The No. 9 Nebraska men’s gymnastics (0-0, 0-0 Big Ten) team kicks off the 2017 season on Jan. 13-14 at the 26th Annual West Point Open in West Point, N.Y. Team finals and individual preliminaries will take place Jan. 13, while the individual finals will take place Jan. 14. Competition begins at 6 p.m. on both nights.
Last Time Out
At the 2016 NCAA Championships in Columbus, Ohio, the Nebraska men’s gymnastics team finished seventh overall as a team, behind performances from Ethan Lottman, Sam Chamberlain, Austin Epperson and Anton Stephenson, who all earned All-America honors. The seventh-place team finish marked the program’s best since 1999 and the four All-Americans were the most for NU in a single season since 1998. Connor Adamsick, Antonio Castro and Kyle King also advanced to the finals on floor, pommel horse and vault, respectively.
Scouting the Competition
The Huskers will be joined by Arizona State, Army West Point, Navy, NY Alliance, Penn State, Springfield College and Temple University at the West Point Open.
Arizona State Sun Devils
Arizona State is young team with only five upperclassmen, including seniors Zack Mollett and Jared Newman and juniors Jeffrey Andony, Logan Linde, and Vincent Van De Motter. The upperclassmen are joined by 15 freshmen and sophomores. Despite their inexperience, the Sun Devils are ranked No. 16 in the preseason poll and look to make an impressive showing in their first meet of the season.
Army West Point Black Knights
No. 13 Army West Point returns two gymnasts that competed at the NCAA Finals last season in senior Leo Genders and junior Nathan Goff. Both competed on vault where Goff tied for 20th place and Genders placed 35th. The Black Knights have to replace Nissen-Emery Award Winner Jesse Glenn who graduated last year. Senior Joe Pritts looks to help fill the void as one of two seniors this season.
Navy is ranked 12th and it is expected that senior Jonny Tang will help pave the way for the midshipmen. Tang finished 15th in the all-around at the 2016 NCAA Championships, including a top-25 finish on floor. Fellow senior and captain Wyatt LaPointe is also expected to help lead the team, especially on still rings where he holds a career-high of 14.25.
NY Alliance is a club that provides both men and women gymnasts in the state of New York the opportunity to continue their gymnastics career at the collegiate level. Members hail from the College at Brockport, Binghamton University, the University at Buffalo, Cornell University, State University of New York at Cortland, Syracuse University and Nazareth College. The gymnasts from each school all compete under one umbrella team, which is NY Alliance.
Penn State Nittany Lions
Fellow Big Ten opponent Penn State is the highest-ranked team at the competition holding the No. 5 spot in the preseason poll. The team finished fifth at the 2016 NCAA Championships, including a second-place finish on floor. Penn State lost four-time All-American Trevor Howard, who finished sixth in the all-around at NCAAs and claimed the 2016 high bar title at the Big Ten Championships. However, the Nittany Lions return two-time All-American Leroy Clarke, Jr. Clarke, Jr. and Dominic DiFulvio. Clarke Jr. took eighth place at the NCAA Championships on still rings, while DiFulvio placed 24th on the same event.
Springfield College Pride
The 15th-ranked Pride are another young team the Huskers will face, with only seven upperclassmen on the team. Lone senior Nick Jama is expected to help lead the team, along with juniors Mike Grimaldi, Chris Graff and Joshua Dieker. The junior trio qualified for the NCAA Championships last season for Springfield College. Another gymnast to watch is sophomore Jannik Haas who qualified for NCAAs in 2016 on parallel bars.
Temple University Owls
Temple, ranked 18th in the preseason poll, begins its third season as a club team. Most of the scoring power is expected to come from returning seniors Wayne Conley, Pat Henley, Misha Kustin, Jordan Motter and co-captains Casey Polizzotto and Jakob Welsh. Antone Wright is recovering from a hand injury, but is expected to see action once he returns to competition. The Owls have a group of experience juniors as well, including Joe Fernandes who placed second on floor at the 2016 Eastern College Athletic Conference Championships.
Follow the Huskers
With a subscription, the West Point Open can be seen live at goarmywestpoint.com/watch/?Live=395. Nebraska will also live stream its events (facebook.com/NebraskaMensGym). The public can also receive live updates on the Nebraska men’s gymnastics twitter account (@NebraskaMensGym).
Inside the 2017 Roster
NU will depend on its two seniors to help lead the team both in the gym and in the classroom. All-American Austin Epperson played a significant role in the Husker lineup during the 2016 season. The Allen, Texas, native competed in every meet last season on floor, still rings and parallel bars. Epperson also appeared occasionally on high bar. Epperson competed in the postseason as well, advancing to the NCAA finals on floor for the first time. Epperson tied for fifth on the event and claimed his first All-America honor. Fellow senior Coleman Tokar posted a personal-best score on floor last season of 14.80, and he’ll look to impact the team on that event in 2017.
Both Epperson and Tokar have excelled outside of the gym. Epperson is a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree and a seven-time pick to the Nebraska Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll. Tokar is a four-time member of the Nebraska Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll. In the community, the duo was named to the Tom Osborne Citizenship Team in 2015 and 2016 for their service and leadership. Additionally, Tokar was awarded the Nebraska Student-Athlete HERO Leadership Award in 2015 and participated in Nebraska Life Skills’ annual service trip in May 2016 to the Dominican Republic. The pair looks to close out their Husker careers at the 2017 NCAA Championships.
With only two seniors, the juniors will be expected to make big contributions to the 2017 team. Totaling nine, they make up the largest class on the 2017 roster and add experience and skill to the team. Each junior has significant experience competing at the collegiate level and all but two have competed at the NCAA Championships in at least one year as a Husker.
Connor Adamsick had a breakthrough season in 2016, competing in every meet for Nebraska on floor and appearing occasionally on vault and pommel horse. The Mundelein, Ill., native competed in the postseason for the Huskers as well and advanced to the NCAA Championships Individual Event Finals on floor. Originally a walk-on, Adamsick’s hard work and effort earned him a scholarship following the 2016 season. Outside of competition, Adamsick was a star in the classroom, earning Academic All-Big Ten for the second consecutive year and being named to the Nebraska Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll in the fall. Adamsick provided a huge presence in the community and was recognized for his volunteer efforts, earning the Nebraska Student-Athlete HERO Leadership Award and a spot on the Tom Osborne Citizenship Team in 2016. Additionally, he was a member of Nebraska’s Life Skills service trip to the Dominican Republic in May 2016.
Antonio Castro played a key role in the pommel horse lineup last season, one of Nebraska’s best team events that broke the school record twice in 2016. The Pinecrest, Fla., native advanced to the Big Ten Championships Individual Event Finals last season and finished fourth overall on pommel horse. Castro is also expected to compete on high bar and vault for the Huskers after seeing plenty of action on those events last season. In the classroom, Castro earned Academic All-Big Ten Honors and a spot on the Tom Osborne Citizenship Team for his service and leadership in the community.
Kyle King became one of Nebraska’s top competitors on floor after breaking the school record against Air Force with a score of 15.85 on Jan. 23, 2016. He will be a key member on that event and will also contribute on pommel horse, vault and parallel bars in 2017. King also earned a spot on the Tom Osborne Citizenship Team in 2016 for his work in the community.
Daniel Leal helped the Huskers on high bar and parallel bars as a sophomore. The Cali, Colombia, native competed in every meet for NU. He advanced to the Big Ten Championships Individual Event Finals, where he earned the silver medal on parallel bars with a career-high score of 15.425. Leal will be a leader in the classroom for the team as well. He earned Academic All-Big Ten accolades in 2016 and is a three-time member of the Nebraska Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll.
Alex Magsam will play a vital role for Nebraska on rings and vault, after competing in every competition for the Huskers on both events last season. He earned a career-best score on vault (14.90) at Minnesota. In the final meet of the regular season, the Scottsdale, Ariz., native posted a career best on still rings (14.95). Magsam also competed at the Big Ten Championships and the NCAA Championships on both events. Magsam has been a star in the classroom and in the community as well. He is a two-time CGA All-America Scholar Athlete, an Academic All-Big Ten pick and a four-time member of the Nebraska Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll. Additionally, he earned a spot on the Tom Osborne Citizenship Team in 2016.
Sanjaya Roy competed occasionally for the Huskers on parallel bars last season and posted a career-high score of 13.45 at Penn State. He will look for more action on that event and will also compete for a spot in the still rings and parallel bars lineups in 2017. Roy has been a leader in the classroom for the Huskers and is expected to continue the trend this season. The Douglassville, Pa., native is a two-time CGA All-American, a two-time Academic All-Big Ten pick and a four-time member of the Nebraska Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll. Additionally, he was named to the Tom Osborne Citizenship Team for the second consecutive year for his volunteer work in the community.
Chris Stephenson, Travis Gollott and Brenon Sommers saw limited action last season due to injuries, but have been working hard during the offseason to contribute to the team in 2017 and pick up where they left off before getting hurt. Despite being out of competition for some of the season, the trio still made significant strides in the classroom and in the community. Stephenson earned Academic All-Big Ten and first-team CGA All-America Scholar Athlete honors in 2016 and has been named to the Nebraska Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll each semester he’s been at the university. Sommers also was named to the Academic All-Big Ten list as a sophomore and is a three-time member of the Nebraska Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll. Gollott earned a spot on the Nebraska Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll in the Spring of 2014 and 2015. The three were also named to the Tom Osborne Citizenship Team in 2016.
Despite being underclassmen, Nebraska’s five sophomores bring a tremendous amount of talent and success to the team both in and out of the gym. Returning All-American Anton Stephenson competed on every event in each meet as a true freshman last season. He broke the school all-around record (88.90) and set three career-highs over 15.00 on floor (15.70), vault (15.25) and parallel bars (15.30). The Fishers, Ind., native advanced to the finals at both the Big Ten Championships and the NCAA Championships and finished seventh on parallel bars at NCAAs to claim his first All-America honor. He was a three-time pick for Big Ten Freshman of the Week, becoming the first Husker male gymnast to win the honor.
Jordan King competed in all but two meets as a freshman, including the Big Ten Championships and the NCAA Championships. The Houston, Texas, native was an important part of the pommel horse lineup that broke the school record for total event score. He advanced to the Big Ten Championship Individual Event Finals with a career-high score of 14.85 on the event. At the finals, King finished 10th overall. King also saw a lot of action on high bar and could help the Huskers on still rings and parallel bars as a sophomore. Both King and Stephenson were invited to represent the Huskers at the prestigious Winter Cup in Las Vegas last season.
Andrew Zymball performed in every meet last season as a redshirt freshman, including the conference championships and the NCAA Championships, usually on floor. The La Vista, Neb., native notched a career-best of 15.05 on the event and was a major part of one of the team’s best events last season. Zymball helped the Huskers break the school floor record twice in 2016. As a sophomore, Zymball is expected to regularly compete on floor for the Huskers, and he could also see some action on still rings, vault and parallel bars.
Joshua Everitt became a consistent member of the still rings lineup last season, especially during the second half of the season. Everitt appeared five times during the regular season and also competed in the Big Ten Championships and the NCAA Championships. The Tucson, Ariz., native earned a career-best score of 14.45 against Iowa and Penn State and looks to build upon that in 2017.
Heath Anderson appeared once on still rings, but spent most of the season adjusting to collegiate competition and preparing for 2017. As a still rings specialist, he will look to help the Huskers on that event as a sophomore. Each member of the sophomore class was named to the Tom Osborne Citizenship Team for their efforts in the community in 2016. Additionally, Stephenson, King, Zymball and Everitt have each earned spots on the Nebraska Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll every semester they’ve been enrolled at Nebraska.
The freshman class includes Jacob Bonnay (Ontario, Canada), Evan Hymanson (Marlboro, N.J.) and Josh Martin (Buffalo Grove, Ill.). The trio had impressive junior careers before coming to Nebraska and look to start making an immediate impact on the team this season.