After some impressive opening week performances for Men’s NCAA gymnastics, an even more exciting second week has come to a close. This week we got to see what Michigan and Ohio State would bring to, in my opinion, a year that any team really could win. Here is a brief look at how this weekends competitions went down, as well as my opinions on the performances.
Rankings are as of Jan. 14th via NCAA.org, which was based on just those teams who competed in Week 1.
#1 Penn State vs. William & Mary vs. Temple vs. Navy vs. Springfield College vs. Brockport (Navy Open)
After topping the field last weekend, once again Penn State posted the highest score in the nation. Finishing the meet with a 440.90, the Nittany Lions continue to prove they are the team to beat this year. The closest score was a 409.40 posted by William & Mary. Temple, Navy, Springfield College and Brockport rounded out the team scores.
Individually, Penn State was lead once again by Trevor Howard, as well as Matthew Felleman, with their top two finishes in the all-around. Both competiting in the all-around for the first time, competed overall strong performances, including a trio of 2nd place finishes for Howard (Pbars, Vault, Rings)and an individual event title on high bar for Felleman.
Penn State shined as a whole with three other gymnasts winning event titles: Felix Aronovich (Pbars), Matt Chelberg (Floor) and Tristan Duverglas (Vault).
#2 Illinois vs. #10 UIC vs. Michigan vs. Ohio State vs. Minnesota vs. Iowa (Windy City Invitational)
Pre-season #2 Michigan Wolverines took the team title (431.30) at the Windy City Invitational over Illinois and Ohio State (427.75 tie) with Minnesota, Iowa and UIC rounding out the team standings.
Michgian, who is currently lacking their top gymnasts, Sam Mikulak, still came away wtih the top two standing in the all-around with Adrian de los Angeles and Rohan Sebastian. They also won the vault title with Stacey Ervin’s performance.
Reigning NCAA champion, Illinois, were lead by Yoshi Mori (3rd-AA, 1st-PH) and Joey Peters (4th-AA, 2nd-PB). The Fighting Illini had 14 Top 10 individual performances to lead them to their second straight runner-up finish at this competition.
The Ohio State Buckeyes used this competition to make their opening statements. Having won this competition last year, OSU had to settle for a 2nd-place tie. This competition also marked the first collegiate meet for one of this years top freshmen, Jake Martin. During his first outing, Martin took home the title on high bar, as well as a 2nd place finish on pommels.
#3 Stanford vs. #4 Oklahoma vs. #5 Nebraska vs. #6 Cal
The meet I was most interested in what the final outcome would be, the Stanford Cardinals beat Oklahoma by only 4.1 points (437.55-433.45) for the Stanford Open title, with Cal (425.90) and Nebraska (421.90) rounding out the quad meet.
Recording the top team scores on all six events, Stanford was lead by Eddie Penev with his second all-around titile of this season, as well as 2nd place finishes on floor and pbars. Other top peformances from the Cardinals came from Seth Senters (1st place Vault) and Brian Knott (1st place p-bars).
Oklahoma showed clean performances throughout, and welcomed Sophomore Dylan Akers (team high score on vault) back into the line up. The team saw season or career high performances from every gymnast they put up on high bar.
Week 2 Top 5 Scores Overall:
1. Penn State: 440.90
2. Stanford: 437.55
3. Oklahoma: 433.45
4. Michigan: 431.30
5. Illinois/Ohio State: 427.75
Week 2 Opinions:
Once again, Penn State proved they are serious about winning this year’s NCAA title. Yes, they have posted the highest scores the past two weekends, but are they peaking to soon? Will the pressure of hosting NCAA Championships at home get to them? Personally, I want them to just make sure they are pacing themselves and not starting this season so big to scare the other teams, only to run out of steam in the end.
For me, Stanford was a surprise second. They are a strong team overall, but they have competed only at home, which could be why they were only 3.45 behind Penn State this week. When they get on the road, that is when scores can really be easier to compare.
Even with Stanford showing strong performances these past two weeks, I honestly see Michigan as the #2 team at this point. Having finished over 9 points behind Penn State, and only 4th this week, this was their first competition. Also, they were without their star Sam Mikulak, who was in Colorado Springs with the USA National Team. Having Mikulak, who had a pre-season injury, back in the lineup will be huge for Michigan. Mikulak is the top all-arounder in the NCAA, and using his recent Olympic experience and confidence boost should push Michigan’s scores closer to the top. However, it still is not known how far along Mikulak is with his injury, and Michigan will really need him at 100% come post season.
The remaining standings are no surprise. These six teams will be expected to shuffle around the rankings throughout the remaining part of the season, especially when the 5-up/5-count rule comes into play. That will be when a true front runner will emerge.
Article by Brian Taylor
Photo from Penn State Gymnastics