By Jenny Peter
Stanford senior gymnast Josh Dixon earned a spot on the U.S. national team after placing sixth in the all-around at the Winter Cup Challenge this weekend. Dixon is one of five new members appointed to the team from the Las Vegas meet, which determined the national team spots. Dixon will be on the team until August 2011 and will participate in a competition at the 2011 VISA Championships this summer in St. Paul, Minn.
Seven other members of the Cardinal team competed as individuals at the event to boost their NCAA national ranking and to vie for spots on the national team. Dixon scored a 168.8 over the two-day competition, with a strong showing on his best event, the floor exercise. He placed second with marks of 15.05 and 15.45. Senior Tim Gentry placed eighth overall and second on the still rings at 14.7 and 15.05.
Also competing for Stanford were redshirt senior Nick Noone, seniors Alex Buscaglia and Ryan Lieberman, redshirt sophomore John Martin and freshmen Chris Turner and Cale Robinson.
“It was a great learning experience for all our gymnasts competing,” said head coach Thom Glielmi. “Each athlete’s experience, focus and preparation was unique to their needs, but there was one common goal—to hit all their routines. Josh was 11 for 12, and Tim was 10 for 12. The other gymnasts had poor showings on the first day, and that made it tough to move into the top group.”
Six of the men advanced to the final round on Saturday after Thursday’s rocky preliminary round. The team met some of its expectations coming into the meet, but also missed others.
“We had a great opportunity to land several gymnasts on the national team,” Dixon said. “However, small mistakes and a tough first day of competition played a major role in the end result. At this level, consistency is the name of the game, and this early in the competitive season, if you hit 10 or 11 out of 12 routines, your chances of earning a spot on the team are very high.”
Besides Dixon and Gentry’s top-eight finishes, Turner also fared well in the all-around at 18th. Turner finished 10th on the pommel horse with a 13.4 and 13.3. Robinson also had an impressive third-place finish on vault with a 15.95 and 15.85.
Buscaglia placed 23rd in the all-around. The highlight came from his second-place finish in the horizontal bar, scoring a huge 15.8 the first day and 14.9 in the final round. Martin hit a solid pommel horse routine for a fifth-place finish, while Noone was the first-place finisher on parallel bars in his session with a season-best 14.35.
In the final round, the men were more consistent with their work, supported each other and showcased their preparation.
“Really, day two of competition was a highlight in itself,” Dixon said. “Our Stanford group had an entire rotation to itself, and we were nailing routine after routine . . . We really had the luxury of treating it like a team-format competition simply because we had the numbers and we were all familiar with the guy going before and after us. In such an ‘individual competition,’ having a group of teammates around you is a major advantage.”
Before entering the international circuit, Dixon will continue to compete with the top-ranked Cardinal through the NCAA National Championships in April. Stanford will next compete in the Gold Country Classic meet on Saturday at 7 p.m. in Oakland.