Widgets Magazine

Men’s gymnastics finishes second at NCAA Championships

It’s been a fairly predictable season for No. 2 Stanford men’s gymnastics, with the team sweeping almost every competitor but failing to challenge No. 1 Oklahoma. On Saturday, the Cardinal’s season ended in exactly that fashion, as they put in a second-place performance but finished well behind the Sooners in the NCAA Championships at Ohio State.

 (MIKE KHEIR/The Stanford Daily)

Junior Akash Modi (above) took the individual title on the parallel bars with a 15.300 and the title in rings with a 15.200 and finished second in the all-around as the Cardinal took second as a team at the NCAA Championships to No. 1 Oklahoma. (MIKE KHEIR/The Stanford Daily)

The Cardinal experienced a number of stunning individual performances, but it didn’t prove sufficient to best the defending national champions. Oklahoma’s historically talented roster did not drop a meet all season and became the first collegiate team in history to post a score above 450 when they hosted the Cardinal at the beginning of March.

Stanford did have some hope of pulling a dramatic upset early, starting the event off with strong scores on the vault (74.050) and the parallel bars (74.000), as the Sooners struggled to keep up on the stingily-scored floor and pommel horse. Junior Akash Modi took the individual title on the parallel bars with a 15.300, while senior Dennis Zaremski tied for fourth to boost the team 1.3 points clear of Oklahoma after the first two rotations.

The Cardinal lost a bit of momentum in the third rotation as they attempted the high bar while Oklahoma participated on the still rings, but the team still seemed to control its destiny as it remained just six-tenths of a point off the leaders. Modi jointly received his second individual title of the evening with a 15.200, but the team could only manage a 72.600 overall while the Sooners notched a 74.500 on the more generous rings.

In the fourth rotation, however, a gap began to open between the two rivals. Oklahoma posted a dominating 75.250 on the vault, the only score that broke 75.000 in the entire meet, while the Cardinal slipped up a little by posting an uncharacteristically low 71.700 on the floor. The team’s struggles were compounded on the pommel horse in the fifth rotation, where only fifth-year senior Brian Knott was able to break the top 20 as the team posted its lowest score in any event on the year (67.650).

The team briefly fell to fourth place overall going into the final rotation, but an impressive effort on the still rings (74.050) helped it recover its previous position and end the season as the national runner-up. Though the Cardinal’s first four competitors on the event didn’t guarantee the team the result it needed, a clutch final performance from Zaremski (15.450) put the outcome out of question and earned the senior his second consecutive individual title in the event.

Modi finished second in the all-around, a fitting end to an exceptional season for the junior. As a team, Stanford failed to win any of the individual events but ended with three second-place finishes to help bolster it to its final position.

The team qualified for the championship meet after narrowly winning its preliminary pool on Friday. In this meet, the Cardinal won four of the six events but nearly left the door open to an upset after posting a weak score on the vault and building only narrow advantages in many of their other activities.

“The team takes away that they need to step it up and knock out routines that they’re capable of doing if they’re going to win,” head coach Thom Glielmi said on the morning after the qualifier. “I don’t think we can have a performance like tonight and expect to win a championship. We had six falls, which is 6 points higher and right around a 440. They need to do their job. They need to enjoy the competition, and that’s when they do their best gymnastics.”

The Cardinal did manage to improve its scores in many of their better events in the finals but were never able to totally find the consistency they needed to win. With just three seniors on the roster, however, most of the team will likely have another chance in the coming seasons to make some history of its own.

 

Contact Andrew Mather at amather ‘at’ stanford.edu.

About Andrew Mather

Andrew Mather is a senior studying symbolic systems and economics. Growing up a devout Clippers and Iowa Hawkeyes fan in the suburbs of Los Angeles, Mather grew accustomed to watching his favorite programs snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. He brings this nihilistic pessimism to The Daily, where he occasionally feels a strong sense of déjà vu while covering basketball, football and golf.