Missed routines and goofy dismounts tainted Stanford men’s gymnastics performance at Saturday’s International Collegiate Open. In front of a home crowd of 1,248 people at Burnham Pavilion, the Cardinal placed second to reigning Olympic champion Japan in the highly anticipated annual competition.
Japan claimed five team event titles and totaled 417.200 points to steal the show on Saturday afternoon. Stanford, ranked first in the NCAA, won one team event title and accumulated 411.200 points to finish runner-up, while Cal placed third at 389.450 and Team Norway fourth at 381.150.
In an uncharacteristically poor showing, Stanford missed six of its 30 routines. With just over a month left in the regular season, head coach Thom Glielmi expected his team to be hitting 28-29 of its routines.
“We were out of rhythm,” Glielmi said after the meet. “Normally we get into a rhythm with competitions. I saw it from the first event that some guys were on point and some guys were not … We didn’t take advantage of the energized arena.”
For Stanford, the home meet was an opportunity to square up against some of the best talent in the world, and the unique nature of the meet afforded any routine-ready athlete the opportunity to demonstrate “how their training has been going,” Glielmi said. “I think they missed an opportunity there.”
Senior Joey Ringer, a veteran on the pommel horse, had not scored lower than 13.600 in the pommel horse event since the season-opening meet. But on Saturday, the senior fell during his dismount and turned in a season-low 12.700 for 16th place.
Collectively, however, the Cardinal produced the second-highest team score of the season in the event at 67.000, led by sophomore Ian Gunther’s third-place performance. He contributed a 13.850 to finish as the top collegian in the pommel horse event.
“Gunther did a great job,” Glielmi said. “He upgraded his pommel horse and had some success. I’m really pleased with how he did.”
In the parallel bars, junior Blake Sun suffered a scary fall midway through his routine. After a second effort, he registered a season-low 11.100 in his signature event. He was later seen with bandages around his chin but, nevertheless, cheering on his Cardinal teammates.
The missteps and unexpected falls seemed to plague nearly every event, as well as the team’s top athletes. Sophomore Brody Malone, the reigning NCAA All-Around Champion and a recent addition to the U.S. Senior National Team, fell during his high bar routine, producing a 13.350 to tie for 10th place.
“We have some work to do,” Glielmi said.
Despite the mishaps, Stanford produced a quality showing on the rings event, winning the event title with a team score of 68.600. Junior Andrew Bitner, redshirt sophomore Trevor DiGerolamo and Gunther all notched 13.800 to share the top-score in the event.
“I think our ring run did a really good job,” Glielmi said. “They have been a very dependable lineup.”
Individually, several athletes also recorded season highs. Senior Bailey Perez set a new season-best of 14.550 in the floor event to finish fourth behind three athletes from Team Japan.
In the vault, freshman Riley Loos edged Japan’s Shigeto Suzuki for third place with a season-high 14.700. While Japan claimed first and second, Loos’ score marks a new career best for him.
Malone, who was named the MPSF Gymnast of the Week on Feb. 25, won the parallel bars event title with a 14.550. Glielmi limited his all-arounders, including Malone, Loos and freshmen Brandon Briones, to afford them some “needed” rest, he said.
Stanford will return to competition on Saturday, March 7, when it visits Air Force in Colorado. The Cardinal will then conclude its regular season with a home dual against Cal in Maples Pavilion on Saturday, Mar. 14 at 4 p.m. PT.