Categorized | Featured, Men's Gymnastics, NCAA

Penn State, Minnesota Win Close Contests; Sooners Set New High in Romp

Posted on 11 February 2018 by admin

The final weekend of NCAA Men’s Gymnastics before next weekend’s Winter Cup got off to a rousing start on Friday night.  Penn State (417.40) posted season highs on four team events to put away host Ohio State (414.90).  Though the meet was still up for grabs going into the final rotation, the visitors from Happy Valley had a second rotation that proved to be the difference in the meet.  After setting a new season best on PH (69.20), led by NCAA champ Stephen Nedoroscik (14.80) in the opening rotation, the Nittany Lions moved on to FX to establish another season high (70.95).  That provided most of the final victory margin at the end.

The two teams split the team titles, while the Buckeyes enjoyed a 4-2 edge in individual titles.  Penn State’s new team highs came on FX, PH, SR (69.95) and HB (67.50).  Add up all of those and the Nittany Lions compiled the nation’s third highest team score this season, just 0.6 behind Oklahoma.  Ohio State was right behind them, garnering new season standards on FX (68.75), PH (69.25) and HB (69.10).  The Buckeyes now have the nation’s fourth highest overall score.

Joshua Smith (FX-14.65) and Sam Zakutney (14.80) were event winners for Penn State.  Balanced scoring was the name of the game for the victors, with seven Nittany Lions generating scoring punch on either three or four events.  Zakutney had a 14.21 four-event average to lead his team in scoring.  Fellow Canadian Wyatt Tyndall was quite prolific on the night with his 13.85 four-event average.  Also providing strong multiple-event scoring efforts were Smith, freshmen Brennan Pantazis, Parker Clayton and Alex Frack, Michael Burns and Chris Sands.

The evening’s scoring champion was Ohio State’s Alec Yoder, who weighed in with event titles on PH (14.85) and HB (14.50).  On top of that was his gaudy 14.46 four-event average.  The Buckeyes’ lowest-scoring event was 68.00 on PB, which translated to an extremely balanced scoring effort.  Chris Coombs (SR-14.80) and Sean Neighbarger (VT-14.75) also earned event wins for the home team.  Coombs now owns the nation’s 3rd-best SR score, and Neighbarger’s score was his personal high.  Neighbarger was a quite a workhorse, posting a nifty 13.86 five-event average.  Michael Chan, Coleson Stodghill, Meyer Williams, David Svarvas, Josh Seltzer and Joey Bonanno joined in the scoring outburst with some key production.  The young Buckeyes did extremely well, especially in light of giving some of the Winter Cup athletes either a light load or the night off (Sean Melton).

Entering the competition, Penn State and Ohio State were ranked 7th and 8th, respectively.  Now they own the third and fourth highest team scores and will assuredly make a rankings climb.  We are about to see the wildest up-for-grabs scramble in years for the coveted six positions for the NCAA team finals.

Freshman Colton Dee was a last-minute HB substitution for Minnesota, and he came through in the clutch.  The Gophers (408.00) needed his score (12.85) to break a tie and secure the win over visiting Illinois (406.55).  It was the final routine of a dreadful rotation, as both teams scored their worst of the season (HB-64.20/PB-64.10).  Tristan Duran had earlier bailed out his team’s rotation with a meet-high 13.85 to give his squad the upper hand.  Duran’s big score highlighted his best AA this season (81.35).  Minnesota held a slim 1.65-point lead going into the last rotation, so the meet was truly up for grabs.

Freshman Shane Wiskus won another AA (82.50), nearly matching his best.  He also put up a 14.70 on FX, good enough for one of the top 5 scores this year.  Duran added a win on PB (14.45) to his big day.  Shaun Herzog had a productive day with his 13.49 five-event average.  Alex Wittenberg also posted some key numbers with a 14.03 three-event average.

The Illini welcomed back Bobby Baker to the lineup, and he didn’t disappoint with his first AA this season (80.90).  Brandon Ngai (PH-14.10), Alex Diab (SR-15.00) and freshman Max Diab (VT-14.70) were event winners, as Illinois also earned three team event titles.  Their team total on PH (67.40) was a season best.

Oklahoma (418.85) again had the top-scoring outburst in collegiate gymnastics in their home victory over Iowa (402.85).  The Sooners did it by committee, but especially had two performers who stuck out.  Genki Suzuki was a scoring sensation, capturing three individual titles (VT-14.55, PB-14.35, HB-14.50) en route to a 14.30 four-event average.  His season-best HB effort was the meet’s final routine that punctuated the evening contest with an exclamation mark.  Yul Moldauer’s abbreviated four-event stint was rewarded with titles on FX (14.50) and SR (14.70).  Levi Anderson also competed on five events (13.64 avg.) to provide steady leadership.  Hunter Justus had a share of the VT title (14.55) and had a good night on FX (14.20).  His brother Tanner was a tenth behind on VT (14.45).  Freshman Gage Dyer, with a 13.82 three-event average, is blossoming into a key role player.

The Sooners compiled sixteen scores of 14-plus to put on quite a balanced display.  Their lowest team score came on PB (68.55), and they improved on their NCAA-leading team score on HB (69.50).  Oklahoma owns the NCAA’s top two overall scores.

Iowa turned in their season-best scoring effort, and was paced by event winner Austin Hodges on PH (14.30), freshmen Bennet Huang (AA-77.85, FX-14.10, PH-14.00) and Addison Chung (VT-14.15), Dylan Ellsworth (VT-14.20) and Jake Brodarzon (SR-13.70).  The Hawkeyes also hit the 70 mark on VT for the first time (70.20) to take the team title.

Nebraska (409.35) coasted to an easy home win over UIC (372.25), highlighted by another big-scoring blast on VT (73.00).  The nation’s top team on VT was led by the high-flying duo of Anton Stephenson (15.10) and Kyle King (14.75).  Stephenson, Mr. 15, will remain the nation’s top-ranked vaulter after Week 5.  The Huskers swept all the event titles behind winning scores by Jake Bonnay (FX-14.20, HB-13.85), Antonio Castro (PH-14.75), Heath Anderson (SR-14.30) and Daniel Leal (PB-14.20).

The Flames were led by Satchel Hudson (AA-74.00, VT-14.35), Asad Jooma (FX-13.10), Wes Diveney (SR-13.20) and Steen Haugsted (PB-13.25).

Host Stanford (403.60) had an easy time getting past Cal (395.15), Arizona State (385.00) and Washington (369.80) in the Pac-12 Invitational.  The Cardinal gave light duty to many of their stars, but was led by outstanding efforts from Ryan Sheppard (AA-81.35), Joey Ringer (PH-14.20), Connor Lewis (VT-14.65) and freshman Blake Sun (PB-14.40).  Stanford won five out of six team events.

Double event winner Yordan Aleksandrov (SR-13.85, HB-13.70) and Aaron Mah (AA-80.85) were Cal’s top producers.  Mah’s AA score was a season high.  Arizona State’s Daniel Bronnenberg won the remaining event title on FX (14.20).  Sun Devils freshman Kiwan Watts placed 3rd in the AA (78.85).  Washington was led by Benjamin Bloom (AA-75.80) and Jacob Jarrett (VT-14.15).

Air Force (403.85) won their 8th-straight All-Academy Championships over Navy (400.20) and Army (399.50).  Top scorers for the Falcons included event winners Casey Branin (FX-14.40), Fletcher Braunton (PH-14.00, SR-13.95) and Lukas Texeira (HB-T1st-14.10).  Air Force captured four out of six of the team event crowns to achieve their best score this year.  Cole Casanova had a career-best AA (80.05) and Frank Bradley took honors on VT (14.45) to lead Navy.  Army’s best overall team effort this season was spearheaded by event winners Nicholas McAfee (PB-13.30) and Nathan Goff (HB-14.10).

Arizona State’s “B” squad (355.30) won a tri-meet over SoCal United (351.40) and host NorCal United (198.45).  It was the first time NorCal had hosted a meet.  ASU won four out of six team events, and were led by event winners Logan Linde (PB-12.85) and Andrew Atkeson (HB-13.30).  Event winners Micah Cliffe (FX-12.90), Diego Neumaier (SR-12.55) and Ivan Alpizar (VT-13.85) were the top producers for SoCal United.  Will Ryan (PH-12.90, AA-75.30) was the leading scorer for NorCal.

33 gymnasts on current NCAA rosters will be heading to Las Vegas next weekend to compete at the 2018 Winter Cup Challenge (February 15-17).  Click here for the qualification Start List.  For the first time, the Juniors and Seniors will be completely separated into two sessions in the qualification round.  The top 28 Seniors and top 14 Juniors will advance to the Finals.  Click here for the link to Live Scoring.  A link to a live video feed has not yet been published.

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