MPSF Men’s Gymnastics Week 5 Preview: Bears return to the Farm, Oklahoma hosts Ohio State

By Aidan Giusti | February 2, 2024
Oklahoma's Zach Nunez at the 2022 NCAA Men's Gymnastics Championships.
© Amy Sanderson/Gymnastics Now

Week 5 5of MPSF men’s gymnastics sees California head back to Palo Alto for another dual with Stanford – their third time facing off this season. Oklahoma returns to McCasland Field House, where they host Ohio State. Air Force is off this weekend in preparation for the All-Academy Championships. 

#10 California @ #1 Stanford

Week 5 Matchup: Saturday, February 3 @ 7 p.m. ET |


Stanford looks to continue building off its 415.25 performance from last weekend as they host the Bears again in Burnham Pavilion. Asher Hong, Khoi Young, and Colt Walker will be competing for Team USA at the Cottbus World Cup from February 22-25 in Germany. While they will most likely be resting this weekend, Taylor Burkhart is expected to return to at least a few lineups. Regardless, Hong, Young, and Walker will leave quite a few open spots in the Cardinal lineups, but with a bench as deep as Stanford, the team is ready and capable to step up to the plate.

Heading into this weekend, Walker said, “It is still early in the season and there are a lot of areas that still need to be polished, but we are starting to gain traction. Progress is coming along, and we are aiming for a strong peak at NCAAs.” 

Routines to watch:

  • Mark Berlaga on rings: The only way to describe Berlaga’s routine is strength. He’s one of the strongest guys in the NCAA, yet he makes his routine look like a walk in the park. As a rings specialist, his routine is not one you want to miss.
  • J.R. Chou on pommel horse: Chou’s routine is solid and full of flairs. His routine feels long, but it’s jam-packed with difficulty and flashy elements that make it so fun and engaging to watch.


After a 396.300 last weekend in Palo Alto, the Bears have their eyes set on breaking 400 this weekend. It’s definitely not an easy feat, but it’s doable for the Bears who had a handful of mistakes in their last outing.

After his debut last weekend, Brendan Strom said, “As a team, we all have one goal in mind: to prove that we can compete on equal footing as other top teams…”

Heading into this week, head coach JT Okada said, “We had a solid Stanford Open with plenty of room to improve. We continue to be about getting better one meet at a time.”

With the Stanford Open serving as a Winter Cup qualifying event, the Bears laid out their lineups accordingly, which paid off because captain Noah Newfeld earned his spot to compete Kentucky. As for this weekend, Okada said, “We will likely mix up our lineups this weekend and test some new guys out in the lineups.”

Routines to watch:

  • Jasper Smith-Gordon on floor: After competing floor for the first time in over two years last weekend, Smith-Gordon is back and, when healthy, will easily be leading the Bears on floor. Strong and dynamic twisting pairs with powerful tumbling and makes Smith-Gordon’s routine one to put on your list.
  • Jelani Sweet on vault: A Tsuk 2.5 may not be the rarest vault in the NCAA, but few, if any, gymnasts are as energetic and excited as Sweet. Watching Sweet compete vault will bring a smile to your face and fire you up for the rest of the competition.

#6 Ohio State @ #1 Oklahoma

Week 5 Matchup: Saturday, February 3 @ 7 p.m. ET | Ohio State @ OklahomaLive Stats | Watch (ESPN+)


The Sooners return to McCasland this weekend where they host Ohio State. After their 406.65 performance in Urbana-Champaign last weekend, the Sooner will look to get closer to their 420.35 performance from two weeks ago. Hopefully Fuzzy Benas and Daniel Simmons will be among the Sooners competing this weekend; having them back from illness and injury, respectively, will add a great layer of strength and experience to the Sooner squad. Being back on their home equipment and competing in front of the home crowd will also help the Sooners this weekend, as they continue to challenge Stanford for the No. 1 spot.

Routines to watch:

  • Brigham Frentheway on floor: Frentheway put up a strong 14.3 on floor last weekend. The only way to describe his routine is power and control; his tumbling gets great height and his landings are rock-solid.
  • Kelton Christiansen on high bar: Christiansen’s routine has some unique skills that you don’t see everyday in the NCAA, including a Balabanov (straight Jaeger) and Rybalko. His rare skill selection and his nice body line on high bar make his routine really satisfying to watch.

#9 Air Force

The Falcons are off this weekend before competing at the All-Academy Championships on February 10. In preparation for the meet, Erich Upton said, “We are going into this next week focusing on our own gymnastics and treating this as a normal meet. While trying to hit 30/30 sets, we are focusing on cleaning up and minimizing unnecessary deductions.”