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Men’s, women’s gymnastics continue momentum against ranked opponents

A number of strong performances from junior Nicole McNair (above) helped Stanford squeak past No. 20 Arizona last Saturday. (RAHIM ULLAH/The Stanford Daily)

No. 13 Stanford women’s gymnastics beat No. 20 Arizona in an extremely tight competition that ended 196.650 to 196.150.

The Cardinal almost tied their season-best team score, hitting all 24 of their routines for the first time this season. The team also collected a myriad of individual records that aided in their team victory.

Elizabeth Price dominated the competition, placing first in every event. This led the sophomore to first in the all-around with a season-high 39.650. She also netted first places in vault (9.875), bars (9.975), beam (9.875), and floor (9.925), earning a career-high with her bars score.

As a group, the Cardinal won three out of four events on Saturday, losing only 48.900- 49.125 on the beam.

The team started strong with a 49.200 to 49.050 victory on the vault. Junior Nicolette McNair tied for second in the event, with a 9.850. She has been one of Stanford’s most consistent gymnasts, and has been one of the main factors in several Cardinal victories. Next, freshman Taryn Fitzgerald astounded audiences with a career-best 9.850 that also put her in the tie for second. Fitzgerald’s performance once again showed the depth of the team’s freshman class.

Stanford won the bars event by another small margin, scoring a season-best 49.300 to Arizona’s 48.950. Redshirt senior Ivana Hong came in second, scoring a 9.875 to put her level with teammate Nicolette McNair. Danielle McNair’s 9.800 tied for fourth with Arizona’s Lexi Mills.

Despite losing the beam event, the Cardinal put on a strong show. Nicolette McNair earned herself a third place score of 9.825, fractionally behind a second place tie between three Arizona gymnasts.

The Cardinal’s 49.250 on floor was their season-best. Junior Haley Spector tied with Price for first with a career-best score. Arizona gymnasts Jessie Sisler and Selynna Felix-Terrazas claimed second and third place, respectively, while senior Taylor Rice came in fourth place with a score of 9.825. The Cardinal women next take on No. 5 Utah on Saturday at Maples Pavilion. This will be a particularly tough test for Stanford, as the Utes are currently ranked No. 3 in the bars event and No. 6 on beam.

Utah gymnasts Kassandra Lopez and Breanna Hughes will place pressure on Elizabeth Price in all events. Lopez’s specialty is on the bars, and the senior should make it particularly difficult for Price to extend her streak of victories in this event.

Ute sophomore Samantha Partyka will also be a great asset for Stanford’s opponents – she has already come up with a 9.975 on floor this season and will anchor Utah’s floor routine on Saturday. Partyka is also an All-American on vault.

The Cardinal will have to utilize the momentum from their past meets and continue with season and career-bests in order to oust yet another top-ranked team.

***

While the women downed Arizona, No. 2 Stanford men’s gymnastics also captured a victory, winning by a hair’s breadth with a 432.800 team score against the deep field of No. 3 Minnesota (432.650), No. 5 Illinois (429.750) and No. 7 Iowa (419.700). The close win left the Cardinal undefeated thus far this season.

The Cardinal came up with a 72.950 on floor to begin the meet. Minnesota (74.200) won the event, but Stanford junior Gabe Flores scored a 14.950 which tied him for fourth with Minnesota’s Joel Gagnon.

Illinois won the pommel horse scoring a 70.550. Although they didn’t win the event, Stanford saw some strong individual performances. A 14.650 put fifth year senior Brian Knott in third, and a solid team effort helped them keep up with the other teams.

Sophomore Ryan Sheppard won the rings title with a 14.950, helping Stanford take the event with a 72.700. Many gymnasts contributed to this win, including senior Dennis Zaremski, junior Jordan DeClerk, sophomore Robert Neff and freshman Josiah Eng. The Cardinal’s team score only narrowly topped Illinois’ 72.400.

The Cardinal then took a team second place with a 73.700 on vault against Minnesota’s 73.750. Flores’ 15.150 took the second place title. Sheppard once again contributed with a 14.750, and the team score was also boosted by junior Taylor Seaton and sophomore Drew Burton. Minnesota has performed very well on the vault this season with the help of gymnast Yaroslav Pochinka, who managed to take the event again on Saturday.

Strong performances on the two bars events – the parallel bars and the high bar – were needed for Stanford to remain unbeaten.

The Cardinal won the parallel bars event with a 73.050. Minnesota came up with a close second place score of 72.350. Minnesota was scoring average totals until Tristan Duran competed second to last and garnered a 15.600, which proved enough to win him the event. Knott, who competed fourth for Stanford, came in second with a season-best 15.200. DeClerk also achieved a season-best 15.000, and freshman Grant Breckenridge notched a respectable 14.300.

It all came down to the last event as the Cardinal gave its all to stay on top. Stanford was ahead of Minnesota by .350, but a strong Gophers performance could have put pressure on the Cardinal’s lead. Illinois’ Tyson Bull came in first with a 15.150, with the Illini’s Chandler Eggleston’s 14.900 coming in a close second. Minnesota’s Paul Montague came next with a 14.750, but Stanford stayed consistent, with Knott (14.700) landing in fourth, followed by Seaton (14.600), Neff (14.550) and sophomore Jacob Barrus (14.200).

While Stanford’s combined score was its lowest total this season, the team should be happy with its victory, especially since star junior All-American Akash Modi did not compete.

Five members of Stanford’s men’s gymnastics will go on to compete at the Winter Cup Challenge this Thursday in Las Vegas. This Cup features all six members of the 2015 USA Men’s World Championships Team, along with gymnasts from more than 11 states.

 

Contact Laura Sussman at [email protected]

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