By Sam Fisher
Stanford men’s gymnastics put up a fight on its home turf at Burnham Pavilion, but the No. 4 Cardinal had to settle for a third-place finish after it could not overcome strong efforts from No. 6 Cal and No. 2 Michigan at Saturday’s Stanford Open. Stanford led for most of the meet, taking a three-point lead into the final rotation, but the Card could not put up enough points on the high bar to hold off Cal and Michigan, which passed Stanford to finish in second and first place, respectively.
The Cardinal (2-0) had defeated Cal (0-2) on each of the two Saturdays prior to the Stanford Open, first in Berkeley by 5.450 points and then at Burnham Pavilion by 8.850 points. Stanford finished with a final score of 429.900 in the Stanford Open, lower than its winning scores the previous two weeks but higher than Cal’s scores over that stretch.
The Bears made a big enough improvement to make the Cardinal pay for the slight decrease in points, squeaking past Stanford for second place with a final score of 430.300.
Freshman phenom Akash Modi suffered the first setback of his young collegiate career, falling on the parallel bars. Modi’s fall required stitches on the top of his head, causing him to miss the final two rotations of the meet. Through the first four rotations, Modi had an all-around score of 60.050 and put up the team-high score in both the pommel horse (15.100) and the vault (14.900).
With Modi out, the Cardinal had to dig deep to try to pick up the victory. In the meet’s format, teams can have up to six gymnasts compete with the top five individual scores counting for the team score. Stanford planned to have only five gymnasts compete on the high bar, including Modi, so the freshman’s injury caused a late lineup addition in fellow freshman Andrew Misiolek. Misiolek scored an 11.900 in his first collegiate high-bar action.
Stanford’s score of 66.550 on the high bar did not end up being enough. While it was only slightly lower than Cal’s high bar score of 67.600 and above Michigan’s score of 64.350, both the Bears and the Wolverines took advantage of stronger events in their final rotation to pull ahead. Michigan put up a remarkable score of 76.200 on the floor – the highest team score in any event all night – to take first place while the Bears scored a strong 72.700 on the pommel horse to snag second.
Stanford did pick up two individual wins, both courtesy of sophomore Dennis Zaremski. Zaremski finished with an impressive score of 15.950 in the rings, well clear of Michigan’s top scorer Alex Bubnov (15.200), and he followed that up with a 15.350 on the parallel bars to edge out Michigan’s Syque Caesar (15.300).
With Modi’s injury, the Cardinal did not have a single gymnast finish the all-around competition. Cal’s Donothan Bailey picked up the all-around crown with a final score of 88.900. Modi’s average score of 15.0125 per event would have been enough for his third consecutive all-around victory had he continued at that pace instead of suffering an injury.
After a weekend off, the Cardinal will head on the road for its next competition – a date with No. 1 Oklahoma in Norman, Okla., on Feb. 8 at 5 p.m. Stanford’s next home competition is March 1 at 4 p.m.
Contact Sam Fisher at safisher ‘at’ stanford.edu.