#NCAAMGym Week 2 Stanford & Illinois both reach 420+ mark

Sooners hold off Huskers in Lincoln

Yul moldauer scored his second straight 15.5 on pb

There were two major takeaways from Oklahoma's win over Nebraska in Lincoln (426.6 - 414.4).

  • The Huskers should be taken seriously.
  • The Sooners are (sort of) human.

Thanks to some nice performances as a team on floor (71.8) and parallel bars (70.2), the Huskers kept things closer than most would have imagined against #1 Oklahoma. The Sooners held just a three tenth lead after two events before pulling away on the final four.

"They're a heck of a team [Oklahoma]," said Nebraska head coach Chuck Chmelka. "I just want our guys to believe now that they can compete against anybody."

As Chmelka pointed out, the last thing standing in the way of the Huskers beating a top team like Oklahoma is their start values. "You look across the board from our starts to their starts, they just pulled away on high bar," Chmelka commented. "You can't just rub a crystal ball and say 'okay five of our guys are going to start four tenths [of a point] higher.'"

Regardless of whether those starts get bumped up, Nebraska is showing a resurgence that they haven't seen in years. They possess capable all-arounders like the Stephenson brothers (Anton & Chris - NCAA & B1G Gymnast of the Week) as well as specialists like Heath Anderson who Chmelka praised, saying, "Two years ago he couldn't even swing to a handstand. The kid has hung in there, learned how to swing and he's putting together a beautiful rings routine."

Anderson ranks t11th in the ncaa on sr with a 14.25 avg

For any other team, earning a 426.6 is a surefire way of putting a smile on your head coach's face. For Oklahoma, it can be considered a small hiccup. Well, a hiccup that featured the nation's best high bar (72.4) and vault (73.1) scores. Not so bad afterall. The performance was highlighted by a pair of freshmen (Matt Wenske and Tanner Justus) leading the team on vault with a pair of 15.05's. Levi Anderson and Colin Van Wicklen also tied for the nation's top HB score with a 14.65.

Still, the Sooners will be looking for more out of their floor and pommel horse squads next week. It's also important to note that the last year's NCAA floor champion, Van Wicklen, has yet to compete on FX or VT. Oklahoma's highlights can be found here via soonersports.com.

Cardinal cruises to Stanford Open victory

akash modi improved his aa score by 1.5 from week 1

It was another day at the office for Akash Modi (AA - 88.15, MPSF Gymnast of the Week) and company as the Cardinal took down Cal and Washington at Burnham Pavilion. Stanford's 423.6 team score was highlighted by a national-best 72.5 on floor. A big story for Stanford might be the hot start from Sophomore ring-man Josiah Eng. Eng ranked 24th nationally on the event as a freshman but may be in the midst of a breakout season as he's 5th through two weeks. Rings is an event where no team has been able to touch Oklahoma; Eng could play a large part in closing the gap.

Outside of Modi and Eng another notable gymnast was Robert Neff who went 83.05 in the all-around, even with a 12.0 on pommel horse. Neff is one who could contend for a top-5 AA finish at NCAA's.

The Cal Golden Bears took a bit of a step back from their first meet, posting a 398.85. The team started slow on pommel horse (63.2) and found it tough to gain traction as the meet moved forward. "I think we ran out of gas on floor exercise - we weren't able to bring the energy on the last event," head coach Brett McClure told calbears.com. "The slow start and poor finish gives us a lot to work on in the next week."

Cal isn't alone in their struggles on pommel horse. The entire NCAA has seen just two scores of 70+ on PH so far in 2017 (OK - 72.3, IL - 70.05) and no team owns a 70+ average. It will be interesting to see if PH scores increase as teams get more competitions under their belt.

With the exception of pommel horse (see above) the club team from Washington had a solid showing at the Stanford Open. Standout performances came from Nathan Tsuji (AA - 75.35, VT - 13.85) and Nick Kano (SR - 13.85).

Illini prove their worth in Arizona

Junior bobby baker won the vault title with a 14.55

If there was any doubt after the first week that Illinois was the third best team in the country, it's now gone. The Illini join Oklahoma and Stanford as the only teams with a score of 420+ this year after defeating Arizona State 422.9 - 396.2. As StickItMedia pointed out, Illinois became the only team this year to score a 70+ on all six events during a single meet.

That statistic by itself justifies Illinois' case as one of the best teams in the country. Through two meets, Illinois has had only one rotation where they scored under 67.9 (Windy City - PH). As big guns like Bobby Baker and Chandler Eggleston get healthier, the Illini should only continue to get more dangerous.

It's time to take Arizona State seriously as a potential top-12 team. They got the job done yet again this week with their second-straight 392+ performance. Leading the charge was Zach Mollett who had a four-score average of 13.475 on FX, PH, SR and PB. Jared Newman garnered NCAA Club Gymnast of the Week honors with a pair of strong performances on SR (13.3) and HB (12.9). The Sun Devils sit 13th nationally after two weeks and are less than a half of a point behind Army.

Steady performance helps Penn State top Army at home

While the Nittany Lions may still be searching for a true difference-making event, they're still racking up wins. Saturday, in their home-opener, they topped the Black Knights for the second-straight week, 414.2 - 396.05. They once again got some rock-solid production from senior Dominic DiFulvio (AA - 82.6) and freshman Favian Valdez (AA - 79.8, B1G Freshman of the Week).

The more important stat might be that they saw just 2/36 routines (not counting routines done strictly for AA) score under a 12.75. The ability to avoid big mistakes spells good things for the Nittany Lions come five-up-five-count format.

Army took a bit of a step forward, 2.5 points worth, from their performance at the West Point Open. Much of that was to do with their nearly 4-point jump in production on high bar where they swept the top three spots. Nathan Goff took the title with a 14.05, Seth Cannon was second with a 13.95 and Leo Genders third with a 13.85. HB isn't usually a strong point for teams and could help Army qualify to NCAA's (as a team) after missing out last year.

UIC drops road meets to Ohio State; Iowa

A rare two-meet weekend for the Flames had them traveling to Columbus on Friday to take on the Buckeyes and Iowa City on Sunday for a duel against the Hawkeyes.

Ohio State ended up victorious in their home opener, defeating UIC 412.15 - 381.15. "I think we're doing well, maybe slower than usual," said Ohio State head coach Rustam Sharipov. "I'm giving opportunities to younger guys so they have a chance to prove themselves."

It seems many coaches are taking the "see what we've got approach" early in the year. Why wouldn't they? Other than some minor NCAA-seeding at the end of the year it's hard to argue that the regular season counts for much. Giving thought to having regular season conference champions, similar to the way other sports do, might be worthwhile.

Regardless of whether they were competing all of their studs, it was an improvement from week 1 for Ohio State. Redshirt Junior Jake Dastrup compiled a three-score average of 14.15 on FX, PH and PB to earn co-B1G Gymnast of the Week honors. The Buckeyes also got a familiar face back in the form of Sean Melton who scored a 14.45 on PB. "We're going day-by-day," said Sharipov when asked about Melton's availability moving forward. "The most important thing for our team is our health."

Meanwhile, it was a fantastic 21-point jump in team score from week 1 for the Flames. They improved their PB score by nearly nine points counting a 13.3 from Chris Root and a 12.8 from Alex Dumstorf.

UIC didn't fare quite as well during Sunday's meet against Iowa where they lost, 404.1 - 374.3. Then again, a drop in scoring can be expected for a team that traveled roughly 897 miles this weekend before reaching Iowa City. The team did set a season-high on FX with a 66.55, highlighted by performances from Jacob Thurber (13.95) and Dumstorf (13.75). As the young Flames gain experience throughout the year expect their team score to climb.

I think you could hear a collective sigh of relief from the Hawkeyes as they improved on a week one disaster by 16.55 points. They got a nice meet from expected workhorse Dylan Ellsworth (AA - 80.3) who scored 13.55+ on four events (SR, VT, PB, HB). The one event where the Hawkeyes will still be searching for answers is pommel horse where they saw just one score over a 12.85 (14.0 from Austin Hodges).

Gophers improve; take down Air Force at home

When asked what he told his team after a rough week 1 performance Minnesota head coach Mike Burns laughed, saying, "I just told them they've got to trust what they're capable of doing."

The Gophers took their coaches' words to heart and improved their team score by over 10 points, winning 407.7 - 395.35. The performance was highlighted by possibly the single-most impressive piece of gymnastics this weekend, a stuck handspring double front on vault by Yaroslav Pochinka. "I was kind of telling him, the thing about this vault is there's two or three really important factors to it that all need to line up," said Burns. "When they're all lined up you're in perfect synchronicity and that's what happened the other night."

Pochinka wasn't the only star of the night as Sophomore Vitali Kan also produced great numbers for the Gophers (FX - 14.1, VT - 14.8). "He's super close to having a real breakout meet," Burns said.

As for the Air Force Falcons, they would have wound up with a respectable team score if it hadn't been for a fluke FX (62.0). Tim Wang took home four titles (AA, PH, SR, HB) and Jonathon Fornoff had another rock solid PB set (14.2) to earn a title of his own.

Midshipmen win third-straight Navy Open

Tanner west picked up AA & SR titles

The Mids (397.65) took down William & Mary (390.1), Springfield (389.7) and Temple (366.65) in convincing fashion to capture their third consecutive Navy Open. Improving on their week 1 team total by over six points, they rode solid performances across the board. Rookie Tanner West made himself known by winning the all-around with a 79.9, he also won SR with a 13.75.

As detailed in the CGA season preview, Navy is a freshman-heavy team so it's an encouraging sign that they're not only contributing, but thriving.

William & Mary's day was highlighted by a title winning performance on PH from Sophomore Jacopo Gliozzi (ECAC Specialist of the Week). Gliozzi might be the most exciting horse swinger in the country that you don't know. Here's his performance from last year's ECAC Championships:

Gliozzi is a name to look out for moving forward as he could easily contend for All-America status by the end of the year.

Springfield, who was just barely edged out by William & Mary, rode a stellar all-around performance (78.8) from Stephen Lewis (ECAC Rookie of the Week). Temple, who competed a pair of all-arounders in Casey Polizzotto (74.35) and Jakob Welsh (74.0) rounded out the group.

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All photo credits: Jess Frankl

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