In a nail-biter on Saturday, No. 2 Stanford (10-2, 4-1 MPSF) lost to the reigning back-to-back NCAA champion No. 1 Oklahoma (6-0, 2-0) by just .250 points, 432.300-432.050. Despite impressive performances on each event, Stanford was not able to overcome the first-ranked Sooners in a match that highlighted the shrinking gap between the two rivals.
The Cardinal attacked early, with freshman Bailey Perez’s floor performance earning him a career-best 14.550. Sophomore Grant Breckenridge and junior Jacob Barrus followed with high scores, earning 14.100 and 14.750, respectively. The extra push came from senior Taylor Seaton, who captured the event title with a whopping 14.950. Solid performances from each gymnast brought the team score to a final level of 72.000.
It seemed to be a night of team-bests, as the Cardinal beat their previous team records in five of the six events. Freshmen Joey Ringer (14.650) and David Jessen (13.600) both earned career-best scores on pommel horse to bolster the team score.
Following the pommel horse, sophomore Josiah Eng placed second on still rings with a 14.700 and Seaton nailed a season-best of 14.550. Despite the slough of season-bests, the Cardinal were unable to push past Oklahoma, as the Sooners dominated the event with three of the top five scores.
On vault, the Weiss brothers continued to show consistency in their routines. Sophomore Barrett Weiss scored a career-best of 14.700 just after his brother, Gareth, opened with a season-best of 14.150. The high scores kept coming, with junior Robert Neff posting a season-best 14.700 with a stuck landing. Seaton anchored the event with a high-flying vault that earned a 14.800.
Trailing Oklahoma by two points going into the final two rotations, the Cardinal were counting on a good performance on the parallel bars. Breckenridge and Neff didn’t disappoint, contributing matching scores of 14.650. Senior Jordan DeClerk anchored with a 14.400 close out the rotation.
Like all great sporting events, this one came down to the very end. Going into the final event, the high bar, Stanford was down by more than three points. However, the Cardinal refused to be intimidated by adversity and pushed Oklahoma to its limit.
Jessen had a career-best 14.650 on the event, followed by Seaton posting another incredible season-best, 15.050. Down to the wire, Neff gave Oklahoma quite the scare when his high bar routine received the highest score seen this season, 15.500. Despite an NCAA-best team score of 73.650 on the event, Stanford was unable to overcome the deficit, falling to the Sooners 432.300-432.050.
While Stanford ultimately fell to Oklahoma, the Cardinal showed great resilience and team effort in the meet, fighting for every landing throughout the afternoon. If the gymnasts can keep this level of effort in the remaining meets of the season, they will be well-prepared to face Oklahoma in a probable postseason matchup.
Stanford will travel to Ann Arbor, Michigan to take on Michigan and Illinois next Saturday at 11 a.m.
Contact Julia Massaro at jmassaro ‘at’ stanford.edu.