Big Ten Men’s Gymnastics Week 4 Recap: Illinois delivers Oklahoma its first loss

By David Willett | January 29, 2024
Illinois' Connor McCool competes on floor at the 2024 Core Hydration Classic.
© Amy Sanderson/Gymnastics Now

Week 4 saw little action from the Big Ten men’s gymnastics teams, as most of the conference was on a bye week. With that being said, the single competition from the Big Ten in Week 4 may have been the most exciting and nerve-wracking meet of the season thus far.

In a competition decided by less than a point, the Illinois Fighting Illini outlasted Oklahoma and handed the Sooners their first loss of the season. Ohio State, Penn State, Nebraska, and Michigan were on byes during Week 4 but will return to action in Week 5 for the beginning of conference meets.

#1 Oklahoma @ #5 Illinois

Final score: Illinois: 407.200 – Oklahoma: 406.650

Coming off of their first dual meet win of the season, Illinois faced No. 1 Oklahoma in Urbana-Champaign. Even without an ideal performance, the Fighting Illini emerged victorious, handing the Sooners their first loss of the season.

When discussing his team’s performance, head coach Daniel Ribeiro said, “These men understand fight. We had a number of mistakes today, but these guys didn’t let any of those mistakes faze them.”

This quote especially rings true when looking at the hit routines delivered in the final rotation on high bar, where Illinois secured the win by a margin of 0.550.

Tate Costa led the way on floor for the Fighting Illini, delivering a squeaky clean routine and scoring a 14.2 for third on the event behind Oklahoma’s Emre Dodanli and Brigham Frentheway. Connor McCool (14.05) also scored above the 14 mark on the event.

Will Hauke and Maksim Farkhadau delivered pommel scores of 14.05 and 14.0, respectively, to take second and third on the event behind the Sooners’ Ignacio Yockers. Pommel standout Brandon Dang scored a 13.850 despite a large mistake on his handstand dismount.

Ashton Anaya nailed his upgraded full-twisting double layout dismount on rings to win the event title with a 14.1.

Despite mistakes on vault, Amari Sewell and McCool had standout performances with their Kas 1.5s that each scored 14.55 in a tie for second.

The competition truly swung in favor of the Fighting Illini on parallel bars, where Illinois beat the Sooners by more than 3 points. Hauke continued a stellar day by winning the parallel bars title with a 14.1. The routine was highlighted by a locked-arm Peach with a half turn and a smooth Bhavsar. 

Junior Sebastian Ingersoll sealed the victory for Illinois, scoring a 13.9 on high bar for second place on the event.

“[This competition was] a big stepping stone for us this season, but the work is not done and we are still pushing heading into next week and the rest of season,” said team captain Connor McCool following the monumental win. Expect the Fighting Illini to carry this momentum into their pivotal matchup against No. 4 Michigan next week. 

#3 Nebraska

The Cornhuskers were on a bye in Week 4. They will start the Big Ten regular season at home against Penn State in Week 5.

#4 Michigan

The Wolverines did not compete in Week 4 as they were on bye. They will travel to Urbana-Champaign in Week 5 to face Illinois.

#6 Ohio State

Ohio State did not compete in Week 4. The Buckeyes will have a tall task in Week 5, going against Oklahoma in Norman.

#7 Penn State

The Nittany Lions had Week 4 off from competition. The Nittany Lions will travel to Lincoln in Week 5 for a Big Ten head-to-head matchup against Nebraska.