2017 NCAA Championships Recap The Oklahoma Sooners Win Third-Straight Title

For the third-straight season, the Oklahoma Sooners (431.95) were perfect. They join elite company as just the fourth team in history to win three-consecutive national championships (Others: Illinois (1939-42), Penn State (1959-61) and Nebraska (1979-83)).

Three-straight for the Sooners (Photo: Jess Frankl)

The Sooners' night began on FX where after four routines, there was a small cause for concern with scores of 13.75 & 13.1 on the board. Colin Van Wicklen stepped up as the anchor to deliver a 14.6 -- a score that would give him his third-straight top-two finish on FX at NCAA's.

Van Wicklen ended the routine in an eerily similar fashion as last year, pointing to the OU logo on his chest and riling up the crowd.

A fall from the 2016 AA champion Yul Moldauer on PH, along with two other 13's on the event, seemed to almost sway the momentum away from Oklahoma and back toward a team like Illinois who hit VT & PB well.

Oklahoma then went to rings and everything changed. Head coach Mark Williams had the following to say about the rotation that featured five stuck dismounts and the second-highest NCAA SR score of the year (74.0):

"It's fun to be on the podium and stand next to them when they're sticking like that. They did really good gymnastics and that's kind of the standard. It's not enough to just get through routines. Those were great routines."

It's hard to imagine a team having a better five routines on an event than OU had on SR. Hunter Justus, who ended up 5th on the event, let out a scream that nearly shook the rafters in Christl Arena. All five who competed for Oklahoma placed in the top-six and earned All-America status.

Hunter Justus celebrates following his fifth-place SR routine (Photo: Jess Frankl)

Just before rings, OU had been trailing Illinois by 1.0 -- they left the event with a lead of 3.8.

From there, they looked like they were just having fun. VT featured four scores of 14.7+ and they set an NCAA-high on PB (74.1) for 2017.

By the time the Sooners got to their last event, HB, the championship was in the bag. That's where they sealed off the victory and captured three of their 22 total All-American honors of the night.

After the meet, Williams took a moment to talk about the example set by his seniors: "[The seniors] have put so much sweat and tears into training over the last four years and have been tremendous as examples to the rest of this team. I knew at some point we were going to get it going and Allan [Bower] and Colin [Van Wicklen] were kind of at the head of things as we got into the back of the rotations so I was very happy with that."

I also asked Williams the defining quality of the 2017 team in comparison to the '15 & '16 teams:

"It's gotta be my seniors and the leadership I have. Josh Yee is a fifth-year guy, [he's] amazing as a captain. He was cut from the team then made it back on the team. he overcame a tremendous amount of adversity. Thao Hoang is another guy who's been tremendous. Reese Rickett is also one of our guys and Alex Powarzynski. That's a lot of guys and they've been around and they know what it means to be a Sooner gymnast. That's definitely the difference, we just had a lot of quality guys who just wanted to finish their careers on top."

The Sooners' win was no doubt a team victory, but it was spearheaded by three top-five all-around performances from Moldauer (87.6), Allan Bower (87.3) and Van Wicklen (85.05).

Moldauer ended the night as a double national champion -- both on FX & SR.

Moldauer: six all-america honors including national titles on floor & rings

With the Sooners set to lose 15 of the 30 routines that won them the championship, the team will have a different look in 2018. However, as long as Williams & Moldauer are still in Norman, a four-peat will be a real possibility.

Check out the highlights of the Sooners' performance here.

For the first time since 2005, the Ohio State Buckeyes (423.7) finished the season as the national runner-up. OSU donned 'LM' patches all weekend in honor of their Buckeye brother, Larry Mayer Jr., who passed away earlier in the week.

The Buckeyes captured a second-place finish (Photo: Jess Frankl)

The coolest moment of the night might've come on their last event, VT, where the team raised their fists in the air -- much like they used to do during Mayer's sky-high handspring double front:

It was an emotional performance for the Buckeyes (Photo: Jess Frankl)

The Buckeyes got an inspired performance from their star, Sean Melton. On numerous occasions, the RS-junior capped his routines with a chest pump in the direction of his teammates. Melton (86.4) finished fourth in the AA to go along with All-America performances on SR (2nd - 14.9) and HB (t3rd - 14.5).

Others earning AA honors of their own were Jake Dastrup (7th - 14.55) and David Szarvas (t8th - 14.5) on PH, Alec Yoder on PH (t4th - 14.8)/AA (6th - 84.95) and Joey Bonanno on FX (t6th - 14.4).

Yoder & Melton had plenty to celebrate on Saturday night (Photo: Jess Frankl)

Third place went to the Fighting Illini of Illinois (422.1). It was the first time cracking the top-three at NCAA's for the Illini since they won the title back in 2012.

This was the Illini's highest placing at NCAA's since 2012 (Photo: Jess Frankl)

They began the night on VT (72.55) and after five competitors it felt as though the Illini could be in for a special night. That rotation was finished off by a stuck front-handspring-1.5 from Alex Diab.

The Illini celebrate during HB (Photo: Jess Frankl)

Though they avoided big errors for the majority of the night, little mistakes here and there for the Illini kept them from beating the Buckeyes.

Two of the best competitors of the evening for Illinois were two that battled injuries all season. Bobby Baker ended up with All-America honors on VT (7th - 14.8) & SR (8th - 14.6) while Chandler Eggleston grabbed the honor on HB (2nd - 14.6) & FX (t6th - 14.4).

Also taking home top-eight finishes were Diab on SR (7th - 14.65) and Brandon Ngai on PH (t4th - 14.8).

Fourth place went to the Stanford Cardinal (421.5). It marks the fifth-consecutive year where the Cardinal has placed in the top-four.

Stanford with the fourth-place trophy (Photo: Jess Frankl)

Nissen-Emery Award winner, Akash Modi, ended his NCAA career in style winning his second national all-around (87.9) and PB title (15.3). Joining him as a national champion was his teammate Robert Neff on HB (14.85):

Modi & Neff took home national titles for the Cardinal (Graphics: @StanfordMGym on Twitter)

Coming into the meet as the regular season's second-ranked team, it wasn't the finals that the Cardinal had hoped for. Being forced to count three 12's was the ultimate difference.

The highlight of the meet might've come when the Cardinal caught fire on PB. Modi went up following a 14.7 from Neff and hit a jaw-dropping routine capped off by a stuck full-in dismount. Moments like that are why the NCAA will miss Modi's brilliance.

Along with Modi's five All-America honors (1st - AA, 2nd - PH, t4th - VT, 1st - PB, t3rd - HB) and Neff's three (7th - AA, 1st - HB, 7th - PB), Stanford also got one from Andrew Misiolek on PH (t8th - 14.5).

Fifth place went to the Minnesota Golden Gophers (414.2). It marked their first top-five placing at NCAA's since 2002.

Watching the Gophers on their first event, HB, felt like a roller coaster ride. There were some struggles, followed by an unfortunate injury to freshman Timmy Kutyla, followed by sensational routines from Tristan Duran & Jalon Stephens and ultimately concluded with a gutsy routine from last-second replacement athlete, Shaun Herzog.

The next four events weren't perfect for the Gophers, but they ended on a high note by putting up their third-highest PB score of the season.

All-America honors for Minnesota came from Duran on PB (t8th - 14.5) & HB (t8th - 14.35), Stephens on HB (t3rd - 14.5), Zach Liebler on FX (t6th - 14.4) and Vitali Kan on VT (8th - 14.75).

Five All-American accolades for the Gophers (Graphics: @GopherMGym on Twitter)

Finishing sixth place in their first NCAA team finals since 1999 were the Nebraska Cornhuskers (412.9).

It was a historic weekend for Nebraska (Photo: Jess Frankl)

The Huskers ended the night with the best FX team score of the competition (71.5) -- nobody in the rotation scored lower than 14.05. Austin Epperson (t2nd - 14.6) & Kyle King (5th - 14.45) ended with All-America honors on the event.

The Huskers finished with a pair of AA's on FX (Graphics: @NebraskaMensGym on Twitter)

The Huskers' future is bright: they will return 27 of 30 routines that got them their highest finish in 18 years.

PH National Champion: Stephen Nedoroscik, PSU

This year's NCAA PH title went to Penn State freshman Stephen Nedoroscik. He was the first man up in the meet and ended up going wire-to-wire, never giving up his lead. Check out the routine here.

Nedoroscik becomes PSU's 54th individual national champion (Graphic: @PennStateMGYM on Twitter)

Nedoroscik's pace and extension on the event is nearly unrivaled and his swing is textbook. There's a long, long way to go, but Nedoroscik has the opportunity to become only the second person ever to win four PH national titles (other was PSU's Mark Sohn; 1988-91). One down, three to go...

VT National Champion: Anthony McCallum, MICH

Remember how we were just talking about someone winning four national titles on one event in their career? Michigan's Anthony McCallum is now halfway there. On Saturday night he became the first to win back-to-back NCAA VT titles since Oklahoma's Steven Legendre did it in 2008-9.

McCallum wins back-to-back VT national titles (Graphic: @UMichGym on Twitter)

Check out McCallum's massive tsuk double-pike here.



AA All-Americans (Photo: Jess Frankl)

1. Akash Modi, STAN - 87.9

2. Yul Moldauer, OU - 87.6

3. Allan Bower, OU - 87.3

4. Sean Melton, OSU - 86.4

5. Colin Van Wicklen, OU - 85.05

6. Alec Yoder, OSU - 84.95

7. Robert Neff, STAN - 84.8

8. Tim Wang, AF - 84.6

Floor Exercise:

FX All-Americans (Photo: Jess Frankl)

1. Yul Moldauer, OU - 14.9

t2. Allan Bower, OU - 14.6

t2. Austin Epperson, NEB - 14.6

t2. Colin Van Wicklen, OU - 14.6

5. Kyle King, NEB - 14.5

t6. Joey Bonanno, OSU - 14.4

t6. Zach Liebler, MINN - 14.4

t6. Chandler Eggleston, ILL - 14.4

Pommel Horse:

PH All-Americans (Photo: Jess Frankl)

1. Stephen Nedoroscik, PSU - 14.9

t2. Akash Modi, STAN - 14.85

t2. Allan Bower, OU - 14.85

t4. Brandon Ngai, ILL - 14.8

t4. Alec Yoder, OSU - 14.8

6. Jacopo Gliozzi, W&M - 14.7

7. Jake Dastrup, OSU - 14.55

t8. David Szarvas, OSU - 14.5

t8. Andrew Misiolek, STAN - 14.5

t8. Leroy Clarke Jr., PSU - 14.5

Still Rings:

SR All-Americans (Photo: Jess Frankl)

1. Yul Moldauer, OU - 14.95

2. Sean Melton, OSU - 14.9

t3. Reese Rickett, OU - 14.8

t3. Thao Hoang, OU - 14.8

5. Hunter Justus, OU - 14.75

6. Allan Bower, OU - 14.7

7. Alex Diab, ILL - 14.65

8. Bobby Baker, ILL - 14.6


VT All-Americans (Photo: Jess Frankl)

1. Anthony McCallum, MICH - 15.1

2. Allan Bower, OU - 14.95

3. Emyre Cole, MICH - 14.9

t4. Yul Moldauer, OU - 14.85

t4. Akash Modi, STAN - 14.85

t4. Colin Van Wicklen, OU - 14.85

7. Bobby Baker, ILL - 14.8

8. Vitali Kan, MINN - 14.75

Parallel Bars:

PB All-Americans (Photo: Jess Frankl)

1. Akash Modi, STAN - 15.3

2. Allan Bower, OU - 15.2

3. Yul Moldauer, OU - 15.15

4. Hunter Justus, OU - 14.9

5. Sam Zakutney, PSU - 14.8

6. Tim Wang, AF - 14.75

7. Robert Neff, STAN - 14.7

t8. Colin Van Wicklen, OU - 14.5

t8. Tristan Duran, MINN - 14.5

High Bar:

HB All-Americans (Photo: Jess Frankl)

1. Robert Neff, STAN - 14.85

2. Chandler Eggleston, ILL - 14.6

t3. Jalon Stephens, MINN - 14.5

t3. Sean Melton, OSU - 14.5

t3. Genki Suzuki, OU - 14.5

t3. Yul Moldauer, OU - 14.5

t3. Akash Modi, STAN - 14.5

t8. Colin Van Wicklen, OU - 14.35

t8. Tristan Duran, MINN - 14.35

NCAA Preview Predictions: 4/8

Created By
Logan Bradley


Photos: Jess Frankl

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