#NCAAMGym Week 4 Stanford & Ohio State break 420; Army upsets Navy

Stanford upends Air Force & Washington with second-straight 420+

Grant Breckenridge captured the HB title with a 14.6

For the second-straight meet, the Stanford Cardinal surpassed the 420 mark, this time with a 420.45. Akash Modi (NCAA & MPSF Gymnast of the Week) scored an 85.45 in the all-around and my first thought was, 'Ah, down week for Akash.' Then you take a step back only to realize that an 85.45 is the sixth-best AA score in the NCAA this year; not so bad after all.

Coming within less than a point of Modi in the AA was teammate Robert Neff who scored a season-best 84.5. Neff flies under-the-radar for the most part but provides Stanford a formidable 1-2 punch in the AA to give them a chance to win any meet.

Two others who had great days for Stanford were Grant Breckenridge (AA - 81.3) and Taylor Seaton (FX - 14.6, VT - 14.55, HB - 14.55, SR - 13.75). While there's still a ways to go, I don't think this team is as far off Oklahoma's trail as many might think.

Taylor Seaton finished 2nd on all four events he competed

Air Force claimed the second spot as a team, posting a 406.1. They appear to be making major strides on floor, an event that has plagued them in 2017. They scored a season-high 68.7, highlighted by a 14.55 from senior Aaron Nubine. The Falcons' biggest highlight of the day came from star Tim Wang on pommel horse where he scored a 14.9 (t3rd best in NCAA). Wang is as good of a bet as any to be in the top-3 on PH come NCAA's.

Washington hung tough against a pair of top teams to score a season-best 380.3. Highlights came from Nick Kano on SR (13.7), Justin Rowen on VT (14.1) and Nathan Tsuji in the AA (76.3). Michael Sibley took home NCAA Club Gymnast of the Week honors following a performance that included a 12.95 on SR, 13.3 on VT and 12.75 on PB.

Ohio State makes statement in Win over Arch-Rival Wolverines

Sean Melton finished top-2 on every event he competed (FX, SR, PB, HB)

The rest of the NCAA has officially been put on notice --- the Buckeyes are getting healthy and now have the score to prove it. With a 422.2-404.95 victory over Michigan, Ohio State has entered the conversation for second-best team in the nation. "When your top guys start doing more events, and they're hitting them, you're going to see the difference," commented OSU head coach Rustam Sharipov.

The Buckeyes are seeing quite the difference. As key-contributors like Sean Melton have competed more events the team has enjoyed a roughly 10-point jump in score each week over the first three meets. I don't necessarily anticipate Ohio State to be scoring a 432 next week, but it's possible they could be shooting for that come B1G's and NCAA's.

Jake Martin (B1G Gymnast of the Week) played a huge role this weekend scoring an 85.25 in the all-around. If there was an NCAA Comeback Gymnast of the Year award, Martin would be running away with it.

"Of the past four years he's only had one true successful year, the others he's had illness or injury. I think going through all those ups-and-downs he's learned a lot. He's taking care of his body and he's doing rehab before and after practice - but the main thing for him is he's leading the team as an example, not only in the gym, but in the classroom as he's double-majoring." - Sharipov on Jake Martin

Along with Martin and Melton, Jake Dastrup has played a big role for the Buckeyes this year. He took both the PH (14.9) and PB (14.7) titles on Saturday. Currently Dastrup ranks top-20 in the NCAA on FX (19th) PH (t12th) and PB (4th). OSU highlights from the meet can be found here.

Continuing to make progress were the Wolverines of Michigan, who posted their third-consecutive season-best score. Saturday marked their best efforts of the season on PH (66.0), SR (66.7), PB (68.35) and HB (66.05). An encouraging sign came from getting Dmitri Belanovski back on five events. He competed for the first time this year on FX (where he was an All-American last year). You can view his 14.0 HB set from the meet here.

You can already see the progress being made from some of Michigan's younger team members. Four different freshmen (Mitchell Brown, Mack Lasker, Justin Murphy and Thomas Paul) set season-best scores on Saturday.

Illini Win Second-Straight B1G Dual

Illinois scratched and clawed their way to a 411.35-404.55 victory on Friday night in Champaign against conference foe Penn State. The meet was a small step backwards for both teams but there were some encouraging individual performances.

For the second week in a row, Illinois' high bar team swooped in and saved the day, this time to the tune of 70.45. Tyson Bull is a definite candidate to come away with a national title on HB at the end of the year after his NCAA-best 14.9 (tied with Levi Anderson of OU). If you know anybody who questions the legitimacy of NCAA men's gymnastics just show them Bull on HB and tell them to go away.

While some teams in the NCAA wouldn't mind a 66.1 on PH, Illinois can't afford to leave points on the table on one of their best events. Positives for the Illini came from Joey Peters (AA - 80.75) and a healthy-looking Bobby Baker (VT - 14.25, SR - 14.0, HB - 13.85 and FX - 13.6).

The Nittany Lions had trouble getting things going all day, especially after a 64.9 on their second event, floor. Favian Valdez (B1G Freshman of the Week) continued his fantastic rookie year with an 80.95, good enough for an AA title. Another freshman, Stephen Nedoroscik captured his second pommel horse title in as many weeks a 14.35 as he continues his climb up the NCAA PH ranks (14th).

Penn State will hope to get back on track in a big one next weekend at home against Ohio State.

Army upsets Navy in huge Bounce back effort

In last week's recap I talked about the rough meet Army had during their visit to Air Force. I mentioned that a meet against their rival Navy might be the motivation they need to kick it into high gear. They did just that by improving on last week's score by almost 17 points, defeating the previously red-hot Navy, 405.85-402.8.

They key to Army's victory was avoiding a "trouble" event. Their lowest score was a 65.5 on floor which was actually a season-high for the Black Knights. In fact, Army set season-highs on all six events. Junior Nathan Goff stepped up in a big way with a season-best 81.9, narrowly missing out on the all-around title (Navy's Jonny Tang scored an 82.1). Other big scores came from Ryan Wilson on vault (14.7) and Leo Genders on high bar (14.6).

It's possible this meet changed the entire trajectory of Army's season. Seeing a huge jump in scoring and beating your biggest rival in the same meet will do wonders for a team's confidence.

By no means did Navy have a bad meet, they simply got beat. Freshman Lucas Beltran won the VT title with a massive 14.9 which propelled the Mids to a season-best 70.65. Beltran also took home the FX title with a 13.85.

Exactly half of Navy's 36 routines came from three gymnasts: Jonny Tang, Tanner West (AA - 79.1) and Noah Beeman (AA - 78.55). Navy will get its chance for immediate revenge this weekend when the two teams meet again at the All Academy Championships with Air Force.

Gophers win Slugfest at Home against huskers

The judges this weekend in Minneapolis woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Little did Minnesota and Nebraska know, they were going to be competing in a tri-meet with the judges as well. From a casual viewers perspective it was almost unfathomable some of the scores that were being handed out, on FX especially. A routine that scored an 11.9 could have just as easily scored a low/mid 13 with another set of judges. I'm not saying that judges don't have the right to be extra critical, but the issue of consistency was more prevalent across the country this weekend than any other this year.

Once the carnage was all said and done, the Gophers ended up defeating the Huskers, 400.75-396.7. They did so without their two top competitors, Zach Liebler and Tristan Duran. "I was very nervous about them [Nebraska] coming in because we've got some beat up guys," said Minnesota head coach Mike Burns.

Burns said they were hoping to have Duran in the all-around but ended up sitting him due to wrist and heel issues. While the Gophers certainly missed him on parallel bars and high bar, they had no shortage of firepower on vault where they put up a 72.1, their best of the season.

"It was not a pretty win, but it was a win and we'll take it," - Mike Burns

Nebraska had a nice meet taking home three individual titles (Connor Adamsick on FX, Antonio Castro on PH and Anton Stephenson on PB). While the nice performances didn't necessarily translate to high scores, they can rest easy knowing that dual meets still have absolutely no impact on the ultimate goal of competing hard at B1G's and NCAA's.

This was a meet where you crumple up the score sheet and evaluate strictly based on performance. If both teams do that they should be happy with what they were able to accomplish on Saturday.

William & Mary tops Conference Rival Springfield

William & Mary vs. Springfield round two went to the Tribe. After losing to Springfield by just .4 in week two, William & Mary got their revenge on Sunday defeating the Pride, 395.8-389.9. "Springfield has a really strong team this year," said W&M interim head coach Mike Powell. "To be able to come out with a win is a big step for the confidence of the team and the program moving forward."

Powell says there are still a few kinks to work out but likes the progress he's seeing from his team. He especially liked the way they performed on pommel horse as Griffin Antle and Jacopo Gliozzi shared the title, each with a 13.8.

Senior Rob Meyer had another great meet for the Tribe as he won the parallel bars title with a 14.1. He also contributed a 13.2 on PH and 13.5 on SR. "He's a rock for the team," described Powell. "This is a hungry group and he's the heart and soul of the work part of that."

William & Mary will look to keep things rolling as they meet up with UIC at the Peachtree Invitational this weekend.

Springfield bounced back from a bit of an off meet last weekend against Penn State. They seem to hover right around the 390 mark so it will be interesting to see if they can break that trend soon.

The most encouraging note for the Pride on Sunday was their improved performance on HB. They posted a season-best 64.15 on the event as all six gymnasts scored in the 12.7-13.0 range. Josh Dieker had a very nice day for Springfield in the all-around as he scored a season-high 79.15 to take the title.

Hawkeyes upset CAl in BErkeley

Andrew Botto won the vault title with a 14.5

In a rare Monday night meet, the Hawkeyes went into Haas Pavilion and upset the Golden Bears, 399.9-396.55. Both teams had very tough nights on pommel horse with Iowa scoring a 61.9 and Cal with a 59.8.

Much of the Hawkeyes' success centered around a season-best performance of 71.45 on VT where Andrew Botto took the title with a 14.5

Leading the charge for Cal was Aaron Mah who won the all-around with an 80.55. Mah also won high bar with a 14.0 and floor with a 14.4.


All photos courtesy of Jess Frankl with the exception of Army, William & Mary and Iowa

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