#NCAAMGym Week 1 Oklahoma, Stanford, Penn State, Illinois and William & Mary take home victories

Oklahoma dominates Rocky Mountain Open

Yul Moldauer posted the nation's highest parallel bars score with a 15.5.

Given the new code this year, teams will be scoring roughly 15 points lower than last year. Apparently nobody has told Oklahoma this as their opening score of 433.2 would've still placed them third at last year's NCAA championships. "We came out competing very consistently," said head coach Mark Williams.

ANY CHAMPIONSHIP THAT'S GOING TO BE WON IS GOING TO HAVE TO GO THROUGH US. - Mark williams

Williams acknowledged that the judging may have been a little more loose than other meets around the country, but the performance still stood out. Senior Allan Bower (NCAA Gymnast of the Week) shined, posting an NCAA-best 88.75 in the all-around, highlighted by 15's on pommel horse, still rings and parallel bars. "He was on fire," Williams said. "Allan was about as good as I've seen Allan."

With Oklahoma putting up the nation's best team score by over 15 points, it will be interesting to see whether the wide margin continues throughout the entire year. When asked about how he keeps his guys from getting complacent, Williams said, "In many respects it's about living up to the high expectations we have for ourselves. [It's] kind of making a statement to the rest of the country that we're going to be a really good team again."

Coming in second at the RMO was the Air Force Academy. The Falcons were led by some solid performances from Tim Wang (PH - 14.85, SR -15.2, VT - 14.7) Jonathon Fornoff (PB - 14.7) and Chase Cannon, who won the HB title with a 14.45. It seems as though the Falcons are ready to surprise some people this year as they checked in with the sixth-best team score of the week.

SC United rounded out the three-team grouping with a 347.25.

Stanford tops Cal in The Big Flip Off

Grant Breckenridge finished second in the all-around behind teammate Akash Modi.

As many meets may go this year, the dual between Stanford and Cal quickly turned into the Akash Modi show. Modi's 87.15 all-around score paved the way to a 418.1-403.15 victory for the Cardinal. Five gymnasts competed in a Stanford uniform for the first time on Sunday. One of those five was Barrett Weiss who won the vault title with a 14.7. "Barrett [Weiss] channeled his energy well in his first collegiate meet," said head coach Thom Glielmi.

Weiss wasn't the only Stanford competitor to take home a title as the Cardinal swept the six events. Jordan DeClerk won FX (14.75), Modi won PH (15.05) and PB (15.45), Josiah Eng had an impressive showing on rings (14.5) and Robert Neff won HB (14.6). Stanford was able to show in this meet that they are the clear-cut number two team behind the Sooners. "The team handled themselves professionally and kept working through uncharacteristic mistakes," commented Glielmi

The California Golden Bears have to be pleased with their first meet. As outlined in my season preview, Cal is fielding an awfully young team so to put up a score of 400+ in their first meet is quite an accomplishment. Yordan Aleksandrov and Aaron Mah both did all-around for the Golden Bears putting up scores of 81.2 and 80.95 respectively. Following the first week of competition Cal is ranked top-5 nationally on three events (FX, VT, HB).

Nittany Lions edge Huskers to earn fourth-straight West Point Open title

Dominic DiFulvio was one of three Nittany Lions to score 82+ in the all-around.

Coming into 2017, head coach Randy Jepson said that this Penn State team wasn't going to overpower anybody but they would be consistent. After the first weekend of competition, that seems to be a fair assessment. "I was most happy about the fact that we looked really clean," Jepson said. "We're not doing really hard routines but most of our guys competed really well."

PSU had three competitors do all six events and all three had solid days. Michael Burns led the group with an 82.7, followed by Favian Valdez (B1G Freshman of the Week) with an 82.4 and Dominic DiFulvio with an 82.3. "Michael Burns did a great job," Jepson said. "He competed the best he's ever competed for us and in the first meet that says a lot."

It's clear that the Nittany Lions possess some strong depth, something that could help separate themselves from the pack as the season moves forward.

Taking second place by just 1.75 were the Nebraska Cornhuskers. They were led by solid performances from freshman Jake Bonnay (FX -14.45, HB - 13.8), Heath Anderson (SR - 14.45), Daniel Leal (PB - 14.15) and Kyle King (VT - 14.85). Prior to the season, head coach Chuck Chmelka alluded to the fact that high bar may be a weakness for this team and they struggled with it this weekend, being forced to count two 12's. If they can shore up that event, early indications show that they will be contending for a B1G title.

The race for third place may have been just as exciting as the one for first. The rest of the field went as follows: Army in third with a 393.55, Arizona State in fourth with a 392.75, Navy in fifth with a 391.25, Springfield in sixth with a 390.55 and Temple in seventh with a 372.25. Props need to be given to the Sun Devils as they were able to compete at such a high level as a club team. Riley Ward ended up taking home Gymnast of the Week honors in the club division thanks to his performances on FX (13.95), VT (13.4) and SR (12.55).

It should be noted that the scoring seemed a bit more lax at this meet, similar to the Rocky Mountain Open. As the season moves on I hope to do a piece on the vast differences in judging between the different regions. It's a difficult problem to fix, but one that desperately needs to be addressed in order to find more consistency within the scoring of our sport.

Illini win third-straight Windy City title

Alex Diab tied for the still rings title with a 14.25.

For the third straight year the Fighting Illini have come out of the Windy City Invitational victorious. Windy City is one of the more exciting non-championship meets within the NCAA each year and the action didn't disappoint.

I was personally able to attend the meet and wanted to make a few comments from a spectator's point-of-view before the breakdown. The presentation of the competition, scoring-wise, was extremely disappointing. It was next-to-impossible to follow which team was winning and it was even difficult to see what scores the gymnasts were getting on each event. We're doing our amazing sport a disservice by leaving fans to guess which team is winning at any point during a meet. Can you imagine going to a basketball game and having to manually keep score of the game? Well, doing that for gymnastics is about 1,000 times more difficult.

We want others to care about men's gymnastics, yet so little goes into making it easy for the casual fan to understand what's going on. I was far from the only person to feel this way as I talked to a few parents of gymnasts, as well as coaches, who shared the same disappointment. There's a constant attempt to increase the popularity of men's NCAA gymnastics but for that to be possible we need to stop neglecting major flaws like this one.

As for the meet itself, Illinois came out firing from the first event. They started on high bar where they had the top-two finishers in Tyson Bull (14.4) and Chandler Eggleston (14.35). From there the Illini looked strong on every event with the exception of pommel horse, which was very uncharacteristic. There was one bright spot on the event with Matt Foster sharing the title with a 14.3. "Being the first meet of the year, I'm pretty happy," commented head coach Justin Spring.

Similar to high bar, the Illini finished with 6/6 hit routines on parallel bars where sophomore Johnny Jacobson came away with the title. While all-arounders like Jacobson and Joey Peters played large roles on Saturday, Spring said the team as a whole deserves the credit for performing as a unit.

Spring hopes that his team will be able to gain more firepower soon with Eggleston returning on FX and VT as well as easing Bobby Baker into a couple more events as they move towards postseason. If Sean Melton is sidelined any extra amount of time for Ohio State, the Illini could quickly become the favorite to win the B1G title.

Sean Melton is currently battling wrist and shoulder injuries.

The Buckeyes, who came in second without the services of Melton, need to look no further for a bright spot than redshirt-senior, Jake Martin. Martin (B1G Gymnast of the Week) won the all-around with an 83.4 proving that Ohio State isn't short on weapons if they can get healthy. The team also had another pair of title-sharing performances in Alec Yoder (PH - 14.3) and Tristan Burke (SR - 14.25).

Thanks to a next-day scoring change, Michigan pulled ahead of Minnesota to take third as a team. The surprising finish was much due to an impressive showing on FX where the Wolverines had three top-five finishers (1. Emyre Cole - 14.9, 2. Anthony Stefanelli - 14.55, t5. Tristian Perez-Rivera - 14.2).

Michigan's day would've been a whole lot more impressive if it hadn't been for a meltdown on PB (61.7) where only Marty Strech was able to score in the 13's (13.0). We knew going into the season that the Wolverines would live-and-die by their FX and VT, they just need to find a way to limit breakdowns on other events.

Taking fourth and fifth places, respectively, were Minnesota and Iowa. Both teams performed below expectations and will be hoping for bounce-back meets. Both teams also currently hate the event known as pommel horse as they each scored in the 58's. I don't need to explain how make-or-break that event can be. The good news is that it's only the first meet of the year and the Golden Gophers and Hawkeyes will be competing in their home openers this coming weekend.

Rounding out the group in sixth were the UIC Flames. UIC competed seven freshmen and for the most part they held their own in a highly-competitive meet. The Flames will take on a treacherous double-meet weekend as they travel to Columbus and Iowa City on Friday and Sunday.

William & Mary posts a 382.6 at the State Open

William & Mary opened their season at home with the State Open and finished with a 382.6. Freshman Thomas Palma had a solid day for the Tribe, taking home a pair of event titles on FX (13.15) and VT (14.0). The team score puts William & Mary in 16th place, just behind Iowa, after the first week of competition.

The Tribe will travel next weekend to take on Navy, Springfield and Temple in the Navy Open.

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Logan Bradley
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All photo credits to Jess Frankl

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