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#NCAAMGym Week 2 Recap Nebraska Cements No. 1 Status, Navy Climbing

Have we ever seen a season start so wildly? I'm not sure anybody in their right mind could've predicted some of the things that have happened in the early-going of 2018. We knew Nebraska was improved, but by this much? Also, did anyone figure that by January 23rd we still wouldn't have seen Oklahoma or Michigan -- two major teams -- compete?

If anybody is arguing that NCAA men's gymnastics is predictable, they can have themselves a look at the past two weeks. Here is how the official top-10 looks at the moment:

via @NCAA on Twitter

Huskers Take Down The Buckeyes Again

Chuck Chmelka described last week as a 'whirlwind' based on all the media attention his team received. I can only imagine what word he'd pick for this week. On Saturday night his Huskers (411.75) picked up a second win in as many weeks against Ohio State (404.15).

"The truth of the matter is we just had okay practice [last] week," explained Chmelka. "We got a couple guys sick and it was a short week. I just wasn’t sure about anything, really. Then the guys just put it together and that’s what I love about the team this year. They’re different than last year as far as just muscling and banging out routines, it’s fantastic."

I suppose that's what happens when you're coming off a year where you accomplished something you haven't done since last millennium. "I think what we did last year was a huge stepping stone into this season and then we have eight seniors, so they were all there for last year’s big stepping stone and they’re not done yet, they want more."

The scene from Saturday night's meet against Ohio State (photo via @TheIronN on Twitter)

It's not even the seniors that Chmelka is most impressed with, either. For him it's the second, third and fourth guys in each lineup that are making a difference. Guys like freshman Griffin Kehler (top-two finishes on FX & PB) and Josh Martin (VT - 2nd).

What does Chmelka tell his team amid all the recent, well-deserved attention they've received? "Everything stays the same and whatever you read, just worry about yourself and the process we have and don’t get caught up in anything else."

Simple advice on the surface. Check out some highlights from the Huskers' day here.

The Buckeyes issues lie in a different area than that of the Huskers. With Sean Melton (co-B1G Gymnast of the Week) & Alec Yoder anchoring the back-end of almost every lineup, there is no problem there. The pair posted some eye-popping numbers Saturday night with Melton's 15.15 on rings and Yoder's 15.5 on pommel horse.

Yoder's 15.5 on PH leads the nation (photo: Jess Frankl)

Instead, it was the front-end where Ohio State was hurt most on Saturday. The Buckeyes were forced to use a couple of more inexperienced competitors given the absences of Seth Delbridge and Max Andryushchenko.

The good news is that OSU will get the week off before heading to Ann Arbor for a meet against their arch-rival, Michigan.

Illini Take Care Of The Sun Devils At Home

Johnny Jacobson led his team in all-around with a 76.5 (photo: Jess Frankl)

Competing at home for the first time this season, the Illini (407.7) took down Arizona State (387.7) to remain perfect through two weeks.

The performance as a whole was rough around the edges, but still featured glimpses of what could be. Bobby Baker (co-B1G Gymnast of the Week) really had it going on Saturday. A wrist problem has kept him from competing PH or PB, but he's more than making up for it on the other four (14.26 average on FX, SR, VT & HB). Baker could return to the all-around as soon as next weekend.

Bobby Baker (via @IlliniMGym on Twitter)

The other Illini who played a key role was Alex Diab. The junior scored 13.5+ on all four of his events (FX, SR, VT & HB).

Pommel horse (66.4) was a shade better for Illinois this weekend though the bad news is they may be without sophomore Michael Paradise for an extended amount of time after he dislocated his ankle.

Check out some highlights of Illinois' performance here.

With all due respect to Arizona State and their entire team, this weekend was all about freshman Kiwan Watts. The highest-rated recruit the Sun Devils have been able to pull for a while now made his debut in Champaign and didn't disappoint. He accumulated a 79.55 in the all-around to go along with an NCAA-best 14.6 on parallel bars. If Arizona State were eligible to compete at NCAA Championships he would surely be in contention for All-American status.

Kiwan Watts (photo via USA Gymnastics)

Aside from Watts, there were a couple of other Sun Devils who competed well. Nick Garcia placed third on floor (13.3) and vault (14.35) while Riley Ward grabbed another third-place finish by scoring a 13.45 on rings.

Penn State Wins at Rec Hall

Stephen Nedoroscik won another PH title for Penn State (photo: Jess Frankl)

It was an encouraging weekend for the Nittany Lions (407.6) as they took down Army (384.1) in their first meet of the season at Rec Hall. With Sam Zakutney getting a little bit of rest and only doing two events, Randy Jepson saw a couple of relatively new faces step into larger roles.

Brennan Pantazis (77.4 - AA) had another strong showing, but it was his classmate, Alex Frack, who finished as B1G Freshman of the Week. Frack earned top-three finishes on all three of his events including a win on high bar (13.7).

Alex Frack (via @PennStateMGYM on Twitter)

Junior Greg Tamargo had a heck of a day as well, registering a pair of event titles (SR & VT) to go along with a 13.95 on FX.

PSU will take on their first conference opponent of 2018 when they welcome Illinois into Happy Valley this weekend.

Army enjoyed nearly a four-point jump in team score this weekend and it was almost all thanks to a major improvements on pommel horse. The Black Knights scored exactly five points higher on the event (63.15) in week two.

The team's lone individual title came from Elliott Herman on FX with a 14.0.

stanford wins tri-meet in chicago

Robert Neff scored an NCAA-high 14.35 on HB (photo: Jess Frankl)

Welcome back, Ryan Sheppard. For the first time since 2016, the Texas-native made it back onto the competition floor, and he didn't disappoint. His 82.05 all-around score checks in as the second-best (teammate Robert Neff owns the top score with an 82.85) in the NCAA so far this season. That helped propel Stanford (405.75) to a win over Iowa (396.1) and UIC (366.3).

Ryan Sheppard (photo via Stanford Athletics)

It's easy to forget that Sheppard is a guy who posted five all-around scores of 84.75+ during his sophomore season (2016), including an 89.3 at home against Michigan & Cal. His return will take a lot of pressure off of Neff to be 'the guy' every week.

Still, that doesn't mean Neff didn't get the job done. The senior finished as runner-up in the all-around with an 81.7, including an NCAA-best 14.35 on high bar.

A pair of freshmen picked up titles for the Cardinal with Bryan Perla winning vault (14.35) and Blake Sun winning parallel bars (13.9).

For the second week in a row, Iowa finished the day as team champions on pommel horse (66.0). Elijah Parsells (13.9) and Nicholas Merryman (13.65) finished first and second, respectively. The Hawkeyes are now the No. 3 ranked PH team in the NCAA.

Other titles came from freshman Bennet Huang on FX (14.25) and Rogelio Vazquez on PB (13.95).

Rogelio Vazquez (photo: Jess Frankl)

The good news for UIC is that they saw a 7.5-point improvement in team score from week one to week two. Satchel Hudson led the Flames as an all-arounder with a 72.45.

Bad news is that pommel horse got a little more rough this week with nobody in the lineup being able to crack the 12.0 mark. If UIC wants to creep into the 370's they'll need to find a way to stay on PH.

Mids Starting season Hot, Win Navy Open

Christian Correale (photo: Jess Frankl)

With 73% of Navy's roster being made up of underclassmen, it's pretty remarkable what they've done through two weeks. The Mids (398.0) captured last weekend's Navy Open over Springfield (384.25), William & Mary (383.5) and Temple (150.3).

"To be honest with you, I thought we’d have some early-season jitters just due to the youth of the workload," explained head coach Kip Simons. "Probably twenty-five routines are getting done by freshmen and sophomores."

'Getting done' might be a gross understatement. FOUR event titles came from Navy underclassmen: David Toussaint on PH (13.35), Ben Provost on HB (13.65), Tanner West on SR (13.4) and Trevor North on PB (13.6).

Trevor North (photo: Jess Frankl)
"Honestly, when you go down through -- and that’s the beauty of this team -- they’re a bunch of under-the-radar guys that go to work every day. It’s that team effort, we’re not putting the lion’s share on one kid’s shoulders and if he has a bad day then we suffer as a team. It’s a no-kidding, 22-person effort and that’s the beauty of this team.” - Simons

The Mids will hope to keep things rolling at home again this weekend against William & Mary and Temple.

Maybe the most interesting storyline of the meet was the race for second-place, which was won by the Springfield Pride. They did so despite scores of 61 on PH, SR and HB.

Stephen Lewis (78.15) edged out teammate Chris Graff (78.1) by the slimmest of margins to take home an all-around win. Lewis & Graff also finished 1-2, respectively, on vault, an event that the Pride won as a team (68.35).

Chris Graff (photo: Jess Frankl)

The Navy Open served as a definite improvement for William & Mary who saw a more than five-point uptick in team score. Tim O'Neil & Juan Palma had nearly identical days, both scoring 14.0+ on FX & VT.

The Tribe's lone individual title came from Tomas Palma on FX (14.25).

(graphic via @WMTribeMGYM on Twitter)

Temple, competing just four, finished the day with a 150.3.

Created By
Logan Bradley
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Unless otherwise noted, all photos are courtesy of Jess Frankl

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