NCAA men’s gymnastics Week 6 recap: A weekend of upsets sees OU top Stanford, Penn State beat Michigan

By Alex Wittenberg | February 15, 2023
Penn State’s Matt Cormier celebrates after a routine against Michigan.
Penn State’s Matt Cormier celebrates after a routine against Michigan. (© Penn State Athletics)

The underdogs came out ahead in Week 6 of NCAA men’s gymnastics. 

Oklahoma defeated top-ranked Stanford, Penn State trounced Michigan, and Ohio State mounted a comeback over Illinois. Each of those three was expected to lose going into the weekend. 

Meanwhile, Air Force set a season high in a dominant win over Cal and Army, and Greenville notched a season best in its win over Simpson. 

Here’s what happened in Week 6 of NCAA men’s gymnastics. 

OU upsets Stanford to set new season high

Oklahoma defeated No.1 Stanford by five points on Saturday to extend a winning streak at OU’s McCasland Field House that’s been active since 2007. 

The Sooners tallied a seven-point season high on their way to victory, earning their best scores of the year on floor, horse, rings, and parallel bars. OU’s 71.25 on pommel is the nation’s best total on the event by more than a point and a half. 

Stanford competed without Riley Loos, Brody Malone, Colt Walker, Taylor Burkhart, and Khoi Young, but freshman Asher Hong put up the best all-around score in the nation (85.6) after winning vault and parallel bars. 

William & Mary finished third with a season-high 380.75. The Tribe notched their best event scores of 2023 on floor, pommel horse, and parallel bars. 

The Sooners started the meet with a season-best 70.7 on floor, with Spencer Goodell and Jack Freeman leading the lineup. Goodell opened his set with a layout double-double, then bounded through a triple-connection pass before sticking his full-twisting double back dismount. He won the event with a 14.9, the nation’s best score on the event, and Freeman finished third (14.6).

Spencer Goodell (Oklahoma) – FX vs. Stanford, William & Mary

On horse, Ignacio Yockers earned the best score in the country (15.1) to claim the event title and lead the OU lineup to a giant 71.25. Yockers’ 6.4-difficulty set included two E flops, a Sohn, Wu, Roth, and handstand dismount. Zach Nunez was second on the event with a 14.7 and a 9.3 execution score. 

OU’s Goodell was best among the Sooners on rings, scoring a 14.1 to take third with a set comprising a back uprise straight planche and a stuck full-twisting double layout dismount. Oklahoma’s rings score trailed Stanford’s by about two points, but after the first three events, the Sooners led the Cardinal by 4.1 points. 

The Sooners counted one fall on vault, but Daniel Simmons came up with a huge stick of his Roche for the second-straight week to place second with a 14.85. Emre Dodanli was close behind with a 14.7 for his clean Kas 1.5. 

OU was less than a point behind Stanford on parallel bars but beat the Cardinal by more than two points on high bar. Raydel Gamboa and Nunez led the parallel bars effort, placing third and fourth, respectively. Gamboa performed a peach handstand, Makutz, healy, and stuck his double pike dismount to score 14.0 with a 9.0 execution score. 

OU capped the meet with its second-best high bar score of the season and stuck all five dismounts. Kelton Christiansen matched his season-high to win the event, posting a 14.0 after catching a layout Jaeger, finishing his Tak half close to handstand, executing strong inbar work throughout, and sticking his full-twisting double layout dismount. Dodanli was third, performing a Tak half, Kolman, Kovacs, straddle and pike Tkatchevs, and sticking his layout double-double dismount. 

OU finished the meet with a 418.9, and Nunez was runner-up in the all-around with an 83.55. 

Stanford started its meet on horse and counted two missed routines on the event. Ian Lasic-Ellis performed the team’s best pommel routine from the anchor position, displaying a scissor handstand, Busnari, E flop, D flop, and E handstand dismount (14.4).

On rings, the Cardinal counted a fall on one dismount and a rough landing on a second but still reached the 70.0 mark. Nick Kuebler won the event with a 14.3, and Ian Gunther was second with a 14.2. Kuebler opened his set with a back uprise straight planche before moving to a kip Maltese and a stuck double-double dismount.

Asher Hong (Stanford) – VT @ Oklahoma

Stanford took a hit on floor, its third rotation, trailing the Sooners by more than two points on the event after counting three missed routines. Hong helped salvage the rotation, putting up a 14.7 after landing his front full to double pike, layout double-double, and triple full dismount. 

The Cardinal took the top two spots on parallel bars. Hong was first with a 14.65, showing off a 6.0 difficulty set and a double front half-out dismount. Lasic-Ellis was runner-up with a 14.6 with a set that included a whip it, Makutz, straddle front one-and-a-quarter, and a stuck double front half-out dismount. 

Stanford counted one fall on high bar and a few angle deductions on inbar elements. Brandon Nguyen had the best set for the Cardinal, catching a Kolman, layout Tkatchev, and straddle to pike Tkatchev to take second with a 13.95. 

Stanford closed its meet with a big vault rotation and its second-best total on the event this season. Hong led the rotation, earning a 15.15 for his Ri Se Gwang. Brandon Briones was next-best for Stanford with a Kas 1.5 that netted him a 14.7 and a third-place finish. The Cardinal finished the meet with a 413.8. 

William & Mary’s season-high on floor was led by Trenton Peazant, who went 13.35 with a Randi opening pass and a back 2.5 dismount. Ricky Pizem and Sam Smith led the team to its best finish on horse, scoring 12.55 and 12.5, respectively. 

On parallel bars, the Tribe’s Aidan Cuy finished sixth with a 13.75, performing a free-hip mount, Diamidov half, and sticking his double pike dismount. The Tribe finished the meet with a 380.75. 

Penn State scores commanding win over Michigan at home

The Nittany Lions sealed a six-point upset over Big Ten rival Michigan in a dual meet on Saturday to shake off a couple conference losses and regain momentum. Penn State took the lead after the first event and held it through to the end, widening its lead after Michigan suffered a rough vault rotation and falls earlier in the meet. 

Penn State started out the competition by matching its second-best total of the year on floor (67.3) while counting a fall. Matt Cormier had a big set, sticking his triple full dismount to score a 14.6 for the event title, and Josh Karnes made his season debut on floor by taking the runner-up spot with a 14.05. Michigan counted two falls on floor. The team’s best counting score on the event was a 13.8 by Casey Cummings, and Fred Richard went 14.0 while competing for his all-around total, placing third.

Josh Karnes (Penn State) – FX vs. Michigan

The Nittany Lions led by 1.8 going into horse, where each team counted a number of falls. Penn State’s Ethan Dick, Josh Karnes, and Michael Jaroh all came off the apparatus, but Chase Clingman turned in a strong hit of his 5.9-difficulty set to win the event with a 14.4. Penn State’s 65.65 on horse was its second-best total of the year. Michigan counted falls by Landen Blixt, Logan McKeown, and Richard, but Markus Shears came in clutch with a big hit in the anchor spot that scored 14.05 for a second place finish. David Willett led off the event with a clean hit that scored 13.55 and netted him third. 

Michigan trailed by four points after horse. The Wolverines then put up their second-best total of the year on rings (68.85) to cut into Penn State’s lead slightly. Michigan’s Javier Alfonso tied for first on rings with a 14.1, performing a back uprise straight planche lower to Maltese, back uprise Maltese, and sticking his full-twisting double layout dismount. Penn State’s Karnes tied Alfonso for the title after sticking his layout double-double dismount, and Ian Raubal was right behind with a 14.05 for a third-place finish. Penn State counted one fall on the event.

Penn State took control of the meet on vault, leading by more than eight points after the rotation. Cormier stuck his Kas 1.5 to win the event with a 14.85, and Karnes was third after landing his own Kas 1.5 (14.35). Michigan counted one fall and a balk that resulted in a front handspring vault (1.6 difficult score) and a score of 10.85. The Wolverines scored a 66.6 on vault to Penn State’s 71.7.

Penn State added to its advantage by more than a point on parallel bars, with Karnes leading the way with a 14.7 and a stuck double front dismount good for second place. The Nittany Lions finished the event with a nearly 10-point lead. Michigan counted another two falls on parallel bars, but Evgeny Siminiuc and Virgil Watkins placed first and third, respectively, after hitting the two most difficult routines on the event. Siminiuc performed a healy, peach half, peach, a huge straddle front one-and-a-quarter and Bhavsar, and stuck his double pike dismount to earn a 14.95, the nation’s second-best score on the event this season. Watkins’ routine featured a free-hip mount, healy, front uprise Stutz, Bhavsar, and double front dismount. 

Michigan then notched a season-best of 69.55 on high bar. Richard, in the anchor spot, caught his Cassina, Kovacs, layout to straddle Tkatchev, and stuck his layout double-double dismount to win the event with a 14.5. Crew Bold and Robert Noll tied for second with scores of 13.85, and Adam Wooten was close behind in fourth with a 13.8. Penn State’s Raubal was best for the Nittany Lions on high bar, scoring a 13.5 for a sixth-place finish. Penn State closed the meet with a 407.6 — tying the team’s season-high — to Michigan’s 401.45. 

Ohio State tops Illinois after comeback in dual meet

The Buckeyes handed Illinois its first conference loss on Saturday after season-high showings on rings and vault helped Ohio recover from mistakes early in the meet.  

Ohio State trailed the Illini by close to three points after floor and about eight points after horse, and Illinois took the top three spots on both events. Illinois’ Connor McCool added to his cache of floor titles after sticking his triple full dismount and scoring 14.15. Amari Sewell and Michael Fletcher finished second and third, respectively, with scores of 14.0 and 13.9. The Illini had a 1.5-point advantage in difficulty score on the event. 

On horse, Illinois counted two falls but saw strong sets from Maksim Farkhadau, David Pochinka, and Ian Skirkey, who took the title with a 14.6. Skirkey fought through his first E flop before finishing the set well, performing a Sohn, second E flop, Wu, Roth, and triple Russian dismount. Farkhadau and Pochinka took second and third, respectively. Ohio State counted three falls on the apparatus, and the team’s 61.4 was a season low by almost three points.

The Buckeyes made up some ground on rings, scoring a 66.95 to Illinois’ 66.4 while counting a fall. Donovan Hewitt was best for the Buckeyes, competing a back uprise straight planche lower to Maltese, back uprise Maltese, and a 1.5-twisting double back dismount to score 14.1 and place second. Illinois went five-for-five, and Ashton Anaya claimed the event title with a 14.8. Anaya showed off an Azarian Maltese, butterfly pull to straight planche, back uprise Maltese to Nakayama, and a tucked full-twisting double back dismount.

Ashton Anaya (Illinois) – SR @ Ohio State

Ohio State’s comeback began in earnest on vault, where the Buckeyes beat Illinois by about 3.5 points and took the top five spots while setting a new season high. Kameron Nelson performed a gorgeous front handspring double full, taking a small hop forward on the landing to score 14.65 for the title. Hewitt landed his Kas 1.5 to place second, and Kazuki Hayashi took bronze after sticking his Kas full. Illinois was forced to count two falls on the event, both on Kas 1.5s. 

The Buckeyes made up more ground on parallel bars, scoring 1.5 points better than Illinois while counting one miss. Ohio State’s best set of the rotation came from Tyler Rockwood in the leadoff spot. Rockwood executed a peach handstand, Makutz, healy, and landed his double pike dismount to place third (13.8). The Illini counted two misses at the end of the rotation but claimed the top two parallel bars spots. Will Hauke was first with a 14.0 and a routine featuring a peach half, peach handstand, Bhavsar, and a clean double pike. Fletcher was runner-up with a score of 13.95.  

Illinois had a more than two-point lead heading into the last rotation. Illinois’ Evan Manivong opened the rotation well, executing three one-arm elements and sticking his full-twisting double layout dismount to place third. But the Illini later suffered two falls on release elements while the Buckeyes rallied through five strong hits. Caden Spencer and Hayashi closed out the rotation with a flourish, placing first and second, respectively. Spencer connected a layout and straddle Tkatchev, caught his straddle Piatti, finished his Tak half right in handstand, and nearly stuck his full twisting double layout dismount. He won the event with a 13.75. Hayashi was right behind from the anchor spot with a 13.65 for a set that included a straddle to pike Tkatchev, a Kovacs, and a clean dismount. 

The Buckeyes finished with a 401.0 to Illinois’ 399.2. 

Around the country

Air Force dominated during a tri-meet with Army and Cal, setting a new season high and shaking off a tough performance Week 4. 

The Falcons had the best team score on every event save high bar and set new season bests on three events. Erich Upton and Sam Metzler tied for the floor title with scores of 13.5, with Jake Sampier right behind in third with a 13.4. Upton opened with his signature triple-twisting double back before landing his front full to double front and triple full dismount. Metzler got the Falcons’ strong meet started from the lead-off spot on floor, performing a Randi and clean triple full dismount.

Air Force’s Patrick Hoopes won horse with a 14.2 despite counting a fall, and Jack Matlock was third after scoring a 13.9. Hoopes saved what looked to be a Sohn attempt by connecting it directly to a beautiful F flop but came off on a full Stockli. Hoopes then repeated both the full stockli and Sohn to finish well and claim the win with a 6.5 difficulty score.

Air Force’s Tai Gopaul was second on vault after sticking his Kas full, and Garrett Braunton took third on rings, vault, and high bar. 

The Falcons will ride the momentum from their win into next week’s All-Academy Championship. 

Cal was roughly nine points back from Air Force after struggling on floor and parallel bars. But the Bears claimed four individual titles, and Noah Newfeld had a season-best all-around showing (79.8).

Newfeld put up a 14.0 on rings to take the event title, performing a back uprise straight planche, straight-body press handstand, and a full-twisting double layout dismount. Cal’s Jasper Smith-Gordon was first on vault with a big Kas 1.5 (14.5), and Theodor Gadderud and Newfeld were first and second, respectively, on parallel bars. Gadderud executed a peach handstand, Tippelt, healy, straddle front one-and-a-quarter, and stuck his double pike dismount (14.0). Newfeld also tied for a title on high bar, catching two Tkatchevs and sticking his full-twisting double layout dismount (13.45).  

Army’s score of 382.1 was a more than 10-point drop from the previous meet, with misses on vault, parallel bars, and floor weighing on the team. The Black Knights’ Zachary Perez tied Newfeld for the high bar title, and Joseph Buselmeier was runner-up on rings.

Greenville set a new season high (373.35) during its victory over Simpson and claimed five individual titles. The team also notched season bests on floor and vault. 

Greenville’s Zach Connelly was first on floor with a 13.35. Major Bain was at the top of an all-Greenville podium with his 12.7 on pommel horse, while Jacob Foster and Koby Cantu were second and third, respectively. 

Foster also won rings with a 12.75, with Elijah Cruz and Ethan Poole rounding out the podium spots. Michael Avery scored a 14.3 to win vault, and Bain was right behind with a 14.25. Ryan Barela was third on vault with a 14.05. 

Greenville’s Foster was best on high bar (12.65), and Ricky Mays and Cantu were second and third, respectively. 

Simpson’s 359.2 was a season high by almost seven points, and the team had their best scores of the year on floor, rings, vault, and parallel bars.

Simpson’s Alex Catchpole won parallel bars with a 12.7, and Camden Bontempo and Sterling Pariza were second and third, respectively, on floor. Pariza was also first all-around with a 71.05.