It’s time for semifinal two of the NCAA championships! This session features No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 4 Illinois, No. 5 Penn State, No. 8 Iowa, No. 9 Ohio State, No. 12 Army and individuals from UIC and William & Mary.
The earlier session saw Michigan, Stanford, and Nebraska advance to tomorrow’s finals. Check out the Session One live blog for the scoop on what happened this afternoon.
Oklahoma enters as the favorite to win its fifth-consecutive NCAA team title and go undefeated for the fourth-straight season. Much of the Sooners’ success can be attributed to senior Yul Moldauer, the heavy favorite for the all around title and one that could possibly finish on the podium on all six events. With his seven individual NCAA titles, Moldauer already holds the record for the most in a career. However, Oklahoma’s success isn’t contingent on Moldauer. If he’s having an off day, nearly any of the Sooner gymnasts could step in and help win the program another national title. Also keep an eye on Levi Anderson, Genki Suzuki and Gage Dyer, who could all contend for several event titles.
After an inconsistent season, Illinois was able to pull it together a few weeks ago and finish as the runner-up at the Big Ten championships. The Illini have fallen victim to a handful of upsets this season but also pulled one of their own with their upset over Stanford early last month. That meet in particular showed what Illinois is capable of when not just senior Alex Diab is pulling in huge scores. Johnny Jacobson and Michael Fletcher have been key for Illinois in the all around this season and will need big performances in this session to ensure the Illini don’t falter again while Michael Paradise will need to hit a crucial pommel horse routine on the event on which he could contend for a national title.
Penn State had a season similar to that of Illinois. The Nittany Lions started the season strong, slumped slightly in the middle but finishing strong and winning the Big Ten championship. Stephen Nedoroscik will be aiming to win his third-straight NCAA pommel horse title, and Penn State will need his huge numbers to ensure its spot in tomorrow’s finals. Sam Zakutney is also a strong all arounder for the Nittany Lions and will need to put his inconsistency issues behind him if Penn State wants to have a shot at a podium finish.
With no “superstars” on the roster, Iowa will need a complete team effort if it wants to advance to its first NCAA finals since 2015. That game has worked for the Hawkeyes this season, as they pulled off enough upsets to claim a share of the Big Ten regular season title. Ohio State does have a superstar in Alec Yoder, but the Buckeyes will need other gymnasts to step up if they want to make it to Saturday as a team. Army will likely not challenge for a spot in tomorrow’s finals, but Cole Casanova and Matt Davis both have the potential to make it on several events if not as all arounders.
Of the individual qualifiers, keep an eye out for William & Mary’s Jacopo Gliozzi and David Watkins. On rings, Watkins could sneak into finals if he hits his routine while Gliozzi tied Nedoroscik for the nation’s highest score on pommel horse this season. UIC will also have two gymnasts, Kaleb Booth and Sam Montague, competing in this session. Be sure to check out their routines as they will be the last routines for UIC as an NCAA program.
The teams will rotate in Olympic order with Oklahoma starting on floor, Army starting on pommel horse, Ohio State starting on rings, Penn State starting on vault, Illinois starting on parallel bars, and Iowa 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 session.
Rotation One: Oklahoma – Floor, Army – Pommel Horse, Ohio State – Rings, Penn State – Vault, Illinois – Parallel Bars, Iowa – High Bar
According to the start list, Yul Moldauer will only be competing on pommel horse, rings, and parallel bars for Oklahoma. I did watch him warm up all six events though, likely just resting for tomorrow.
Montague (UIC): on floor, opens with a stuck front double full to layout half, falls on a double double, nice double arabian, solid split into press handstand, dismounts with a back 2.5 and a small hop back.
Huang (Iowa): yamawaki, nice stalders, hits handstand out of a jam, great endo and endo half, full twisting double layout just a small step back. 13.100
Anderson (OU): mounts with a stuck front double full to front layout, double double and a slide back, 2.5 to layout half, stuck, side pass double full, stuck again, 1.5 to front full and another stick, dismounts with a full-in and a tiny slide back. 14.233
Tyndall (PSU): tsuk double, some leg form in the air, just a hop on the landing.
Davis (Iowa): nice yamawaki, nice pirouetting work, a bit short of handstand on a jam, stick his full twisting double layout dismount.
Neighbarger (OSU): nice maltese, swings through cleanly to a straddle planche, a bit of flexed feet in tucked yamawaki, full-in dismount, small hop.
Justus (OU): mounts with a front double full to front layout, stuck, double double small hop, 2.5 to stuck front layout half, double full side pass, also stuck, 1.5 to front layout full, small hop and knee bend, triple full dismount, big squat but steps forward to stay on his feet.
Borromeo (PSU): tsuk double, just step back.
Casanova (Army): two scissors then into swings, good one armed work, small form breaks and knee bends, traveling well, dismounts, hit routine for Army.
Carter (Ill): misses hands on bar before whippet but stays on, small hand adjustments, nice peach, good stutz, presses cleanly to handstand, double pike dismount just a small hop.
Dyer (OU): front double pike, hop forward, double double layout, great height just a hop, front double full to layout full, small hop again, stick whip to double full, 2.5 to layout half, tiny adjustment of the feet, dismounts with a full-in, almost stuck but slides back after fighting. 14.433
Zakutney (PSU): double front, STUCK! 14.733
Jacobson (Ill): misses hand on whippet, a bad trend for the Illini here, nice diamidov, good release, nice tippelt, a bit quick moving out of a stutz, double pike dismount, under-rotated and forward rolls out of it. 11.366
Scott (Army): nice swinging to start, travels quickly across the horse, a bit of flexed feet throughout, hits on a scissor, pauses and then hops off, remounts and dismounts cleanly. 11.066
Fletcher (Ill): sloppy diamidov, loses legs but hangs on, nice bhavsar, strong tippelt, stuck double pike dismount, the crowd loves it. 13.333
Davis (Army): a little choppy in the scissor work, much cleaner in the swinging skills, presses up to handstand easily for the dismount.
After One: Oklahoma – 70.399, Penn State – 69.332, Ohio State – 67.364, Iowa – 65.865, Illinois – 64.698, Army – 57.764
Oklahoma started strong on floor, but that’s a surprise to no one. Penn State capped off vault with Zakutney’s amazing stick, but overall could’ve gotten more out of landings. Ohio State and Iowa both got off to good starts on their events, with five up and five hits each. Army had a bit of a disaster on pommel horse and managed only one score above a 12. The Black Knights had an uphill battle to begin with and they likely dug too far into a hole now to climb out of. Illinois also had a rough start with several big mistakes. The Illini will be getting their two weakest events out of the way first, however, so look for them to storm back at the end. The Illinois home crowd will certainly help that too.
Rotation Two: Iowa – Floor, Oklahoma – Pommel Horse, Army – Rings, Ohio State – Vault, Penn State – Parallel Bars, Illinois – High Bar
Lyubovsky (W&M): on high bar, great yamawaki, layout full twisting kovacs, catches way too close but hangs on, full twisting kovacs and kovacs done much better, good hop 1.5, dismounts with a full twisting double layout for a stick.
Anderson (OU): nice scissors smoothly into swinging, a tad piked in the hips, moving through well, travels and has a small form break but an overall hit. 13.100
Roettker (OSU): yurchenko double, chest down and a hop forward on landing. 13.966
Pantazis (PSU): good giant and release, tiny leg separation in stutz, another clean release, double pike dismount, hop forward.
Taylor (Iowa): great half-in half-out, nice handstand, 1.5 to front full hop, great double full into stuck tucked front full, stuck double full side pass, dismounts with a triple full, almost stuck.
Burns (PSU): nice whippet to open, good diamidov, high release, good tippelt, super quick to handstand, good stutz, double pike dismount, small squat and hop.
Neighbarger (OSU): yurchenko 2.5, good form just a shuffle forward.
Quiana (Ill): opens with a layout full twisting kovacs done beautifully, and the same with the tucked version, great layout tkatchev, tkatchev half, nice one-armed giant, dismounts with a full twisting double layout, nearly stuck but steps back at the last second.
Casanova (Army): nice planche through to L-hold, good tucked and piked yamawakis to a straddle planche, solid front giant, stuck double double dismount.
Huang (Iowa): full twisting double layout mount, hops back significantly, front full to double full, small hop, 2.5 to stuck layout half, double full to punch front to stomach, dismounts triple full, steps back.
Bonnano (OSU): double front, small hop forward.
Moldauer (OU): great scissors, amazing flair work, just a tad flexed feet, great swing, traveling well, quick press to handstand and pirouettes for the dismount.
Carter (Ill): yamawaki, great giant out, tkatchev, layout tkatchev to straddle tkatchev half, hitting all his handstands, beautiful stadler and hop full, dismounts full twisting double layout, slides back on the landing.
Rotation Two: Iowa – 67.865, Oklahoma – 67.699, Army – 67.065, Ohio State – 70.864, Penn State – 66.264, Illinois – 68.133
After Two: Ohio State – 138.328, Oklahoma 138.098, Penn State – 135.596, Iowa – 133.730, Illinois – 132.831, Army – 124.829
Illinois made me eat my words with that high bar rotation. That certainly wasn’t a “weak event” performance. The home crowd was loving it and the Illini gymnasts fed off that great energy. Oklahoma is Sooner-ing (hitting all their routines), and Ohio State has been pretty steady thus far. Penn State had a few minor mistakes on parallel bars but nothing to be worried about. Army had a much better rotation on still rings, but will need to be flawless from here on out and hope for others to falter majorly. Iowa had an alright rotation on floor, but definitely gave points away on their landings.
Rotation Three: Illinois – Floor, Iowa – Pommel Horse, Oklahoma – Rings, Army – Vault, Ohio State – Parallel Bars, Penn State – High Bar
Booth (UIC): on floor, opens with a double double, chest a bit low, 2.5 to layout half, stuck, tucked front full to rudi, stuck, stuck double full side pass, 1.5 to front layout full, another stick, dismounts with a full-in, pretty big hop back.
Allen (W&M): yamawaki half, struggles in the giant, nice stalder, a bit of form break in a yamawaki, great jam to handstand, dismounts with a full twisting double layout, sticks it. 12.666
Herrador (Iowa): nice swinging elements to start, has a good line, quickly up to handstand and dismounts, super short routine. 12.533
Valdez (PSU): nice tkatchev, good pirouetting skills, amazing jam and hits the handstand, nice endo work, tucked double double dismount, sticks it.
Scott (Army): tsuk 1.5 with a lunge forward. 13.466
Wenske (OU): super still cross to start, nice straddle planche, held extra long, nice piked yamawaki, picks up some swing, good press to handstand and front giant, wobbles in a giant, dismounts double double and a big lunge back. 13.533
Sands (PSU): yamawaki, a little close, layout tkatchev, nearly clips toes, good straddle tkatchev and tkatchev half, weiler kip, full twisting double layout, small slide back. 13.166
Chung (Iowa): mounts into scissors, quick into swinging, good one-armed skills, hand slips and falls off the horse, remounts just to dismount.
A. Diab (Ill): mounts with a bouncy front 2.5, front double full into tucked full, close to OOB, double layout with a hop, 2.5 to a tucked front layout, smooth press handstand, side pass double full, stuck, dismounts triple full, steps back. 13.466
Davis (Army): tsuk double, super short, lunges forward, possible a knee touched the mat as well. 13.466
Daggett (OU): nice uprise to maltese, beautiful position, moving so controlled, good tucked yamawaki, straddle planche, great giants, dismounts full twisting double layout with a small squat and step. 14.600
Casanova (Army): double front, kicks out early and sits it down.
Moldauer (OU): great maltese to start, good cross too, tucked and piked yamawakis, picked up no swing, good straddle planche, some swing in the final handstand, sticks his double double. 15.033
Zakutney (PSU): nice front pirouetting, beautiful tak full, stalder, layout tkatchev half, misses a hand on the tak half, falls onto the bar but stays on, hits his final tkatchevs, dismounts with an under-rotated full twisting double layout and falls. 11.233
Yoder (OSU): good whippet to open, nice peach, beautiful diamidov, a little crooked on a diamidov half but saves it, sky high front salto, good stutz, double front half dismount, small hop back. 13.866
Rotation Three: Illinois – 68.131, Iowa – 61.799, Oklahoma – 70.898, Army – 68.631, Ohio State – 64.132, Penn State – 64.664
After Three: Oklahoma – 208.996, Ohio State – 202.460, Illinois – 200.962, Penn State – 200.260, Iowa – 195.529, Army – 193.460
Oklahoma continued its steady march to victory by going cleanly through rings. Ohio State still sits in second, despite a parallel bars dismount where somebody landed on his face (he’s ok). Illinois couldn’t stick a landing on floor and had an OOB or two but had the difficult to absorb it. Penn State is right on the Illini’s tail though, and even with a subpar high bar rotation are still right in the mix. Iowa is going for the low difficulty but high execution route tonight, but all of the Hawkeyes falls on pommel horse makes that plan not feasible and they’re likely out of contention the way the four teams ahead of them are hitting. Army yet again looked off on vault and is struggling to keep some momentum going this meet.
Rotation Four: Penn State – Floor, Illinois – Pommel Horse, Iowa – Rings, Oklahoma – Vault, Army – Parallel Bars, Ohio State – High Bar
Gliozzi (W&M): on pommel horse, mounts right into a scissor and press to handstand, moves back down quickly into swinging, good extension just some flexed feet, traveling through well, small form break towards the end of his traveling swings but hits the dismount for a good routine.
Chung (Iowa): nice straddle planche, good L-hold, super solid handstand, piked yamawakis up to another well controlled handstand, full-in dismount, stuck. 13.800
Phelps (Army): diamidov, moves quickly out of it, good L-sit, nice press up to handstand, double pike, step back. 11.966
Guimaraes (OU): beautiful yurchenko 2.5, small hop forward. 14.766
Ball (Iowa): well controlled holds to open, nice cross, his old UIC teammates are cheering loudly for him, piked yamawaki, small swing going now, nice front giants, picked up some more swing however, front rudi dismount with a small hop. 13.400
Leon (OSU): layout tkatchev half, tiny struggle through the giant, layout tkatchev nice and hight, high straddle tkatchev as well, misses handstand a bit out of a jam, nice stalder, full twisting double layout, small step, a bit piked. 12.833
Mistretta (Ill): good scissors to swinging, good line, traveling smoothly, dismounts for a big hit routine. 13.366
Tyndall (PSU): stuck double arabian, nice front double full, 2.5 to stuck layout half, his brother is about to mount high bar, good Japanese press to handstand, stuck double full, dismounts triple full, small sideways hop, his brother stuck his dismount. 14.166
Wenske (OU): tsuk 2.5, lunge forward, close to OOB, may have been over. 14.500
Yoder (OSU): yamawaki, strong giant out, stalder, good 1.5 pirouette, endo full, tak full with a great handstand, double double layout dismount with a step back. 13.266
Dyer (OU): tsuk 2.5, a little short, steps back. 14.466
Casanova (Army): nice release to open, great healy, small knee bend in the stutz, solid press to handstand, double front dismount, almost stuck but hops back. 12.900
Paradise (Ill): should be a great routine, quick scissors into some beautiful russians, has great extension throughout, traveling well, the tiniest bit of hesitation up into the handstand but a great routine. 14.833
Justus (OU): tsuk 2.5, super low and squats deep on the landing, causes a big lunge to his right. 13.933
Rotation Four: Penn State – 68.998, Illinois – 68.265, Iowa – 68.599, Oklahoma – 72.031, Army – 60.298, Ohio State – 65.365
After Four: Oklahoma – 281.027, Penn State – 269.258, Illinois – 269.227, Ohio State – 267.825, Iowa – 264.128, Army – 253.758
So unless Oklahoma implodes, the Sooners will be competing tomorrow. It was a good vault rotation, but they’re even capable of more, especially when Moldauer is in tomorrow. Penn State did its job on floor, and Paradise brought in a huge score for what was a fantastic pommel horse rotation for Illinois. Ohio State is still in contention, and now has high bar out of the way and can bring in some big scores on floor. Iowa looked much better on rings, finally getting into the groove but have a lot of ground to make up on vault. Army had some problems again on parallel bars but will get to finish on two of its better events.
Rotation Five: Ohio State – Floor, Penn State – Pommel Horse, Illinois – Rings, Iowa – Vault, Oklahoma – Parallel Bars, Army – High Bar
Portofee (W&M): on floor, opens with a stuck front double full to layout, wonky second pass and lunges off to the side, side pass rudi, small hop, dismounts with a stuck layout.
Montague (UIC): on parallel bars, peach, good release, solid press to handstand from L-sit, double pike dismount, lunges forward. 12.400
Gricar (OSU): double double well short and falls, double front, hop back, double arabian, hop forward, 2.5 to stuck layout, 1.5 to stuck front full, dismounts with a front double full, small hop in place. 12.666
Huang (Iowa): tsuk double, nearly stuck but hops forward after some arm swinging save attempts. 13.933
Daggett (OU): a bit short on the diamidov, good healy, crooked on a stutz but likely unnoticeable from the judges view, sticks the double pike dismount. 14.100
Mitchell (Army): nice tkatchev, germain giants, kips out, nice stalder, good endo, dismounts with a stuck double tuck. 11.900
Wenske (OU): great peach half, little short on a giant, good release, great stutz and diamidov, working so confidently, stuck double pike dismount. 14.200
Tyndall (OSU): mounts with a front 2.5, small hop, front double full to layout half, stuck, so close to OOB but stays in, double arabian half-out also stuck, wide-arm press handstand done well, 1.5 to layout full, jumps out to cover the stick, dismounts triple full, stuck.
Mandozzi (Iowa): yurchenko double, stuck. 14.566
Baldwin (PSU): opens with scissors, moves to swinging well, slips onto horse on a one-armed skill, comes off to re-chalk, hops back on and finishes cleanly.
Brodarzon (Iowa): yurchenko double, nearly stuck but takes the smallest of shuffles.
Scott (Army): gorgeous position in a layout tkatchev, nice tkatchev half, hits handstand in jam, nice endo, has such a beautiful line and toe point, dismounts full twisting double layout, step back. 12.600
Nedoroscik (PSU): the two time defending champ, great scissors to swinging, beautiful one-armed swings, tiniest leg separation in a circle, slow up to handstand but will be a big score. 14.500
Brown (Iowa): tsuk 2.5, went for the stick but comes in short and falls. 13.533
Moldauer (OU): good healy and peach, solid peach half, great diamidov, amazing piked release, same tucked, dismounts front double half to a stick. 14.733
A. Diab (Ill): another defending event champ in this rotation, great position in the maltese and cross, holding so steady, super clean yamawakis, into another cross, up well into handstand, still on the final giant, full twisting double layout, small hop. 14.900
Davis (Army): nice tkatchev half, high tkatchev, good stalder, endo, dismounts full twisting double layout, sticks it. 12.866
Rotation Five: Ohio State – 68.598, Penn State – 64.932, Illinois – 69.732, Iowa – 70.398, Oklahoma – 70.033, Army – 62.032
After Five: Oklahoma – 351.060, Illinois – 338.959, Ohio State – 336.423, Iowa – 334.526, Penn State – 334.190, Army – 315.790
As expected, Oklahoma took care of business on parallel bars. Penn State struggled early in its pommel horse rotation and couldn’t fully take advantage of Nedoroscik as the anchor. Illinois took full advantage of having Alex Diab as the anchor on rings and has come back up to second place and gets to finish on the high scoring vault. Ohio State did the job on floor, nothing too flashy but hit routines after the first gymnast fall. Iowa has snuck back ahead of Penn State thanks to some stuck landings on vault.
Rotation Six: Army – Floor, Ohio State – Pommel Horse, Penn State – Rings, Illinois – Vault, Iowa – Parallel Bars, Oklahoma – High Bar
This is going to be close between Penn State and Ohio State for the final team spot. Yoder will anchor pommels and bring in a huge score, but the rest of the lineup needs to hit because Penn State is pretty darn good on rings, and won the Big Ten title finishing there too.
Merryman (Iowa): opens with a peach half, one hand movement to adjust, nice pike press to handstand front an L-sit, good healy, dismounts with a layout and sticks it. 13.366
McHugh (Army): front double full to layout half, arm waves into a stick, sticks a double tuck, 1.5 to tucked front full, stuck, wide-arm press to handstand, nice and controlled, dive rolls to the corner, rudi side pass, hop forward, sticks a double full, dismounts 2.5 and a step forward. 13.500
Kovach (Illinois): yurchenko double, steps back. 14.166
Daggett (OU): yamawaki, tak full, loses his legs a bit, nice tkatchev, nice stalder, sticks the full twisting double layout dismount. 13.633
Fletcher (Ill): tsuk 2.5, nearly stuck but takes a step back.
Tamargo (PSU): good maltese to open, back uprise into a second maltese, layout planche, good front giant, tucked yamawakis, a bit of swing into an L-hold, dismounts 1.5 twisting double tuck, step forward. 13.866
Cummings (OSU): the Buckeyes have already had a fall so this must be a hit, opens with scissors, moves to swinging, travels well, almost a form break but presses right to handstand and dismount. 13.533
M. Diab (Ill): tsuk 2.5, a llittle crossed legs in the air, step forward. 14.166
Clayton (PSU): nice maltese, gains a little swing in an uprise to another maltese, gets rid of it before a well held cross, tucked yamawakis, good press up to handstand, good final giant and handstand, full-in dismount, stick it.
A. Diab (Ill): tsuk 2.5, some leg form in the air but just a small hop on the landing.
Brodarzon (Iowa): starts with a good L-sit, great bhavsar, tippelt done well, good release, stutz, double pike dismount, chest low and hops forward. 13.433
Roberson (PSU): good maltese to start, nice straddle planche, tucked and piked yamawakis to cross, super solid, small adjustments in handstand, front double pike dismount, step back. 13.966
Yoder (OSU): great russian work, smooth in his swinging elements, travels well in his circles as well, very clean dismount. 14.366
Huang (Iowa): nice peach, some hand moements after a diamidov, good release, solid peach half, double pike dismount, chest down, hop forward. 12.766
Hammet (PSU): great maltese, L-sit cross, good tucked yamawakis to planche, sturdy cross up to L-sit, good front giants, a bit of swing picked up, sticks his full twisting double layout dismount. 14.366
Anderson (OU): yamawaki to geinger, great, tak half, hits handstand, one-armed giant, layout half tkatchev, layout tkatchev, straddle tkatchev half, stalder, dismounts with a layout double double and sticks it to cap off this session. 13.866
Rotation Six: Army – 68.065, Ohio State – 63.331, Penn State – 70.097, Illinois – 71.365, Iowa – 65.864, Oklahoma – 68.131
After Six: Oklahoma – 419.191, Illinois – 410.324, Penn State – 404.287, Iowa – 400.390, Ohio State – 399.754, Army – 383.855
So in the end, it ended up finishing how it was seeded. Oklahoma was strong throughout, and after a wonky parallel bars rotation to start, Illinois dominated its last five rotations. Penn State went into the final rotation in fourth, but posted a huge 70+ score to claim its spot in finals. Ohio State sat in a qualifying spot heading into rotation six, but some early misses and a slightly less than average routine from Yoder caused the Buckeyes to finish fifth in this session. Iowa finished its meet strong on vault and parallel bars and claimed fourth, while Army’s plethora of misses throughout the day ended with a sixth place finish.
It should be an exciting final tomorrow with every spot on every podium up for grabs! I’ll post this session’s list of qualifiers below once they are announced. Looking forward to watching tomorrow’s competition and I hope you’ll join me once again to wrap up the season!
Oklahoma, Illinois, Penn State
Huang (Iowa), Davis (Army), Brodarzon (Iowa)
Tyndall (OSU), Yoder (OSU), Bonanno (OSU)
Yoder (OSU), Cummings (OSU), Gliozzi (W&M)
Watkins (W&M), Andryushchenko (OSU), Chung (Iowa)
Mandozzi (Iowa), Lillie (W&M), Bonanno (OSU)
Yoder (OSU), Brown (Iowa), Merryman (Iowa)
Herrador (Iowa), Davis (Iowa), Yoder (OSU)
Live Blog by Brandis Heffner
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