Men’s NCAA championships weekend kicks off this afternoon with semifinal one in Champaign, Illinois. This session features No. 2 Stanford, No. 3 Michigan, No. 6 Minnesota, No. 7 Nebraska, No. 10 Navy, No. 11 California and individuals from Air Force and Springfield.
Stanford, Michigan and Minnesota are the favorites to advance, but with the parody we’ve seen this season—anything is possible.
The favorite to win this session is Stanford, who finished less than three points behind Oklahoma at their conference meet a few weeks ago and is the only team other than the Sooners to have been ranked No. 1 in 2019. Freshman Brody Malone has had a stellar freshman season for the Cardinal and will be relied upon heavily this weekend to lead Stanford. Senior Grant Breckenridge has been overshadowed a bit by Malone, but the star who was supposed to step into the spotlight that Robert Neff left vacated will also need to have a huge weekend if Stanford wants any chance at claiming the team title.
Michigan was the Big Ten frontrunner for most of the season but has been in a bit of a slump lately—losing to Nebraska and giving up their chance at the outright Big Ten regular season title and also only managing a third place finish at the Big Ten championships. Superstar sophomore all arounder Cameron Bock will be the one the Wolverines need to turn to in order to end the slump while key players Jacob Moore, Emyre Cole and Anthony McCallum will also need to hit their specialty events if Michigan wants to make finals and contend for a spot on the podium.
Last year’s NCAA runner-up Minnesota is ranked nearly two points higher than top challenger Nebraska in NQA, average score and high score, but fell to the Huskers by that margin just two weeks ago at Big Tens. Minnesota’s Shane Wiskus and Nebraska’s Anton Stephenson are the rock-solid stars for these two teams, but the test for each squad will be how their supporting casts of gymnasts will handle the pressure. The team that is hitting their routines will be the team that advances.
While a bit less likely to advance as a team, Navy and California both have plenty of individuals who will challenge for individual podium finishes. For California, senior Aaron Mah will be a major player on both floor and high bar in his final NCAA championships while freshman Darren Wong could sneak into finals on any event if he somehow doesn’t advance as an all arounder. Navy’s ECAC champions, David Toussaint on pommel horse, Lucas Beltran on vault and Ben Provost on high bar, will all be factors on their signature events.
Also keep an eye out for some of the individuals competing here. Lukas Texeira of Air Force should not only make finals on high bar but could win the title on Saturday. Springfield has two gymnasts, Jannik Haas and Stephen Lewis, who will both challenge for finals on parallel bars while Lewis could also potentially make it in the all around.
The teams will rotate in Olympic order with Nebraska starting on floor, Michigan starting on pommel horse, California starting on rings, Navy starting on vault, Stanford starting on parallel bars and Minnesota starting on high bar. The top three teams, as well as the top three all arounders and event finishers on non-advancing teams will all qualify for tomorrow’s finals.
Rotation One: Nebraska – Floor, Michigan – Pommel Horse, California – Rings, Navy – Vault, Stanford – Parallel Bars, Minnesota – High Bar
Lewis (Springfield): opens with a stuck front double half, nice double layout second pass, double front side pass also stuck, moves cleanly through a handstand, rudi side pass just a small hop, 1.5 to front full done well, layout full side pass, dismounts with a double arabian that he barely even had to run into! Just a small hop back. Good start for Lewis
Harris (Minn): opens with a yamawaki just a little leg break, great Kovacs, much better than the ones he warmed up, hits his handstands in his pirouettes, nice handstand out of a jam, dismounts with a full twisting double layout and a stick! 13.400
Giles (Neb): tucked front full to double full and a hop forward, stuck front 2.5, full twisting double tuck and a small hop, 2.5 to front layout half with tiny slide on the landing, 1.5 to front layout full and a small hop, triple full dismount with another small hop. Hit his routine but gave up a few tenths on the landing. 13.433
Wong (Cal): nice straddle planche to start, good tucked to piked yamawakis, a little struggle in the press to handstand, picks up a little swing too, dismounts with a double tuck 1.5 and a step back. 13.066
Lasker (Mich): nice scissor work to start, moves cleanly into his swinging skills, small form break with the legs then comes off the horse, remounts and repeats the skill but has another small form break, finishes smoothly and hits his dismount. 12.433
Phillips (Stan): small break on the whippet to open, nice healy, big break on a peach full, nice diamidov half to diamidov, double pike dismount, kicked out early and put his hands down. 11.833
Bradley (Navy): kas double just a small hop back, lowish chest on landing. 14.166
Bock (Mich): caught the end of his routine, the first routine without a fall for Michigan. 13.466
Bonnay (Neb): opens with a sky high full twisting double tuck, stuck 2.5 to rudi, tucked front full to double full, tiny adjustment on the landing, smooth press handstand, 1.5 to front layout full stuck, stuck double full side pass, dismounts with a triple full, big hop on the landing. 14.033
Sheppard (Stan): nice whippet to start, immediately off on what looked like a peach half, repeats it well, nice release, great healy, good diamidov, dismounts with a double pike and a small hop. 11.466
Falls from Minnesota on high bar and Navy on vault during that parallel bars routine as well.
Stephenson (Neb): mounts with a 2.5 to rudi, stuck but close to oob, whip half to double full small hop, double double lands just inside the boundary but he sticks it so no worries, front full to stuck layout half, side pass double full, stuck of course, dismounts with a triple full, stuck! 14.400
Beltran (Navy): falls on a double front. 13.333
Breckenridge (Stan): nice peach, good whippet, beautiful healy, diamidov just a tad short of handstand, dismounts with a double pike and a step back. 13.766
McVay (Navy): Kas full with a small hop back. 13.233
Sun (Stan): he NEEDS to hit this for Stanford, mounts into a whippet, healy and almost clips the bar but makes it, nice peach, clean release, great diamidov, double pike dismount, tiny hop. 14.400
Overall not a great first rotation. Every team had at least one fall except for Nebraska, who really capitalized on starting on floor. But still, no team hit the 70 mark in that rotation, and Minnesota was only a few points from not breaking 60. With that start for Minnesota, if Nebraska can keep its momentum going it has a great shot at finishing top three and qualifying for team finals.
After One: Nebraska – 69.732, Navy – 68.331, Stanford – 65.531, California – 64.798, Michigan – 64.531, Minnesota – 62.733
Rotation Two: Minnesota – Floor, Nebraska – Pommel Horse, Michigan – Rings, California – Vault, Navy – Parallel Bars, Stanford – High Bar
Valentin (Air Force): on floor, opens with a nearly stuck full twisting double tuck, front double full tiny hop, split to press handstand done smoothly, rudi small slide back, 1.5 to tucked front full, another hop, stuck double full, dismounts with a nearly stuck 2.5.
Wang (Cal): tsuk full just a small hop. 14.066
McCallum (Mich): back uprise to maltese done well, nice straddle planche, a bit wobbly in the handstand, good tucked and piked yamawakis, great last handstand, dismounts with a full twisting double layout with the tiniest adjustment. 13.666
Jessen (Stan): nice endo full, great position in another endo, nice full twisting Kovacs, beautiful stalder and stadler tkatchev, dismounts with a stuck full twisting double layout.
Tyndall (Neb): opens with some solid scissor work, moves quickly into swinging elements, a bit of form in the press to handstand dismount, a very short routine. 12.466
Sadighi (Cal): tsuk full just a small hop back.
Sheppard (Stan): great Kovacs, tkatchev done well, a little flat, hits the handstand out of a jam, sticks his full twisting double layout dismount.
Jackson (Neb): confident scissor work to open, a bit of piking in his swinging skills, great press to handstand and pirouetting dismount.
Orce (Navy): slightly short on a peach, smooth healy, hits the handstand on the diamidov, dismounts with a double pike, almost stuck. 13.666
Herzog (Minn): double double just a bit low and a hop forward, stick a 2.5 to front full, double full to layout half stuck, split to press handstand slow and controlled, side pass is a 1.5 to punch layout, also stuck, stick a double full, dismounts with a triple full just a bit short and a hop forward.
Wong (Cal): stuck yurchenko double, but over the OOB line.
McVay (Navy): nice peach and release, a tad short of vertical in the diamidov, double pike dismount and a lunge forward. 12.800
Wiskus (Minn): front full to double front tiny hop, double double just a step back, 2.5 to tucked full stuck, split to handstand done well, 1.5 to rudi just a small slide, triple full dismount, low chest causes a hop forward. 13.966
Bock (Mich): nice maltese, moves cleanly into a planche, and good straddle planche, beautiful position in the tucked and piked yamawakis, controlled press to handstand, dismounts with a stuck double double, chest very low on landing though. 14.066
Barrus (Stan): nice yamawaki, tak half done perfectly, great kovacs, falls on the kovacs with a full twist, came off crooked and stays down, being attended to by the coaches and trainers. Gets up and re-chalks to finish. great tkatchev to geinger, nice weiler kip, dismounts with a stuck full twisting double layout. Great to see him get back up and finish strong! 12.700
Stephenson (Neb): scissor work to start, quite piked in his swinging skills, tiny form break right towards the end but presses smoothly into the handstand dismount.
A much better rotation, but still quite a few falls. Nebraska won’t be happy with a subpar pommel horse rotation but it definitely didn’t take them out of the mix. Minnesota bounced back strong on floor, but a few hoppy routines keeps the floor total just under a tenth lower than Nebraska’s. Even with Barrus’ scary fall, Stanford rebounded well on high bar pulled in a decent score. California definitely capitalized on vault with clean vaults and few landing deductions. Navy suffered from a few falls on parallel bars and will likely be out of a shot at making finals already.
Rotation Two: Minnesota – 69.665, Nebraska – 63.565, Michigan – 69.497, California – 70.265, Navy – 63.965, Stanford – 66.298
After Two: California – 135.063, Michigan – 134.028, Nebraska – 133.297, Minnesota – 132.398, Navy – 132, 296, Stanford – 131.929
Rotation Three: Stanford – Floor, Minnesota – Pommel Horse, Nebraska – Rings, Michigan – Vault, California – Parallel Bars, Navy – High Bar
Texeira (Air Force): on high bar, yamawaki to geinger caught a little close, great layout tkatchev to straddle tkatchev half, nice jam to handstand, missed vertical on the tak half, full twisting double layout dismount will a hop forward.
Lamberton (Springfield): on vault, kas full, small hop sideways.
Lewis (Stan): opens with a front layout to front double pike, small hop, 1.5 twisting double back just a hop forward, front double full to front full stuck, stuck double full side pass, great Japanese handstand, 1.5 to layout full hop forward, dismounts with a stuck 2.5.
Penev (Mich): yurchenko double, great form and stuck!
Scores are taking forever to start this rotation…
Wang (Cal): opens with a peach, just short of handstand, has to work to handstand, great diamidov, stutz done well, double pike dismount just a hop forward.
Pochinka (Minn): quick scissors into swinging elements, misses a hand and spins off onto his back, remounts and regains composure quickly, great dismount.
Moore (Mich): Kas double just a small hop forward.
Perla (Stan): mounts with a double double and a sizeable hop back, front double full to tucked full tiny hop, nice 2.5 to rudi, stuck, nice handstand work, 1.5 to layout full, small hop to the side, stuck double full side pass, dismounts with a triple full, fought for the stick but has to step back.
Everitt (Neb): smooth front uprise to Maltese, nice straddle planche, solid handstand, a bit labored through the tucked yamawaki, slow press to handstand, dismounts with a stuck full twisting double tuck.
Gerber (Navy): opens with a yamawaki, caught great, layout tkatchev, tiny pike in the hips, gigantic tkatchev to tkatchev half, misses handstand on a stalder, nice endo full, endo, dismounts with a piked full twisting double layout, but stuck!
Navy is killing it on bars right now according to the fans in front of me!
Crigger (Cal): nice peach, some hand movements after a pirouette, double pike dismount with a slide back.
McCallum (Mich): comes in short on the tsuk double pike and puts his hands down. 14.700
Wiskus (Minn): great line in his swings, loses toe point occasionally, moving through quickly, a bit of knee bend in the final few elements but dismounts cleanly.
Provost (Navy): yamawaki to geinger done amazing, straddle tkatchev, nice lines in his pirouetting skills, dismounts with a full twisting double layout, small step back.
Cole (Mich): yurchenko 2.5, just a cross-step back to the side.
Bock (Mich): tsuk 1.5, clean in the air just a hop sideways and a deep squat.
Karstadt (Minn): beautiful scissors, nice and controlled swinging elements, no form breaks at all, great press into the handstand and dismounts for another hit routine!
Mah (Cal): mounts into an L-sit, presses to handstand nicely, a bit of knees bent on the handstand after a peach, stutz and a few hand movements, double front dismount, big squat and hop forward.
Michigan is quietly cruising and killing it! Not doing anything spectacular just hitting clean routines, and it’s working. Stanford hits the 70 mark on floor and has returned to form for the most part. Navy had a good high bar rotation with some stellar routines. Nebraska did its job on rings and Minnesota continued to falter a bit on pommel horse. California also had a bit of a miss of a rotation on parallel bars and lost some of the momentum it had after leading through two rotations. The big story to watch is Minnesota following Nebraska on each event and needing to not only match what the Huskers did, but beat it significantly.
Rotation Three: Stanford – 70.398, Minnesota – 62.032, Nebraska – 67.265, Michigan – 71.766, California – 64.033, Navy – 65.199
After Three: Michigan – 205.794, Stanford – 202.327, Nebraska – 200.562, California – 199.096, Navy – 197.495, Minnesota – 194.430
Rotation Four: Navy – Floor, Stanford – Pommel Horse, Minnesota – Rings, Nebraska – Vault, Michigan – Parallel Bars, California – High Bar
Lewis (Springfield): on vault, tsuk full, stuck!
Bitner (Stan): nice scissors and handstand work, a bit of hesitation in the handstands, moves to his swings and comes off, remounts and works smoothly into the dismount.
Herzog (Minn): nice straddle planche, great position, clean yamawakis, dismounts with a 1.5 twisting double tuck, chest way forward and puts his hands down.
Moore (Mich): good peach, solid release, good healy, a tad short of handstand in the diamidov, same with the stutz, double pike dismount, tiny hop.
Giles (Neb): yurchenko 2.5 just a small step forward.
Pochinka (Minn): legs a bit low in the straddle planche, picks up some swing as well, good front giants, clean piked to tucked yamawakis, dismounts with a double double, chest low and a step forward.
Peters (Neb): tsuk 1.5, clean in the air just a hop forward.
Wong (Cal): yamawaki, layout tkatchev, straddle tkatchev, hitting all his handstands, bends his knees in a giant and layout dismounts, his grip broke!
Jessen (Stan): quick single scissor to swings, nice one-armed work, good handstand pirouetting, tiny hitch on the way back down, great dismount.
McCallum (Mich): tiny bit short on a peach, nice release, good Bhavsar, nice tippelt, almost off on a stutz but covers well, double pike dismount, flat and short and hands go down. 12.600
Rickard (Cal): yamawaki to giant done well, misses handstand on a stadler, good tkatchev into tkatchev half, nice one-armed giant, full twisting double layout dismount, stuck with some arm waving. 13.166
Wiskus (Minn): nice front uprise to maltese, good straddle planche, moves to L-sit and picks up some swing, even more swing now after yamawakis, double double dismount, chest forward and a hop to follow. 13.466
Stephenson (Neb): yurchenko 2.5, beautiful in the air, stuck!
Bock (Mich): whippet done well, nice peach, great dalton, beautiful stutz, straddle release was super high, bhavsar, quickly up to handstand in the tippelt, a bit of bent knees in the double pike dismount and a small hop.
Mah (Cal): yamawaki, great tak full, hits handstand in tak half too, nice hop full, hitting all his handstands, stuck full twisting double layout.
Wong (Cal): redoing his routine after his grip broke, very close on the yamawaki, causes a labored giant, nearly clips toes on layout tkatchev but manages, nice handstand out of a jam, dismounts with a stuck full twisting double layout. 12.800
Navy went crazy with the OOB’s on floor. Nebraska is smooth sailing at this point. As long as they avoid fall’s, the Huskers should be through. Stanford’s third place currently but will end on vault and get a score boost. California struggled a bit on high bar but managed. Michigan just needs to stay steady and its fate is the same as Nebraska’s. Minnesota needs to be amazing on vault and parallel bars for any shot at a comeback and finals appearance.
Rotation Four: Navy – 68.065, Stanford – 64.365, Minnesota – 66.799, Nebraska – 72.365, Michigan – 65.032, California – 63.599
After Four: Nebraska – 272.927, Michigan – 270.826, Stanford – 266.692, Navy – 265.560, California – 262.695, Minnesota – 261.229
Rotation Five: California – Floor, Navy – Pommel Horse, Stanford – Rings, Minnesota – Vault, Nebraska – Parallel Bars, Michigan – High Bar
Esval (Air Force): on rings, nice straight body planche, struggles some in the rise to maltese, nice yamawakis, sticks the full twisting double tuck dismount.
Lamberton (Springfield): on high bar, yamawaki, bent arms in the giant, nice tkatchev, bent legs in the giant after, great weiler kip, full twisting double tuck dismount and a hop forward.
Wang (Cal): mounts with a double arabian with a hop forward, front double full to layout half, chest way down and hops, 1.5 to front full, rudi and wild on the landing, chest down and several hops, double full side pass, stuck, 2.5 dismount with a lunge sideways.
King (Neb): great healy, nice peach and stutz, dismounts with a double pike, steps back.
McVay (Navy): good scissor work and cleanly into swinging, traveling well, small pause in the press to handstand but hit the routine.
Stretch (Mich): layout tkatcehv, tiny bit of pike in the hips, good tkatchev half, hits handstand out of jam, nice endo work, full twisting double layout dismount, sqauts and hops forward.
Lee (Stan): nice planche through to L-sit, picks up some swing into a straddle planche, good tucked yamawaki, easily up to handstand, good line in the giant swings, full twisting double layout dismount, squats and a step forward.
Kasiski (Minn): not originally in the lineup, they NEED a BIG vault from him, falls on a double front.
Mah (Cal): nearly stuck front double pike, front 2.5 and a shuffle on the landing, stuck front double full, nice swings and split to handstand, hops on double full side pass, ends with a 2.5 twist with a small hop forward.
Karstadt (Minn): yurchenko double, comes in short and takes a big lunge forward.
Eng (Stan): nice front uprise to handstand, steady in his cross and into maltese, great maltese and planche, stuck double layout dismount, chest slightly low.
Wiskus (Minn): lands his tsuk 1.5 OOB and lunges sideways.
Bock (Mich): nice tak half, great kovacs, nice tkatchev, tkatchev half also good, hits jam, dismounts with a STUCK double twisting double layout.
Rotation Five: California – 66.831, Navy – 61.264, Stanford – 69.465, Minnesota – 68.799, Nebraska – 65.265, Michigan – 66.131
After Five: Nebraska – 338.192, Michigan – 336.957, Stanford – 336.157, Minnesota – 330.028, California – 329.526, Navy – 326.824
Unless catastrophe strikes, the top three teams currently should be the three qualifiers. Minnesota’s high bar rotation to start just killed its momentum and it has not been able to regain any of it. Stanford has been a bit off today, but that rings rotation was great and the Cardinal looked more normal. With a big vault rotation, Stanford may still be able to come out on top if Michigan can’t get floor landings and Nebraska suffers from low-scoring high bar. Navy and California will both look to finish strong, and with California finishing on pommel horse, Navy will have a chance to catch them on rings.
Rotation Six: Michigan – Floor, California – Pommel Horse, Navy – Rings, Stanford – Vault, Minnesota – Parallel Bars, Nebraska – High Bar
Phillips (Stan): yurchenko double, chest a little low on the landing and a hop forward. 13.966
Guy (Mich): front double pike and a hop forward, double double just a hop in place, 1.5 to stuck front full, 2.5 to front layout, tiny adjustment, double full side pass, dismounts with a triple full and a step back.
Breckenridge (Stan): yurchenko double, stuck but one foot over the OOB line.
Penev (Mich): stuck front double full to layout, stuck double double, 2.5 to front full small slide, stuck double full side pass, 1.5 to rudi small hop, triple full dismount just a step back.
Wong (Cal): nice scissor to handstand and back down, swinging well, misses a hand and falls onto the horse, remounts, repeats the skill cleanly, dismounts strong.
Moore (Mich): front full to double full, double double, hop back, 2.5 to stuck layout half, stuck full twisting double layout, super controlled handstand, double full stuck, triple full dismount, small hop. 14.300
Lewis (Stan): tsuk 1.5, hop forward and OOB. 14.300
Cole (Mich): opens with a sky high and stuck double double, front double full to layout full, the smallest of foot shuffles, stuck double full side pass, 2.5 to layout half, stuck, 1.5 to rudi, stuck but chest low, full twisting double tuck dismount, small step back.
Perla (Stan): tsuk 1.5, almost stuck just a small hop. 14.466
Correale (Navy): nice giant, nice front giant, well controlled, good piked yamawaki, small swing in the planche, dismounts with a stuck full twisting double tuck. 13.333
Kehler (Neb): yamawaki, one-armed giant, good layout tkatchev, straddle tkatchev, straddle tkatchev half, dismounts with a stuck full twisting double layout. 13.433
Wiskus (Minn): good whippet, nice healy, peach, nearly misses a hand on bhavsar but still very nice, good tippelt, good diamidov, dismounts double pike, step back.
Bonnay (Neb): yamawaki to geinger, beautiful, stalder to tkatchev, great height, nice stalder work, full twisting double layout dismount, small hop.
Rotation Six: Michigan – 71.432, California – 61.333, Navy – 66.299, Stanford – 71.431, Minnesota – 66.031, Nebraska – 67.531
Final Standings: Michigan – 408.389, Stanford – 407.588, Nebraska – 405.723, Minnesota – 396.059, Navy – 393.123, California – 390.859
Some upsets here in Session I! Michigan was seeded just behind Stanford but had a clean and consistent day to take the top spot. Stanford performed well too, and certainly looks like there’s gas left in the tank for tomorrow night. Nebraska had a great performance and is rewarded with a team birth into tomorrow’s finals after hanging with the higher seeded Wolverines and Cardinal until the very end. Minnesota ultimately lost out thanks to falls across the board. As I said earlier, the misses on high bar ruined any chance of gaining momentum from the start and the Huskers were more than ready to capitalize on that. Navy and California did their jobs today. They were both pretty outmatched to begin with, but should still advance some individuals to tomorrow’s finals.
I’ll post tomorrow’s qualifiers below shortly.
Michigan, Stanford, Nebraska
Wisksus (Minn), Wong (Cal), Mah (Cal)
Herzog (Minn), Toussaint (Navy), Kan (Minn)
Karstadt (Minn), Clark (Navy), McMurray (Air Force)
Karstadt (Minn), Esval (Air Force), Johnson (Minn)
Eyles (Minn), Lewis (Springfield), Valentin (Air Force)
Orce (Navy), Pochinka (Minn), Esval (Air Force)
Texiera (Air Force), McVay (Navy), Harris (Minn)
Live Blog by Brandis Heffner
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