MPSF Men’s Gymnastics Week 2 Recap: Stanford, Oklahoma set the bar high; freshmen make strong debuts

By Aidan Giusti | January 16, 2024
Oklahoma's Fuzzy Benas prepares to mount pommel horse at the 2023 Core Hydration Classic.
© Amy Sanderson/Gymnastics Now

Week 2 of MPSF men’s gymnastics saw the four teams battle it out in head-to-head matchups.

Stanford and Oklahoma put on excellent showings and came away with wins, both topping 413 and setting high marks to start the season, while Air Force and Cal found themselves in the 380s with a handful of falls each.

The weekend re-established Stanford and Oklahoma as the frontrunners in the NCAA while Cal and Air Force will continue to battle it out this season. The highlight of the weekend were the freshmen debuts across the conference, with especially strong performances from California’s Carter Kim and Oklahoma’s Colin Flores.

Air Force vs. Oklahoma

Final Score: Oklahoma 413.600 – Air Force 382.750

The Sooners added their 61st consecutive win at McCasland Field House this weekend with a win over Air Force, 413.600-382.750.

Oklahoma showcased a handful of notable returners and fresh faces this weekend as the team opened the season hitting an impressive 29/30 routines. Turkish national team member Emre Dodanli led the competition with a 14.75 on floor, 14.7 on vault, and a 14.05 on high bar, which earned him three event titles. Returning to the lineup after a full year out from multiple injuries was redshirt sophomore Fuzzy Benas, who added four strong routines for the Sooners, including a 14.6 on vault.

With senior Dan Simmons (ankle) and sophomore Mac Seyler (ACL) recovering from injuries, freshmen Colin Flores, Tas Hajdu, and Max Bereznev, as well as redshirt freshman Leo Koike and senior Zachary Marckx all made their McCasland debuts. Hajdu won the rings title with a 14.1, and Colin Flores won parallel bars with a 13.8.

The Falcons struggled a little in Oklahoma, going 382.750 with a handful of falls across the night. Ten gymnasts performed Air Force’s 30 routines, and while it’s still early in the season, three Falcons competed in the all-around (no Sooners did all six).

Erich Upton took home the all-around title with a 79.300; Garrett Braunton and Tai Gopaul followed behind with a 77.050 and a 74.200, respectively. Patrick Hoopes notched a 14.350 on his trademark pommel horse, which was good enough to take home the title. Joining Hoopes, Braunton led the Falcons on floor (13.55), Rings (13.0), and High Bar (13.5), and Upton led the Falcons on vault (14.45) and parallel bars (13.15).

Stanford vs. California

Final Score: Stanford 413.800 – California 388.200

Despite a handful of errors and sub-70s on every event, Stanford edged out Oklahoma by two-tenths to claim the highest team score of the season so far and remind the country that they are well on their way to a potential five-peat after debuting with a 413.800 to Cal’s 388.200.

The Cardinal swept the event titles, with Asher Hong claiming floor (14.4), rings (14.6), parallel bars (14.45), and the all-around (84.85). Khoi Young and Taylor Burkhart won pommel horse (14.85) and vault (14.5), respectively. Sophomore Kaien J-Spencer and freshman David Shamah made their debuts, with Spencer posting a 13.5 on floor and Shamah with a 13.2 for his front handspring double front on vault. Burkhart joined Hong as the only other all-arounder of the competition, posting an impressive 83.250. Also returning from injury was Ian Lasic-Ellis; he competed on two events and took home the high bar title with a 14.25. 

The Bears opened the season with a 388.200. Freshmen Tucker Yasunaga, Jaxon Mitchell, and Carter Kim made strong debuts in Haas Pavilion. With a 13.45 on floor, 14.0 on vault, and a 12.75 on high bar, Kim was named Best Bear of the Cal Benefit Cup. The long awaited return of sixth year Darren Wong came to fruition as fans saw him on pommel horse and still rings, where he scored a 12.8 and 12.95, respectively. Theodor Gadderud was the Bears’ rock this weekend, competing on every event except horse. Top scores for the Bears included Tyler Shimizu on floor (14.0), Chris Scales on horse (13.15) and rings (13.6), freshman Carter Kim on vault (14.0), Noah Sano on parallel bars (13.9), and freshman Tucker Yasunaga on high bar (13.0).