Coming off a win over rival California last Friday, the Stanford men’s gymnastics team looks to continue its success this Saturday in the Stanford Open at 7 p.m. in Burnham Pavilion. Despite having competed against Cal twice in its first two meets of the season with the season series tied now at one apiece, the Cardinal is not done with the Bears just yet, as No. 6 Stanford will host No. 5 Cal, No. 9 Nebraska and unranked Washington in Saturday’s meet.
While playing the same team three times in three meets may be repetitive for sure, Stanford head coach Thom Glielmi does not mind it too much.
“As long as both teams are good, they both push each other to be better,” he said. “Especially if it’s a rivalry.”
The only real negative to this situation, Glielmi believes, is that Stanford gets less exposure to the national media by only playing on the West Coast to start out the season.
What has been clear this far through the season has been the importance of competing in a team’s home gym. Stanford lost to Cal by 6.100 points in the first meet in Berkeley, yet came away with a 4.750-point victory in Burnham last week. Glielmi mentions that it is “a definite advantage” to compete at home, as most Stanford meets fill the stands and are loud and energetic.
The Cardinal carries fewer players on its roster than most teams do, which forces certain players to compete in more events than they normally might. While Stanford has plenty of talent in each event, it cannot always put up the six players to compete in each event, which gives the Cardinal fewer chances to maximize its score when it takes the four best scores out of six competitors for each event. However, the Cardinal remains unfazed by the lack of depth.
“There is definitely more pressure on each of the competitors, but the guys handle it well,” Glielmi said.
The men will improve to 3-1 if they come away with a first place finish in the Open.
With a thrilling start to its season, the Stanford women’s gymnastics team brings its 4-0 record to No. 4 Oregon State University in a Friday-night meet. Stanford won the NorCal Quad Meet in Burnham Pavilion to start the season strong, but had more difficulty putting away conference opponent Washington in its most recent come-from-behind victory last Sunday.
The Cardinal likely has an even bigger challenge ahead of it on Friday, however, as the team goes on the road for the first time to face a Beavers team that won the Pac-10 last year. The Beavers are highlighted by senior Leslie Mak, the Pac-10 Gymnast of the Year in 2011 who specializes in the balance beam. Last year the Cardinal split its season series with Oregon State, though the Beavers did come away with a victory in the last two meets, including the Pac-10 Championships.
Oregon State, like Stanford, has not lost yet this year, earning it the No. 4 ranking in the country in the process. The Beavers beat No. 13 Arizona State on the road last week by 0.450 points, led by Mak’s career-high 9.950 score on the beam.
Stanford, however, has its fair share of impressive performances so far this year as well. Senior Nicole Pechanec won the all-around competition against Washington last week with a 39.250 score, highlighted by her 9.875 on the floor. Junior Ashley Brown has also had a very noteworthy start to the year, posting two 9.900’s in the beam and floor in last week’s competition.