Stanford men’s gymnastics had a rollercoaster of a night that ended in a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Championships on Saturday in Chicago. Senior Robert Neff notched an NCAA first place on the high bar.
The team has managed to place in the top five every single year since 2006, a clear example of the members’ consistent nature and power.
Stanford posted a 408.725 overall score, bested by favorited Oklahoma (414.858), Minnesota (411.923) and Illinois (411.689). After the Cardinal, Nebraska (403.589) came in fifth and Penn State (401.991) in sixth.
On Friday, the Cardinal captured the semifinal, going into the Saturday finals with strong momentum.
On Saturday, the team managed to maintain the lead through the first three rotations, falling in the fourth event, floor.
First up was the vault rotation, opened by junior all-around Gareth Weiss. Weiss’ 14.133 was a good start, followed by freshman Bryan Perla, Neff, sophomore Connor Lewis (with a 14.500) and sophomore Bailey Perez. The team finished with a 69.999, starting off with a lead.
Next up were the parallel bars, where Stanford managed to maintain its lead with a 69.432 team score. Freshman Blake Sun held his own with a 14.400 tie for fifth, and junior Grant Breckenridge made a solid contribution with a 14.100 finish.
The Cardinal’s best performance came on the high bar, due to Neff’s 14.766 along with a second-place 14.500 by Breckenridge. The stakes were looking good for the team at this point, halfway done with the night and still ahead of the toughest competitors in the nation.
Unfortunately for the team, this hope deteriorated with the floor event as the team earned the lowest overall score of the night (67.297). This less-than-average performance might have been able to slide in the normal season, but in the NCAA Finals even the smallest mistake is a big advantage to fierce competitors.
The team was not able to regain an advantage in the pommel horse and the rings, despite continued strong performances.
First in the all-around was Oklahma’s Yul Moldauer, who ended Saturday with a 87.292, leaving all of his opponents in the dust.
Neff placed sixth in the all-around with an 82.032 score, marking his last performance with Stanford an impressive one. This was the four-time All-American’s second time as NCAA Champion on the high bar.
Other seniors that finished their college careers were Jacob Barrus, Drew Burton and Ryan Sheppard.
Contact Laura Sussman at laura111 ‘at’ stanford.edu