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Stanford, Illinois and Oklahoma Post Top Scores in Week 3

Posted on 28 January 2018 by admin

After an exciting Saturday afternoon of gymnastics involving teams from the eastern half of the country, it was time for Stanford to generate some excitement of their own in the west coast evening nightcap.  The host Cardinal (414.10) put on quite a scoring display, grinding out one season high after another in their resounding victory over Cal (395.05) and Washington (368.30) in the Stanford Open.  They established new season standards on all six events, and are now the proud owners of the nation’s top team score.   The Cardinal also became the first team with two team event scores of 71-plus (FX-71.25, VT-71.30) in the same meet.

Leading the way for Stanford were event winners Connor Lewis (FX-14.55), David Jessen and Joey Ringer (PH-13.70), freshman Thomas Lee (SR-14.00), Bailey Perez (VT-14.75) and Grant Breckenridge (HB-14.30).  Freshman Andrew Bitner posted another AA score in the 80s to place 2nd (80.10).  NCAA AA leader Robert Neff contributed with a 13.83 four-event average.

Cal’s Aaron Mah earned the win in the AA (80.30), and freshman Shane Sadighi chipped in with his top AA score of the season (77.10).  Yordan Aleksandrov was Cal’s only event winner on PB (14.25).  The leading scorer for Washington was AAer Jacob Jarrett (73.65).

Illinois was a team on a mission.  The Illini (412.50) put on quite a display of their own in their road victory over host Penn State (405.90). The battle between the 3rd and 2nd ranked teams, respectively, was touted as the weekend’s marquee contest.  The two teams did not disappoint.  The Illini struggled on their opening event (PH), but proceeded to rattle off three-consecutive outbursts of 70-plus on FX (71.40), VT (71.85) and SR (70.30) to open up a big lead over the Nittany Lions.  They scored 70-plus on three events, and captured five out of six team event titles.  The Illinois explosion enabled them to record the nation’s highest team floor standard and second best overall team score so far this young season.

The Illini had five gymnasts earn event victories.  Alex Diab was a double-winner, earning the top prizes on FX (14.80) and SR (14.70).  Brandon Ngai won his 17th career PH title (14.55), while Jacob Light (VT-14.85) and Tyson Bull (HB-14.50) also put up the big numbers.  Bull now owns the nation’s best HB score.  Bobby Baker tallied a gaudy 14.30 four-event average, including some robust numbers on FX (14.40), SR (14.65) and VT (14.60).  Johnny Jacobson put up key numbers on SR (14.05), VT (14.05) and PB (14.15), ending up with a 13.90 four-event average.  Freshman Max Diab competed with his older brother for the first time, earning some notable scores on FX (13.90) and VT (14.40).  A trio of 14.40-plus scores now gives the Illini bragging rights for the top team score on FX.

If not for a sluggish rotation on PH, Penn State would have shaved several points off the final margin.  The Nittany Lions scored close to their season averages on everything else, and established new season highs on FX (70.80) and PB (69.85).  Sam Zakutney was the star for the home team, posting a win on PB (14.45), taking 2nd place on HB (14.45) and earning another 80-plus score in the AA (80.70).  Other notable scores for Penn State were turned in by freshman Brennan Pantazis (FX-14.35), Wyatt Tyndall (14.35, PB-14.15), Chris Sands (FX-14.30, SR-14.05), freshman Alex Frack (PB-14.00) and Zakutney (FX-14.15).  The young Nittany Lions are fun to watch and look to be a budding powerhouse.

The season opener for Oklahoma (411.65) and host Michigan (403.65) was a surprising barn burner for the first four rotations.  Michigan was in command, thanks to their opening rotations on FX and PH, surging to a 3.4-point lead.  The lead shrank to a little over a single point as the Sooners whittled away, compiling a pair of 70-plus scores on SR and VT.  The Wolverines attack collapsed on PB and HB, enabling the Sooners to pull away with another 70-plus performance on PB and a great effort on HB.  Oklahoma, with near disasters on FX (66.60) and PH (64.15) was able to roar back in the final four rotations, joining Illinois as the only teams to tally 70-plus scores on three events in the same meet.

Junior Yul Moldauer had the golden touch on three of the four events on which he saw action.  He had meet-leading scores on PH (13.90), SR (14.95) and PB (15.05).  Genki Suzuki (HB-14.05) and Matt Wenske (VT-14.85) joined the fray with event titles of their own.  The Sooners had the only two AAers in the meet, as Levi Anderson (80.70) and Wenske (79.85) logged in some productive numbers across-the-board.

Alec Krystek recorded the lone event win for Michigan on FX (14.50).  The first two rotations proved to be the Wolverine’s only team event wins.  Freshmen Jacob Moore (FX-14.05, VT-14.05) and Cameron Bock (PH-13.55), Nick Guy (VT-14.30) and Jonathan Liu (HB-12.70) had impressive collegiate debuts in limited action.  Moore compiled a 13.70 four-event average.  Dima Belanovski, bouncing back after three surgeries last year, put up good numbers on SR (13.80), VT (13.70) and PB (13.55).

This meet deserved marquee status for the weekend.  It was a fun meet to watch from start to finish.  Michigan’s pre-season ranking (9th) appears to less than generous, and the young squad has much upside, especially as they regain health and gain more experience.  They were without the services of Emyre Cole, and his return to action next week will provide another spark.  The start to their season was an impressive one, and they gave the Sooners all they could handle.

As for the Sooners, they ended up the weekend with the nation’s fourth-highest score. Interestingly, they also ended up becoming the top-ranked team based on scoring average.

A mere 2.45 points separate the top-4 scores this season.  So far, we are seeing some great parity among several teams, with other teams fairly close behind.  Illinois enjoyed having the nation’s best score for about six hours before Stanford snatched away that honor.  That’s how quickly things can change.  Looks like we got a good taste of what this season portends.

Minnesota (405.90) delivered a new season team high in their home win over Iowa (395.45).  Freshman Shane Wiskus posted the nation’s second highest AA score (82.55) and Shaun Herzog tagged along with a 13.83 five-event average to lead the Gophers.  Wiskus and Herzog also shared the top prize on PB (13.95).  Other event winners for Minnesota were Vitali Kan (FX-13.95), Alex Wittenberg (VT-14.60) and Tristan Duran (HB-14.00).  The Gophers prevailed as a team on five of six events.

Event winners Austin Hodges (PH-14.10) and Jake Brodarzon (SR-13.85) led the Hawkeyes.  Freshman Bennet Huang was again a bright spot for Iowa in the AA (77.30).  The team’s win on PH kept them near the top of the NCAA team rankings on that event.

Navy (396.40) won their tri-meet over visiting William & Mary (389.30) and Temple (242.05). The Mids had three event winners as Andy Jones (FX-14.15), Tanner West (SR-13.55) and Ben Provost (HB-13.50) posted the highest scores.  Freshman Ryan McVay earned a victory in his collegiate debut in the AA (77.80).  Navy was victorious on five out of six team events.  Kip Simons’ boys really have it going on and will likely keep their top-7 position in the rankings.

The Tribe took three individual events, led by All-American Jacopo Gliozzi (PH-13.25), Tim O’Neill (VT-14.35) and Griffin Antle (PB-13.50).  Jack Hasenkopf chipped in with his 73.90 in the AA.  Top scorers for the Owls were Nicolino DiBattista (VT-13.15), Joe Fernandes (VT-12.80) and Toby Warren (VT-12.70).

Arizona State (392.60) won the SC United Benefit Invitational with their season best team score over host SC United (343.40) and NorCal United (196.80).  The Sun Devils swept all the individual events, sparked by triple-winner Kiwan Watts (SR-13.50, VT-T1st-14.20, PB-13.85), Daniel Bronnenberg (14.15), Nikita Latman (13.05) and Kirk Malm (HB-13.30).  Watts also turned in the best AA performance (80.05), followed by teammate Latman (76.95).  SC United’s Ivan Alpizar shared the top podium spot on VT (14.20) to lead his team to their highest scoring effort of the season.  The top scorer for NorCal was Will Ryan (AA-71.80), and SC United’s Diego Neumaier was right behind in 4th place (71.75).  This was NorCal United’s inaugural meet.  100% of proceeds from this meet benefited the college gymnasts to assure they are able to travel to their season meets and compete at the USAG Collegiate National Championships.

In the first of two weekend meets for Air Force, the Falcons (394.75) edged out host Army (394.15) in Friday’s contest.  Air Force took five of six individual event titles, led by double winner Fletcher Braunton (PH-13.70, SR-13.95), Ryan Girouard (FX-13.60), Jonathon Fornoff (PB-13.60) and Lukas Texeira (HB-14.10).  The two teams split the team event titles.  Army was paced by event winner Ryan Wilson on VT (14.10).

Air Force (397.10) finished off their road trip on Sunday with a victory over host Springfield (387.85).  The Falcons exceeded their previous season high team score by almost 10 points.  They were victorious on five of six events, and earned event titles on four of them.  Leading the attack were event winners Braunton (PH-14.20), Girouard (FX-13.80), Christian Kalustian (VT-14.30) and Texeira (HB-13.45).  Joshua Dieker (SR-13.65) and Jannik Haas (PB-13.60) were event winners for Springfield.  The Pride had all three AAers in this meet, with Chris Graff (77.80), Stephen Lewis (76.15) and Dieker (75.50) putting up big numbers for their team.

There will be no debate as to what will be next weekend’s marquee meet — Nebraska & Stanford at Oklahoma!  Set the date and time — Saturday, February 3 at 7:00pm CT



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