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Modi’s spectacular debut powers Stanford past Cal

Stanford men’s gymnastics opened its season in the best possible way for a Cardinal athletic team: beating Cal in Berkeley. The Cardinal, powered by the remarkable debut of freshman Akash Modi and five individual victories in the six events, beat the Bears in their home gym for the second consecutive season.

Freshman Akash Modi

Freshman Akash Modi (above) made a strong collegiate debut, scoring two individual victories and taking the all-around title. (DON FERIA/isiphotos.com)

As a team, the Cardinal won five out of the six events, but the meet did not start out auspiciously. Cal slightly edged out Stanford in the floor exercise to begin the afternoon, 72.300 to 72.000. Modi won the event in his collegiate debut with a 16.350, a remarkable .550 clear of second place, to keep Stanford in striking distance.

Stanford took the lead for the first time on the pommel horse behind the winning effort of senior Chris Turner. Turner executed on a high-difficulty routine to be the only gymnast to break the 15-point mark on the pommel horse, finishing with a 15.050.

The Cardinal and the Golden Bears traded narrow wins over the next two events: the rings and the vault. Sophomore Dennis Zaremski picked up the individual victory on the rings with a score of 15.100, and Modi led the Cardinal with a second-place 15.000 in the vault.

Stanford pulled away for good on the parallel bars, dominating Cal by over a full point, 71.300 to 70.200. Modi again led the way for Stanford, picking up his third team-high score and second individual victory of the afternoon with a 15.250.

With a comfortable lead already in hand, Stanford didn’t settle in the final event: the high bar. The Cardinal pummeled the Bears by 2.300 points, led by fifth-year senior Paul Hichwa, who won the event with a score of 15.000.

Only four gymnasts competed in every event of the meet: Modi of Stanford and three Cal gymnasts. Modi had the highest score of the four, finishing what will surely be an unforgettable collegiate debut with an all-around score of 88.150, just clear of Cal’s Donothan Bailey, who scored an 87.800.

Cal will have its chance for revenge this Saturday, when the Cardinal hosts the Golden Bears at 4 p.m. Cal will also return to the Farm the following Saturday as one of the four teams at the Stanford Open.

Contact Sam Fisher at safisher ‘at’ stanford.edu.

About Sam Fisher

Sam Fisher is the managing editor of sports for The Stanford Daily's Vol. 244. Sam also does play-by-play for KZSU's coverage of Stanford football, Stanford baseball and Stanford women's basketball. In 2013, Sam co-authored "Rags to Roses: The Rise of Stanford Football," with Joseph Beyda and George Chen.