noah Beeman (HB-13.80).  Freshman McVay recorded his career high in the AA (78.30).  It was an excellent display of balanced scoring for the victors.

Elliott Herman (FX-13.95) took the only event crown for Army, and the two teams shared the VT team title.  Seth Cannon (FX-13.80), Cole Casanova (FX-13.60, VT-13.95), Ryan Wilson (VT-14.05) and Nathan Goff (HB-13.75) were other top producers for the Black Knights.  Army will get another crack at Navy at next weekend’s All-Academy Championships.

In Sunday’s matinee, William & Mary (398.20) outlasted host Springfield (391.05), taking five out of six team events.  Both teams achieved new season highs.  Tomas Palma (FX-14.15), Griffin Antle (PH-13.80), Jeremiah McReynolds (SR-14.20) and David Allen (HB-13.60) earned event titles for the victors.  Jack Hasenkopf threw in with a season best (76.35).

Stephen Lewis (VT-13.90) and Jannik Haas (PB-13.85) won event titles for the Pride.  Phil Ordonez led his team’s winning effort on HB (13.35).  Springfield had three AAers who took the top three positions.  Lewis (79.10) scored a season high to take the top spot, followed by Josh Dieker (77.85) and Chris Graff (77.50).

While his teammates were frolicking in the Rocky Mountains, Minnesota’s Joel Gagnon was busy capturing a Gold medal on FX (13.85) and a Silver medal on HB (12.80) at the 2018 Elite Canada meet.  In Friday’s AA competition, Cal signee Darren Wong captured the Bronze (78.034) in his first Senior competition.  Penn State’s Sam Zakutney was right behind Wong in 4th place.

Seven teams have hit for 410-plus, with only 7.35 points separating the top score from the bottom.  The best story in NCAA Men’s Gymnastics so far this year has been — PARITY!

  • Oklahoma – 418.00  (411.65-Week 3)
  • Stanford – 414.10  (410.50-Week 4)
  • Minnesota – 413.25
  • Illinois – 412.50
  • Michigan – 411.85
  • Nebraska – 411.75
  • Ohio State – 410-65

NCAA TOP AA SCORES (as of February 4):

  • Yul Moldauer – 87.15
  • Alec Yoder – 83.60
  • Robert Neff – 83.45  (82.85-Week 1)
  • Shane Wiskus 82.55  (81.25-Week 1)
  • Levi Anderson (82.20)
  • Ryan Sheppard (82.05)
  • Sam Zakutney (81.35)



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