NCAA men’s gymnastics season to open Saturday with Army-Penn State matchup, Michigan tri-meet

By Alex Wittenberg | January 6, 2023
Paul Juda - Michigan
Michigan's Paul Juda during the 2022 NCAA Men's Gymnastics Championships semifinals. (© Amy Sanderson)

The NCAA men’s gymnastics season kicks off this weekend with a meeting of rivals and an early look at a top contender for the national crown. 

Two meets are scheduled for Saturday afternoon. Continue reading for a breakdown of both contests and what to watch for in each team’s first showing this season. Stay tuned for GymNow’s complete preview of the 2023 NCAA men’s gymnastics season, coming next week. 

Nittany Lions take on Army

Penn State will host the Black Knights on Saturday and begin a campaign focused on vaulting the team back to the NCAA finals. Returning standouts for the Nittany Lions include team captain Matt Cormier, Michael Jaroh, Ethan Dick, Chase Clingman, and Michael Artlip. The team also adds a crop of five freshmen to the roster this year.

We’ll be watching Penn State’s performance on floor, parallel bars, and high bar especially closely — the Nittany Lions will need to show improvement on those events, their weakest last season, if they want to contend for finals at NCAAs and a podium spot in the Big Ten. Sophomore Josh Karnes is also poised for a breakout year after a solid freshman season that included a runner-up finish on parallel bars at Big Tens. 

Josh Karnes and Matt Cormier - Penn State
Penn State’s Josh Karnes and Matt Cormier fist bump during the 2022 NCAA Men’s Gymnastics Championships semifinals. (© Amy Sanderson)

Penn State enters 2023 ranked fifth in the CGA preseason coaches poll. 

On paper, Army’s chances of upsetting the host team are slim at best, but early-season matchups can feature surprises and the Black Knights were competitive in the same meet last year. Army has an experienced roster of six seniors — after graduating four last year — including strong multi-event gymnast Jacob Nauman. Still, they’ll be without all-arounder Mathew Davis, who led the squad throughout his senior campaign last season.

Army’s success will be largely dependent on improving its pommel horse lineup. The event was the Black Knights’ weakest last year in spite of solid contributions from then-freshman Gabe Almeida and Zachary Mitchell, who graduated last year. It’s worth watching how the Black Knights round out the pommel lineup beyond Almeida this year. 

A strong performance against Penn State would help prepare Army to challenge academy rival Navy next weekend. The Black Knights are no doubt hungry to challenge Navy and Air Force after trailing both teams at NCAAs last year. This weekend should offer a clue about how competitive the academy teams will be this season. 

Army begins the season ranked 11th in the CGA preseason coaches poll. 

A challenger to Stanford? No. 2 Michigan starts season at home against Greenville, Simpson

The Wolverines’ path to unseating defending champion Stanford starts on Saturday, with Michigan hosting the newest NCAA teams in Greenville and Simpson. While it’s probably premature to forecast out as far as postseason, Michigan is one of very few teams with the talent to take on the Cardinal. A competitive 2023 championship final is an exciting prospect.

Michigan boasts one of the country’s most experienced rosters with eight juniors and seven seniors, led by defending NCAA champ Paul Juda. Juda himself is part of a standout senior class that includes David Willett, Crew Bold, Adam Wooten, and Markus Shears.

Michigan also returns 2023 All-Americans Javier Alfonso, Evgeny Siminiuc, and David Wolma. The squad’s five-man freshman class features Fred Richard, one of the highest-ranked freshman in the country.

In addition to a national title, Michigan will be eyeing its third-straight Big Ten title. They enter this season ranked second in the CGA preseason coaches poll. 

Saturday will mark the start of Greenville and Simpson’s inaugural seasons. We are thrilled to welcome them into the fold of NCAA men’s gymnastics. Greenville’s coaches are former Nebraska gymnasts Zach Peters and Jake Bonnay. Simpson’s coaches are Colin Payne, former assistant coach at Navy, and Matt Reints

Greenville and Simpson rank No. 14 and No. 15, respectively in the CGA preseason coaches poll.

Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly denoted Greenville and Simpson as GymACT teams. They are NCAA teams.