NCAA men’s gymnastics Week 9 recap: Oklahoma extends win streak, Greenville upsets Springfield, Malone returns

By Alex Wittenberg | March 8, 2023

NCAA men’s gymnastics returned last weekend after the Winter Cup break with a battle between Oklahoma and Michigan and a Greenville victory over Springfield.

Ohio State captured a confident win over Army, and Brody Malone made his 2023 NCAA debut, competing on five events to help lift Stanford to victory over Illinois and Cal.

Penn State also scored a win on Friday over William & Mary. And Navy was in action on Sunday, competing against the Tribe at home and breaking the 390 mark once again.

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

OU holds off Michigan to preserve home win streak

Oklahoma sealed a four-point win over Michigan on Saturday in a meet that came down to the final few routines on high bar.

Javier Alfonso (Michigan) – SR @ Oklahoma

On that event, both teams suffered one fall during the rotation, adding some drama near the end of an otherwise clean competition. Michigan was trailing by about four points heading into high bar but had narrowed the gap to close to two points midway through the rotation after strong hits from Robert Noll, Steven Lukasik, and Adam Wooten and a fall in OU’s lead-off routine.

But Michigan had to count a missed release element in their fourth routine — which was one of just three misses the Wolverines suffered on Saturday — and an error in their fifth that allowed OU to storm back to a commanding win. Sooner senior Jack Freeman capped the team’s high bar effort with a stuck dismount and a event-winning score of 14.1. 

Oklahoma was in control throughout the night, leading Michigan after every event. On floor, fifth-year Vitaliy Guimaraes took the title with a front full to double front opening pass and clean triple full dismount for a score of 14.1. OU’s Emre Dodanli, Jack Freeman and Michigan’s Javier Alfonso tied for second place with scores of 13.95.

Each team counted one fall on horse, but OU’s Ignacio Yockers and Michigan’s Markus Shears hit huge sets to place first and second, respectively. Yockers, who was coming off a big Winter Cup performance, glided through his 6.4-difficulty set to earn a 15.2. Shears showed off his extended swing during a Sohn, full spindle, and swing to handstand dismount to score a 14.6. OU’s Zach Nunez rounded out the podium with a score of 14.3, while the Sooners’ Mac Seyler and Michigan’s David Willett tied for fourth with 14.1s. 

Wolverine junior Alfonso dominated the rings rotation, sticking one of the country’s best full-twisting double layout dismounts to win by a nine-tenth margin with his 15.0. That’s the top rings score of 2023. Michigan also claimed second and third place on rings: Chris Read performed a 5.7-difficulty set featuring a back uprise Maltese to Nakayama and double-double dismount to score a 14.1, and Wooten was third with a 14.0 after sticking an excellent full-twisting double layout dismount. 

OU led the Wolverines by roughly three points after three events. On vault, Michigan’s David Wolma stuck his Kas 1.5 to earn the title with a 14.75. OU’s Dodanli nearly stuck his own Kas 1.5, taking a tiny hop backward on the landing to place second with a 14.7. The Wolverines’ Read took third with a 14.4 after a hop forward on his Kas 1.5, and his teammate Casey Cummings tied OU’s Nunez for fourth. Michigan and OU went five-for-five on both vault and rings. 

Oklahoma led by more than three points after vault and widened its lead on parallel bars, despite a late-rotation rally by Michigan’s Logan McKeown and Evgeny Siminiuc. The Sooners’ Dodanli tallied a 13.6 for a strong lead-off set while competing in semi-darkness after some of the lights in the arena went out during his routine. Dodanli was unfazed, landing his dismount for OU’s third-best parallel bars set. Adriel Perales turned in a 13.95 after sticking his double-front dismount to tie for third, and senior Spencer Goodell anchored the rotation with a 14.0 that earned him second. 

Meanwhile, Michigan started to build momentum that it carried to high bar during its last two parallel bars routines. McKeown stuck his double pike dismount to tie for third and set up Siminiuc, the country’s No. 2 parallel bars worker, to close the rotation on a high note. Siminiuc did just that, performing a healy, peach half, straddle front one-and-a-quarter, Bhavsar, and sticking his double pike dismount to capture a half-point win with a score of 14.5. 

OU’s four-point lead after parallel bars ultimately proved insurmountable for Michigan, but both teams recorded high hit percentages and a healthy number of stuck dismounts during the night. The Wolverines also rested Fred Richard and Landen Blixt, so they still have room to improve on their Saturday score of 410.4, which is the team’s best on-the-road total of the year. 

Oklahoma, meanwhile, tallied a 414.55 for a satisfying senior night win that extended a home win streak that the Sooners have maintained since 2007. 

Buckeyes notch 5-point season high in win over Army

Ohio State dominated during a dual meet in West Point to capture a more than 20-point win on the road, with Caden Spencer and Kameron Nelson leading the way for the Buckeyes.

The Buckeyes’ 409.95 was a season-best score by about 4.5 points. 

Ohio State started the competition with a season-high floor score of 69.4. Nelson, who won floor at Winter Cup the previous weekend, led his team with a 14.4, performing a front full to double front, front double pike, and triple-full dismount. Spencer took second with a 14.25 to start off his strong day, and OSU’s Jacob Harmon and Jesse Pakele tied for third with 13.7s. 

Army claimed two of the podium positions on horse. Maddox Pabellon won the event with a 14.45, performing a Sohn, E flop, D flop, Tong Fei, and swing handstand dismount. Gabe Almeida went 14.05 to take third behind Ohio State’s Kristian Grahovski, who executed flared travels and a triple Russian dismount to score a 14.15. The Black Knights’ 66.2 on horse was a season-high score by two points. 

Ohio State swept the podiums on rings and vault. Donovan Hewitt added a rings title to his growing collection with a score of 14.0, earned after the senior showed good holds on a back uprise to straight planche, back uprise Maltese, and landed his 1.5-twisting double back. Tomohiro Kawada and Matthew Piekarski rounded out the podium with scores of 13.8 and 13.5, respectively.

On vault, Spencer stuck a lofty Kas full to claim the title with a 14.75. Hewitt landed his Kas 1.5 to tie teammate Jacob Harmon for second place, and Nelson was fourth with a 14.25 awarded for his front handspring double full. The Buckeyes led by 13 points after vault. 

Army’s Joseph Buselmeier had a runner-up finish on parallel bars, scoring a 13.65 after performing a whip it, healy, and double pike dismount. Ohio State’s Spencer and Nelson finished first and third, respectively. Spencer’s set comprised a peach hand, giant Diam, double-pike dismount, and netted him a 14.1. Nelson landed his double front dismount to tally a 13.6. 

The Buckeyes swept the high bar podium to close out the competition. Spencer nabbed his third title of the day with a 13.9 after connecting layout and straddle Tkatchevs, catching a straddle Piatti, and landing his full-twisting double layout dismount. Kazuki Hayashi was second, executing a layout Tkatchev and connecting straddle and pike Tkatchevs, and Hewitt took third after connecting his pike and straddle Tkatchevs. Army’s Zachary Perez and Buselmeier finished fifth and sixth on the event with scores of 13.15 and 13.0, respectively.

Greenville upsets Springfield to set over 10-point season high 

Greenville recorded its biggest win of the year on Sunday, triumphing over Springfield and Simpson after notching season-best performances on floor, pommel horse, and high bar. The team scored 60 or higher on every event for the first time this season and claimed individual event titles on four apparatus.

Ricky Mays (Greenville) – PH @ Simpson

Greenville hit 29-of-30 routines on the way to its more than three-point win. The team finished with a 384.75 to Springfield’s 381.05 and Simpson’s 357.55. 

Greenville started its competition on pommel horse and tied for the best score of the day on the event. Ricky Mays led the effort with a 12.95, and Koby Cantu finished second with a 12.85. 

On rings, Elijah Cruz tied Springfield’s David Handron and Sam Kaplan for the event title with a score of 12.95.

The team continued executing clean routines on floor, tallying the best score of the competition (65.4). Greenville’s Zach Connelly tied Springfield’s Dominic Ramalho to share the event crown with a score of 13.5. Connelly performed a full-twisting double tuck opening pass, back triple full, and stuck his back 2.5 dismount. 

After three events, Greenville led by roughly two points. On parallel bars, Greenville’s Koby Cantu finished third with a 13.05 for the team’s best individual finish on the event. The team moved to high bar and put up the best total on the apparatus by about a point, with strong routines from Cantu and Jacob Foster, who finished second and third, respectively. Kantu showed off clean inbar work, a straddle Tkatchev, and a full-twisting double layout dismount to score a 12.6. Springfield’s Felix Kriedemann was the best finisher on high bar, scoring a 13.15. 

Greenville trailed Springfield by about six points after five events and needed a big vault rotation to find a victory. The team came up with one, scoring a 70.3 for its second-best total of the year, thanks to the contributions of Michael Avery, Major Bain, Ryan Barela, and Thomas Hoagland, all of whom scored 14.0 or higher. Avery stuck his Yurchenko double full cold to score a 14.5 and win the event, while Bain finished third after taking just a small hop forward on an explosive Kas 1.5. 

Springfield had its third-best team result of the year on Sunday and the best totals of the meet on parallel bars and horse (tie). 

The Pride’s Ramalho, in addition to his floor title, won parallel bars in a tie with teammate Kaplan, with each scoring a 13.5. Ramalho also finished second on vault, while Colton O’Brien was runner-up on pommel with a score of 12.85. 

Ramalho and Kaplan finished first and second, respectively, in the all-around. 

Simpson’s 357.55 was a roughly 10-point drop from the team’s previous competition. Much of that decline was counted on pommel horse, where Simpson’s 54.7 was more than eight points less than their horse score at the prior meet. 

Still, Simpson performed well on the other five events and set a season-high total on high bar of 57.45, with Sterling Pariza, Michelangelo Villani, and Camden Bontempo leading the lineup on the event. Pariza was also sixth on floor, Kyle Kincade tied for fifth on rings, and Alex Catchpole was just outside the podium on parallel bars, finishing fourth with a 13.0. 

Navy breaks 390 again in win over William & Mary 

The Mids hit 28-of-30 routines on their way to a 13-point defeat of William & Mary on Sunday. Navy had the best team score on all six events and set a new season high on vault.

Connor Van Loo (Navy) – VT vs. William & Mary

Navy also swept the individual event titles. On floor, Ian Dinmore hit a season-high 13.55 to claim the title, sticking his whipback to back 2.5 opening pass and taking a small step on his triple-full dismount. Navy’s Connor Van Loo and Matthew Rosendahl rounded out the podium with respective scores of 13.3 and 13.2. 

Ronan McQuillan was best on horse by more than a point with his 13.9 and a routine featuring clean scissor work, a D flop, E flop, Roth, and C-value handstand dismount. The Mids’ Danilo Viciana tied for second with William & Mary’s Christian Marsh, who scored a 12.8. The Tribe’s Sam Smith and Aidan Cuy finished fourth and fifth, respectively, on the event. 

Navy’s Erik Engelke took first on rings after sticking his 1.5-twisting double back dismount to score a 13.1. Viciana was close behind in second with a 13.05, and Mids sophomore Sabastian Gordon was third with a 12.7. 

Van Loo and Isaiah Drake stuck their vaults to lead the Mids to their season-best vault effort. Van Loo stuck his Yurchenko double full with ease to score a 14.7, while Drake stuck his Kas 1.5 to go 14.65. (You can hear the man behind Navy’s vault videos here predicting both Van Loo’s and Drake’s sticks.) Matthew Petros took third with a 14.2. 

Drake finished on top of the parallel bars podium, earning a 13.95 after performing a free-hip mount, whip it, peach handstand, and nearly sticking his double pike. The Tribe’s Cuy was second with a 13.8, and Petros was third with his 13.45. 

Navy tied its season-best score on high bar (64.7) after Petros and Giovanni Gambatese turned in strong sets. Petros caught his layout and straddle Tkatchevs and stuck his full-twisting double layout dismount to take the title with a 13.6. William & Mary’s Ricky Pizem finished in third, scoring a 12.95.  

Penn State defeats William & Mary at home 

The Nittany Lions secured a 15-point win over the Tribe on Friday while missing some routines from gymnasts who competed at the previous weekend’s Winter Cup. Penn State’s hit percentage was around 86%, head coach Randy Jepson told Penn State athletics, and the team swept the individual event titles. 

William & Mary set a more than five-point season high on Friday, scoring into the mid-380s for the first time this season. 

Matthew Underhill was a double event winner, topping the podium on rings and vault with scores of 13.8 and 14.4, respectively. Josh Karnes extended his strong run on parallel bars by taking the title with a 14.3, followed closely by Ethan Dick, who finished second with a 14.2. 

Will Fleck won floor with a season-best 13.8, and Dick took the pommel title with a score of 13.8. 

Ian Raubal finished at the top of an all-Penn State high bar podium after scoring a 13.9. Michael Artlip was second with a 13.35, and Fleck finished third with a 13.15. 

The Tribe’s Will Harrington was the team’s best individual finisher, placing second on floor with a score of 13.55. Christian Marsh finished in the top 5 on floor, rings, and parallel bars. 

Mark Fu was just outside the vault podium, finishing fourth with a score of 14.0, while Alek Kuzmenchuk hit a season-high score on high bar to tie teammate Evan Sikra for fourth with a 12.7. 

Around the country

Brody Malone was back in action for Stanford on Saturday, competing on horse, vault, parallel bars, high bar, and winning rings. His return helped lead the Cardinal to a more than 10-point victory over Illinois, even while Stanford counted a season-low high bar total. Cal placed third with a 386.25.

Brody Malone (Stanford) – SR vs. Illinois, Cal

Stanford’s Khoi Young hit his best horse set of the season, earning a 14.65 after performing a scissor handstand, Busnari, two E flops, a forward travel over both pommels, Wu, Roth, and fluid handstand dismount for a 6.4-difficulty score. 

Jeremy Bischoff and Asher Hong finished second and third, respectively, on floor, and Malone won rings with a 14.6 with a clean set and small hop on his double-double dismount. Mark Berlaga and Hong rounded out the rings podium with scores of 14.55 and 14.4, respectively.

Brandon Briones was the best Cardinal vaulter, tying for second with a stuck Kas 1.5 that scored a 14.75. On parallel bars, Bischoff finished second with a routine that included a free-hip mount, whip it, Makutz, giant to back-half straight to straddle front one-and-a-quarter, healy, and a stuck double front half-out dismount. Malone was third on parallel bars with a 14.1. 

Stanford counted four scores below 13 on high bar, but Ian Lasic-Ellis claimed the event title. Lasic-Ellis caught his Kolman and layout Tkatchev, connected his straddle and pike Tkatchevs, and stuck his layout double-double dismount to score a 13.5. 

Illinois’ Connor McCool and David Pochinka earned individual titles, and the Illini had the best vault and high bar team scores of the competition after a rough first rotation on rings. McCool’s winning floor routine featured a clean triple-connection pass, Randi, back 3.5, and stuck triple-full dismount. He scored a 14.5 for the win. 

Pochinka was best on parallel bars by a three-tenth margin, moving confidently through a whip it, healy, peach half, and taking a small hop forward on his double-front to score a 14.6. Will Hauke finished fourth on parallel bars after performing a peach half, peach handstand, Bhavsar, Tippelt, and double pike dismount. 

Pochinka also tied teammates Kyle Mayotte and Ryan Vanichtheeranont for the runner-up spot on high bar, with each scoring 13.4. 

Ian Skirkey, the top horse finisher at Winter Cup, secured a second-place finish on pommel with a score of 14.45 after counting a minor mistake on his Sohn that lowered his difficulty score but finishing his set well. 

Evan Manivong led Illinois to its second-best vault total of the year, taking a tiny hop forward on his Kas 1.5 to score a 14.75 and tie for second. Michael Fletcher was right behind with a stuck Kas 1.5 that scored a 14.7, and Amari Sewell was sixth after landing a floaty Kas 1.5 that netted him a 14.45. 

Cal’s Jasper Smith-Gordon planted a gorgeous Kas double full on vault to claim the event title with a 14.85 and set a new school record — breaking the one that Khalen Curry set just a couple weeks earlier. 

The Bears posted a new season-high on pommel horse, led by Aidan Li, whose 14.0 was good for a third-place finish. Li performed an E flop, D flop, Wu, triple Russian, and swing handstand dismount.

Cal also recorded its second-best floor score of the year, with Theodor Gadderud, Tyler Shimizu, and Khalen Curry turning in strong hits.