By Jenny Peter
The No. 1 ranked Stanford men’s gymnastics team started its season with a crucial win over No. 2 Cal in the Haas Pavilion last Friday in Berkeley, Calif. The Cardinal beat the Golden Bears by over 11 points, with a combined team score of 352.75 to Cal’s 340.10 — a considerably large margin to win by in the gymnastics realm.
“It always feels good to dominate Cal,” said junior team captain Tim Gentry.
Stanford was down by 1.5 points after its first rotation on pommel horse, but they did come through with two big scores by juniors Eric Hergenrader and Josh Dixon with a 14.25 and 14.0, respectively. Although Cal is known for their great pommel horse and parallel bars, Stanford was able to make up the points on the other events.
On floor, freshmen Eddie Penev made his debut and produced the highest score on the event with a 15.6. Penev began his routine with an explosive double layout with two twists. Since the four highest scores from each event contribute to the team score, the junior class made its hit routines count — Gentry scored a 15.25, Josh Dixon had a 15.05 and Alex Buscaglia had a 15.0.
The team carried its momentum to vault and scored their highest event score of the night. Dixon stuck his double twisting vault and procured a 15.85 to heat things up. The rest of the line-up followed suit with high scores from Penev (15.75), Buscaglia (16.0) and Gentry (16.1), who came agonizingly close to sticking his handspring double front.
Rings was another highlight of the night with several stuck landings and clean lines from redshirt freshmen starter Jordan Nolff, junior Ryan Lieberman and senior Nick Noone. The Cardinal has a clear advantage over any team on this event, beating Cal by over 4 points on the rings. Gentry dominated with a 15.65 and scored a full point more than Noone (14.65) who placed second. Freshmen anchor James Fosco also had an impressive routine despite coming off a foot injury and having to skip the dismount.
The Cardinal lost a bit of momentum on the high bar and parallel bars and had a few falls, though Buscaglia and Lieberman were able to clutch first and second place on high bar with a 14.85 and 14.7. Although Stanford’s high bar wasn’t its best, Cal did not fare better. The Golden Bears were forced to count two 12’s toward their team score. However, it was all Cal on parallel bars. The Bears took down Stanford by almost two points with the help of Kyle Bunthuwong’s 15.5. There were a few standout routines by Lieberman (14.35) and Dixon (14.6).
“Fortunately, by the last event, we had built up quite a lead and it wasn’t even close.” commented Gentry.
“We just need to start focusing on detail areas and polishing our routines. Everyone had some mistakes and we will be hoping to fix those as we prepare for this meet,” said Gentry. “We will be looking for a repeat domination win this weekend at home on Saturday.”
The meet will be held in Burnham Pavilion at 7 p.m.