NCAA gals’ gymnastics season has begun, but the fellas’ year starts more staggeringly throughout the month of January
The GIST: Last weekend may have launched the gals’ gymnastics season with a flurry of meets, but the fellas’ year starts more staggeringly throughout the month of January. Here’s how the men are flipping toward April’s natty.
How it works: While 247 schools have sponsored a program at some point, today there are just 15 NCAA men’s gymnastics teams across three conferences: the Big Ten, MPSF and ECAC. But due to the demand for collegiate opportunities, an organization called GymACT organizes school-adjacent teams to grow the sport.
- GymACT squads, which include teams at Arizona State, Temple and Washington, compete under NCAA rules and often against NCAA programs, but are not funded by schools or eligible for the NCAA Championship. Not very gym-nice-tics of them.
- As for those headed for the natty, 12 of the 15 teams plus the top individual all-arounders and event specialists (in floor, pommel horse, rings, vault, parallel bars and horizontal bar) will qualify for the final meet at Penn State on April 14th.
The contenders: Both Penn State and Oklahoma lead all programs with 12 nattys each, but the crown currently rests atop the Stanford Cardinal. The Cardinal, who have eight titles total, have been the reigning champs since their 2019 'ship.
- The most likely challenger? Oklahoma, who may be the sport’s modern dynasty: The Sooners have finished as either champs or runners-up every season since 2010. Damn.
The standouts: The Cardinal have become a pipeline for Team USA in recent years and boast Olympian and current U.S. national champion Brody Malone, as well as national teammates Asher Hong and Colt Walker, on the roster.
- But don’t sleep on Sooners sophomore Fuzzy Benas, an All-American and last year’s CGA Rookie of the Year, or Michigan senior and reigning NCAA vault and all-around champ Paul Juda.
What to watch: While Penn State and Michigan posted their first qualifying scores of the season last weekend, the Windy City Invitational will have Michigan return to the mats against NCAA foes Ohio State, Illinois, Greenville and GymACT squads NIU and UIC tomorrow at 8 p.m. ET.
beamout your long weekend by bookending it with the women — No. 5 Auburn takes on No. 2 Florida at 7:30 p.m. ET tonight on ESPN2 and No. 20 Georgia hosts No. 10 Ohio State, No. 32 Rutgers and No. 49 Fisk at 2 p.m. ET on SECN+ on Monday.