NCAA men’s gymnastics returns with OU-Michigan matchup, Stanford tri-meet

By Alex Wittenberg | March 3, 2023

The second half of the 2023 NCAA men’s gymnastics season gets started on Friday following last weekend’s Winter Cup meet, where a number of current and former college gymnasts vied for spots on the U.S. senior national team. 

William & Mary will take on Penn State on Friday in a dual meet in State College. On Saturday, Ohio State and Army face off in West Point, Cal and Illinois travel to Stanford, and Oklahoma hosts Michigan. 

Greenville, Springfield, and Simpson will meet in Indianola, Iowa, on Sunday, and William & Mary gears up for its second competition of the weekend in a dual meet at Navy the same day. 

Here’s what to watch in Week 9 of NCAA men’s gymnastics. 

Oklahoma hosts Michigan

WHEN: Saturday, March 4 @ 7 p.m. ET | WATCH: ESPN+

The Sooners last competed in a dual meet against Nebraska in Lincoln, earning a less than one-point win and coming close to its season high score. At that meet, OU’s Vitaliy Guimaraes claimed the floor title, Ignacio Yockers won pommel horse with a nation-best 15.55, and Adriel Perales took first on parallel bars. Oklahoma also posted the best pommel score in the country, largely thanks to Yockers’ and Zach Nunez’s routines. 

OU is riding a winning streak at the McCasland Field House that’s been active since 2007. That means Michigan will have to bring something on Saturday that no team in the past 16 years has managed to. 

Routines to watch from OU include:

  • Yockers’ horse set. Yockers finished second at last weekend’s Winter Cup after tallying a Day 2 score of 15.472. 
  • Guimaraes’ floor. The OU fifth-year is second in the country on the event and has scored as high as 14.75. 
  • Spencer Goodell’s floor. Goodell competes a high-difficulty set that includes a layout double double and triple-connection pass. 

Michigan fell to Penn State its last time out by a little more than six points, counting mistakes on floor, pommel horse, and vault. But the Wolverines’ Fred Richard is coming off a second place all-around finish at Winter Cup on Friday and will be hungry to lead his team to a strong result. Michigan’s Landen Blixt and Javier Alfonso also had strong showings at the Winter Cup, with Alfonso finishing fourth on rings and Blixt second on high bar. 

Routines to watch from Michigan include:

  • Richard’s high bar set. Richard was best on the event on Day 1 of Winter Cup by a more than one-point margin, showing off a Cassina, Kolman, connected layout and straddle Tkatchevs, and much more. 
  • Evgeny Siminiuc’s parallel bars. The junior notched a 14.95 against Penn State after sticking his double pike dismount and performing a healy, peach half, peach, a floaty straddle front one-and-a-quarter, and a Bhavsar.
  • Alfonso’s rings. The junior and 2022 rings All-American earned a 14.1 against Penn State with a stuck full-twisting double layout dismount. 

Stanford, Cal, Illinois battle in tri-meet

WHEN: Saturday, March 4 @ 5 p.m. ET | WATCH: Virtius

The Cardinal’s last major competition was a dual meet versus Oklahoma in Week 6, where Stanford fell to the Sooners by more than five points while resting some of its top gymnasts. Stanford had a number of current athletes on the floor at last weekend’s Winter Cup, and seven of them qualified onto the senior national team (that’s almost 50% of the team).

The Cardinal could rest some of the gymnasts who competed last weekend, especially those who competed both days of the meet, including Riley Loos, Jeremy Bischoff, Ian Gunther, and Khoi Young. If so, Stanford could find itself in a tight match against an Illini team that has defeated Michigan and Penn State this season and come within a point of OU. 

Routines to watch from the Cardinal include: 

  • Brandon Briones’ rings. Briones has risen in the rankings throughout the season by executing difficult strength elements — inverted crosses, Malteses, straight planches — and showing off one of the best full-twisting double layout dismounts in the country. 
  • Khoi Young’s vault. Young hit two beautiful handspring randis at last weekend’s Winter Cup. He’s also competed a Yurchenko half-on double full this season. 
  • Ian Lasic-Ellis’ parallel bars. Lasic-Ellis finished fourth in the all-around portion Winter Cup with the fifth-best parallel bars routine of the day. He’s scored as high as 14.6 on the event this season. 

The Illini lost to Ohio State during their last NCAA competition, suffering falls on high bar that allowed the Buckeyes to secure a comeback victory. But Illinois has proved capable of knocking off better-ranked teams this season, and the squad’s near-upset over Oklahoma was a testimony to the Illini’s poise during high-pressure matchups. Illinois had a few gymnasts competing at Winter Cup, including pommel worker Ian Skirkey, who secured a senior national team spot with a huge Day 2 set that netted him the title and a 15.972, including bonus. Connor McCool took third on floor. 

Routines to watch from Illinois include: 

  • Skirkey’s horse. Skirkey’s clutch Day 2 routine at Winter Cup featured a Sohn, full stockli, two E flops, and a clean triple Russian dismount for a 6.5 difficulty score.
  • McCool’s floor. McCool, true to form, stuck a number of difficult passes at Winter Cup, including his 2.5-twisting double back Day 1 and his triple full dismount Day 2. 
  • Ashton Anaya’s rings. Anaya put up one of the best rings scores in the country versus Ohio State, tallying a 14.8 with his Azarian Maltese, butterfly pull to straight planche, and tucked full-twisting double back dismount. 

Cal scored a virtual win over Springfield in Week 7 after putting up its second-best total of the year on floor and setting a new top score on vault. The Bears came away with all seven individual titles, and Khalen Curry set a new modern-era record on vault for Cal with his 14.7. Cal will be looking to get above 390 this weekend — the team scored 390 or higher in its first two meets of the season but has yet to breach the 390 barrier again. 

Routines to watch from Cal include:

  • Curry’s vault. Curry competes a clean Kas 1.5 that has big scoring potential. 
  • Theodor Gadderud’s high bar and floor. Gadderud won both events at Cal’s last meet with respective scores of 13.1 and 13.65. 
  • Noah Newfeld’s horse and rings. Newfeld was first on both events versus Springfield. His 13.8 horse routine included a Sohn, two D flops, Tong Fei, and swing handstand dismount.  

William & Mary vs. Penn State

WHEN: Friday, March 3 @ 6 p.m. ET | WATCH: BTN+

The Nittany Lions captured a statement win over Michigan their last time out, holding the lead throughout the meet. Penn State’s Josh Karnes is also coming off a successful Winter Cup performance that earned him a spot on the senior national team. The Nittany Lions will be eager to start out the second half of the NCAA season with a win that builds on their victory over Michigan and sets the team on a steady path to the postseason. Routines to watch from Penn State include: 

  • Karnes’ parallel bars. Karnes tied for third on the event at Winter Cup with scores of 14.4 and 14.3. In the NCAA, he’s scored as high as 14.7 with his signature Bhavsar. 
  • Matt Cormier’s floor. Cormier nearly matched his season-high on the event against Michigan, putting up a 14.6 after sticking his triple full dismount. 
  • Ian Raubal’s rings. The Penn State freshman is No. 6 in the country on the event and has scored as high as 14.5. 

William & Mary has been improving week to week since its third meet of the season, and the team recorded a two-point season high against OU and Stanford in Week 6. At that meet, William & Mary set season bests on floor, pommel horse, and parallel bars, with strong routines from Trenton Peazant, Ricky Pizem, and Sam Smith. Routines to watch from the Tribe include: 

  • Peazant’s floor. Peazant notched a 13.35 vs. OU and Stanford with a Randi opening pass and back 2.5 dismount.  
  • Christian Marsh’s rings. Marsh had a season-high score on the event his last time competing, performing a back uprise Maltese push to straight planche. He’s capable of a triple back dismount.
  • Aidan Cuy’s parallel bars. Cuy tied for sixth on the event versus OU and Stanford with a 13.75 and stuck double pike dismount.

Ohio State vs. Army

WHEN: Saturday, March 4 @ 12 p.m. ET | WATCH: Facebook

The Buckeyes upset Illinois their last time out after dominant vault and high bar rotations. Kameron Nelson is also riding high after winning both floor and vault at last weekend’s Winter Cup. Routines to watch this Saturday from Ohio State include: 

  • Caden Spencer’s high bar. The Buckeye freshman has been on a tear this season, scoring 13.9 twice with a set comprising a layout connected to straddle Tkatchev, straddle Piatti, and some of the country’s best Tak work. 
  • Nelson’s floor. The Winter Cup champ competed a triple back (Liukin) opening pass and, front full to double front, front double pike, and triple full dismount. 
  • Parker Thackston’s horse. Thackston has scored as high as 14.1 this season while performing two E flops and a fluid handstand dismount. 

Army fell to Navy and Air Force at the All-Academy Championships in Week 7 despite posting its second-best score of the year. The team suffered mistakes toward the end of that meet on high bar, vault, and parallel bars that allowed Navy to slip by the Black Knights and take second. Army will be focused on cleaning up each of those three events and scoring above a 390. Routines to watch from Army include: 

  • Joseph Buselmeier’s rings. Buselmeier won the event at All-Academy after sticking his tucked full-twisting double back dismount. 
  • Gabe Almeida’s horse. Almeida was fourth on the event at the All-Academy meet with a 13.4.  
  • Kalvin Kingshill’s floor. Kingshill had his best score of the season on floor versus Army and Navy, opening his set with a tucked full-twisting double back and finishing with a back 2.5.

Simpson hosts Greenville, Springfield

WHEN: Sunday, March 5 @ 1 p.m. ET

The two youngest NCAA men’s gymnastics programs will face off on Sunday, and Springfield will look to capture a win by getting back into the mid-to-high 380s. 

Springfield lost to Cal in Week 7 after declining in total score and on all six events from the week before. But Andrae Butler, Dominic Ramalho, Sam Kaplan, and David Handron had strong individual performances during the meet that the Pride will rely on this Sunday to vault the team to a win. Routines to watch from Springfield include: 

  • Butler’s floor. Butler placed second versus Cal after sticking his front full to double front opening pass, his front double pike, and his tucked Arabian double. 
  • Handron’s rings. Handron was runner-up on the event in Week 7 with a 13.55 and stuck full-twisting double tuck dismount. 
  • Ramalho’s parallel bars and high bar. Ramalho took silver on both events against Cal. 

Greenville last competed in a dual meet against Simpson in Week 6, where the team captured a 14-point win and set a new season high. Greenville took five individual event titles and had the best team score on every event except for floor. Routines to watch from Greenville include: 

  • Michael Avery’s vault. Avery put up a season-best 14.3 to take the title against Simpson. 
  • Zach Connelly’s floor. Connelly broke into the 13s for the first time in Week 6, notching a 13.35 for the event title. 
  • Major Bain’s pommel horse. Bain also had his best score of the season against Simpson on horse. He went 12.7 to take the win. 

Simpson faced OU and Nebraska Week 7 and significantly improved its team score from the prior week against Greenville, earning a 367.15 for a healthy season high. Another score in the high 360s would allow Simpson to seriously challenge Greenville, so we’ll be watching to see whether Simpson can repeat its strong performances on pommel and floor this Sunday. Routines to watch from Simpson include: 

  • Milo Staley’s horse. Staley placed ninth versus OU and Nebraska after performing clean Magyar and Sivado elements and scoring a 13.3. 
  • Michelangelo Villani’s vault. Villani scored a 13.85 in Week 7 with his layout Kas half. 
  • Alex Catchpole’s horse and parallel bars. Catchpole placed 11th on both events versus OU and Nebraska. 

Navy takes on William & Mary

WHEN: Sunday, March 5 @ 2 p.m. ET

William & Mary will compete for the second time this weekend on Sunday against Navy. The Mids are coming off a second-place finish at the All-Academy Championships, where they posted a 393.0 for their fourth score above 390 this season. The Mids will look to defend at home by scoring into the mid 390s on Sunday and setting a new top score by beating their season-opening 394.5. A strong horse rotation will be crucial for the Mids: The team ranks No. 11 on the event, lagging rivals, but has strong pommel talent in Ronan McQuillan and Syam Buradagunta. Routines to watch from the Mids include: 

  • Matthew Petros’ vault. Petros won the event at All-Academy with a score of 14.45 after sticking his Kas full. 
  • Isaiah Drake’s high bar. Drake led an all Navy podium on the event at All-Academy with his 13.55, performing a Tak half, layout and straddle Tkatchevs, and sticking his full-twisting double layout dismount. 
  • Caleb Hickey’s floor. Hickey has scored as high as 14.15 this season with a routine that includes a whipback to Arabian double and tucked full-twisting double back dismount.