By Jeremy Rubin
No. 2 Stanford men’s gymnastics finished first at the Stanford Open in a triumphant return to the Farm on Saturday. The Cardinal finished with a score of 420.0500, defeating No. 1 Oklahoma (408.2000) and No. 12 California (400.7000).
Despite a slow start, Stanford excelled at the last four events to secure victory. Stanford trailed Oklahoma in the floor exercise, 73.3500 to 72.1500, but won all other events and thoroughly dominated in front of the home crowd. Freshman all-around Brandon Briones led the team on the floor with a score of 15.000. His total score of 84.4500 paced the entire competition.
“Brandon did what he does in training,” said head coach Thom Glielmi. “We got what we expected from him, and I think he is really enjoying the competitions and that’s reflected in his success.”
After defeating Oklahoma in a come-from-behind victory to win the 2019 NCAA Championship, the pressure was on for Stanford to replicate last season’s success with a win against the Sooners this past weekend. “It’s very telling to see which guys thrive in competitions,” Glielmi said. But the team’s mindset remained unchanged. “Our goal is always to execute the routines to the best of our ability,” he continued.
Sophomore all-around Brody Malone, 2019’s MPSF Gymnast of the Year and recipient of five All-American honors at last season’s championship meet against Oklahoma, continued his success from 2019 and finished with a 82.1000. He placed first on rings and vault with scores of 13.9500 and 14.9000, respectively.
Stanford’s success came from contributors up and down the roster. Junior all-around Blake Sun thrived on the parallel bars, finishing first at the meet with a score of 15.2000. Sophomore all-arounds Ian Gunther and Blake Wilson each performed well on pommel horse and horizontal vault, respectively; Gunther’s 14.0500 on pommel horse led competitors from the three schools.
“[The team is] very good in training and we are very deep,” Glielmi said.
The Cardinal will travel across the Bay on Sunday for the third time in four weeks as they prepare to take on Washington, Cal and Arizona State at the Pac-12 Invite. As the probable No.1 team after edging Oklahoma at the Stanford Open, Stanford will have a target on its back as other teams look to take down the top competition.
One aspect to watch for will be how Stanford begins the meet. “[The team] needs to be ready to go on the first event with the first guy,” said Glielmi. “We cannot use up two events before we’re comfortable. We need to hit the ground running on that first event.”
After a successful start to the season with three first-place finishes and a defeat of No. 1 Oklahoma, Stanford will look to keep up the momentum at Berkeley. The meet will take place on Feb. 2 at 4 p.m. PST.
Contact Jeremy Rubin at jjmrubin ‘at’ stanford.edu.