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#NCAAMGym Week 5 Recap Three Of Nation's Top-Five Team Scores Posted

Six-up, five-count is officially done. Everything following the Winter Cup break is five-up, five-count, meaning the room for error is absolutely zero. For some teams, having to use less athletes might be a welcomed sight, for others, not so much. Now to the week five action.

Penn State Takes Down OSU In B1G Showdown

Stephen Nedoroscik placed second on PH (photo: Jess Frankl)

Penn State (417.4) defeated Ohio State (414.9) on Saturday in a meet that was encouraging for both teams, though discouraging if you're a fan of accurate judging. I always preface any complaint about judging by saying this: of course it's not the fault of either team. Both the Nittany Lions and Buckeyes made improvements this weekend and are well-positioned to make noise at Big Ten Championships and beyond.

I find myself criticizing women's gymnastics often for handing 10.0's out like candy, but men's gymnastics is proving to be just as bad in some cases. The scores of course aren't "perfect," but they're egregious nonetheless.

With that being said...for Penn State to go into Columbus and defeat the Buckeyes is impressive. "We finally put a really solid meet together, top to bottom and there’s a lot of great fighting spirit," said Randy Jepson. "We’ve been working really hard on the details — landings, getting very few deductions and it all pulled together this weekend so that was nice to see.

"We don’t worry too much about what other people think, we just have to do our job each day and get better and better. We’re not a team that has a lot of superstars, but they’re really dedicated, they’re working really hard and they’re doing everything we ask them to do and we’re starting to see the results of that so it’s a good testament to the character of the guys." - Randy Jepson
An All-American in 2017, Zakutney has picked up where he left off (photo: Jess Frankl)

Sam Zakutney continues having a good 2018 season; he won PB with a 14.8 and overall put together a 14.2 four-event average. Another name to note was Joshua Smith who placed top-two on both VT & FX, winning the latter event.

Jepson mentioned that a point of emphasis heading into the Winter Cup break will be focusing on vault landings.

"We’re moving in the right direction,” Ohio State head coach Rustam Sharipov told ohiostatebuckeyes.com of his team's performance.

Indeed they are as they got a little healthier this week with the return of Seth Delbridge. Delbridge had missed the past couple of meets after an ankle injury in week one.

Seth Delbridge (photo via Ohio State Athletics)

Sean Melton didn't compete in this one and Alec Yoder (Co-B1G Gymnast of the Week) stepped up, putting on a display that led to a whopping four-event average of 14.46. That included event titles on PH & HB.

Other Buckeye individual wins came from Chris Coombs on SR and Sean Neighbarger on VT.

Sooners Win In Norman For Second-Straight Week

Genki Suzuki (photo via soonersports.com)

In their second of four-straight home competitions, Oklahoma (418.85) put up a new NCAA high score to defeat the Iowa Hawkeyes (402.85).

Not many teams (in fact, only Oklahoma) enjoy the ability to rest key competitors on some of their best events and still score higher than anybody in the country -- Oklahoma isn't like other teams. For the first time this year, the Sooners didn't have a single all-around competitor as Yul Moldauer rested on VT & PB and Levi Anderson on FX.

Having a massive day for OU was junior Genki Suzuki. Not only did he finish with scores of 14+ on all four events he competed, but he was sticking dismounts like his life depended on it. Nobody sticks dismounts like the Sooners.

Somebody Mark Williams mentioned last week as one who would be stepping into a larger role was freshman Gage Dyer. Dyer responded with a pair of top-three finishes on FX & PB.

Five events were won by Sooners: Moldauer (FX & SR) and Suzuki (VT -- tied with Hunter Justus, PB & HB),

Yul Moldauer (photo via soonersports.com)

Upping their season-high team total by one point, it was a good trip to Norman for Iowa.

Austin Hodges was the lone event winner for the Hawkeyes, winning pommel horse with a 14.35. Bennet Huang would've secured a career best all-around score if not for a tough PB. Still, he ranks sixth in the NCAA among freshmen and has been the most valuable gymnast for Iowa this season.

Gophers Outlast Illini In Minneapolis

(photo: Jess Frankl)

This weekend, on their home turf, Minnesota (408.0) took down Illinois (406.55) for the first time since February of 2016.

“We didn’t care about the score so much as we cared about the victory,” explained Gophers head coach, Mike Burns. “In past times, it’s like ‘we didn’t win the meet, but we got a good score.’ We didn’t get great scores, but we got the win so it was satisfying because Illinois is an amazing program and they’ve had our number for the last couple of years.”

Minnesota boasted a pair of all-grounders who scored 81+ and finished 1-2 on the afternoon.

Shane Wiskus (B1G Co-Gymnast/Freshman of the Week) hasn’t cooled off at all as evidenced by his meet-leading 82.5. Wiskus led the field on FX with a 14.7 and also finished runner-up on SR & PB. A lot of freshmen are playing big roles for their teams in the NCAA — none are doing as phenomenal of a job as Wiskus.

(photo: Jess Frankl)

Tristan Duran was the other AA competitor for Minnesota and he notched an 81.35. He earned two titles of his own on PB & HB.

“Oh my god, yeah,” said Burns when asked if this was the most depth he’s ever had as a coach. “In terms of that, for sure. We’ve got four guys going to Winter Cup and they’re all doing the all-around so I don’t remember the last time that happened. So that’s been good, that gives us some options in our lineup.”

For Illinois, the back-breaking event on Saturday ended up being parallel bars where they scored a 64.1 as a team.

Despite the loss, the Illini did return two key competitors on certain events with Michael Paradise back doing PH and Bobby Baker returning to the all-around. Paradise finished second on the event with no dismount (due to an ankle injury) while Baker put together an 80.9.

Other individual titles went to Brandon Ngai (PH), Alex Diab (SR) and Max Diab (VT).

Huskers Defeat UIC At Home

(photo: Jess Frankl)

The Huskers bounced back this weekend at home, defeating UIC 409.35 - 372.25. If we learned one thing from this meet, it's that Anton Stephenson can't NOT stick his yurchenko-2.5. He's now 3/3 on the year in terms of scoring 15+ on the event.

Per usual, Stephenson wasn't the only Husker to step up on VT where they scored 73.0 as a team. Nebraska remains No. 1 in the country on the event, averaging .625 more than the next best team.

Anton Stephenson (photo: Jess Frankl)

On the flip side, high bar (64.8) remains a weak point. The Huskers only competed five on the event Saturday and remain one of two B1G teams (other is Michigan, though they've only competed twice) who have yet to score a 66 on the event in 2018.

Nebraska took home all six event titles, spreading the wealth amongst five gymnasts: Jake Bonnay (FX & HB), Stephenson (VT), Daniel Leal (PB), Antonio Castro (PH) and Heath Anderson (SR).

Saturday represented UIC's first competition in almost three weeks. It also marked a new season-high team score and individual all-around score for Satchel Hudson (74.0). Along with winning AA, Hudson notched another top-five finish with a 12.45 on PH.

The Flames recorded four season-high event scores on SR, VT, PB & HB.

Air Force Upsets Navy At All-Academy Championships

Just 4.3 separated all three teams at the All-Academy Championships in San Antonio on Saturday, but Air Force (403.85) was able to pull off the upset defeating Navy (400.2) and Army (399.55). It marks the eighth-consecutive All-Academy win for the Falcons.

En route to a season-high score, Jeff Robinson's team continues to be fantastic on pommel horse, an event where they scored a 67.75. They jumped from No. 10 to No. 4 in the NCAA on that event.

It was very much a team effort for Air Force as nobody competed more than four events. Freshman Frankie Valentin continued to have a nice first season by putting together a 13.58 four-event average. Fletcher Braunton is enjoying a bit of a breakout as well -- he won both events (PH & SR) that he competed on Saturday.

Fletcher Braunton (photo via Amy Sanderson/GoAirForceFalcons.com)

Other Falcon winners were Casey Branin (FX) and Lukas Texeira (HB). Texeira has been on fire on high bar in 2018 where he currently sits No. 3 in the nation.

Saturday marked the second-straight weekend where Navy has surpassed the 400-mark. Though it didn't get them a win this time, it keeps them inside the top-10 as a team.

The Mids actually scored two points higher than Air Force over the last three events (VT, PB, HB), but it was FX and SR where they lost ground.

Navy's lone event title came from Frank Bradley on VT who scored a 14.45.

Army's best meet of the year by a long shot came much in thanks to junior Cole Casanova. Casanova missed all of last year with an injury and has been working back to full strength. Saturday marked his first all-around competition since NCAA Championships in 2016 and it was a good one. Casanova got the win with an 80.05.

Cole Casanova (photo via Army West Point Athletics)

The other winner for the Black Knights was Nick McAfee who scored a 13.3 on PB.

Stanford Wins Pac-12 Invite

(photo: Jess Frankl)

Stanford remains the king of the Pac-12. On Saturday night in Palo Alto the Cardinal (403.6) defeated Cal (395.15), Arizona State (385.0) and Washington (369.8).

It represented a dip in score for Stanford who was coming off two straight weeks of 410+. High bar (62.3) was the main reason, as before that event the team was on pace for a score of somewhere around 409. Their previous low on the event this season was a 65.8.

Another reason for the score was a presumed day off for their star, Robert Neff. Neff competed on just one event, PH, where he scored a 13.2. Filling his all-around spot was sophomore David Jessen who competed all six for the first time in his college career to the tune of a 77.3.

His teammate, Ryan Sheppard, earned the all-around title with an 81.35. Other titles came from Joey Ringer (PH), Connor Lewis (VT) and Blake Sun (PB). Check out a couple highlights of their day here.

Ryan Sheppard (photo via Mountain Pacific Sports Federation)

Cal finished with a season-best team score on the backs of their two stars, Aaron Mah and Yordan Aleksandrov. Mah finished runner-up in the all-around with an 80.85 while Aleksandrov finished top-two on all three of his events, including titles on SR and HB.

As has been the case in years past, pommel horse remains the weak point for the Golden Bears. They rank 15th nationally on the event.

"It was a great fight, start to finish, tonight by the Bears," head coach JT Okada told calbears.com. "We need to get back in the gym and establish a rhythm as we enter the second half of the season and the five-up, five count competition format. I'm proud of the work we've put in so far but there's no time to take the foot off the gas."

Arizona State, who also had a team compete at NorCal United this weekend, took third at the Pac-12 Invite. Season-lows on SR & HB prevented the Sun Devils from pushing for second place.

Kiwan Watts' 78.85 placed him third in the all-around. Other top-three finishes came from Daniel Bronnenberg who won FX and Watts who placed third on PB.

Rounding out the field were the Washington Huskies who impressively put together a near-370 with just eight competitors. Benjamin Bloom was the lone AA'er and he put together a season-high 75.8.

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Logan Bradley
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Unless otherwise noted, photos belong to Jess Frankl

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