Despite a two-week hiatus on the competition floor, No. 3 Stanford men’s gymnastics (5-1-1, 2-0-1 MPSF) seems to be peaking at the right time, breaking the 410.000 threshold for the second time in the last three meets.
The 412.350 Stanford score was no match for No. 15 Army (3-4, 2-0 ECAC) as the Cardinal increased its difficulty, stuck more landings and earned numerous season- and career-highs in a 412.350 – 371.250 victory at Burnham Pavilion on Senior Day.
The 41-point margin of victory was the largest for Stanford this season, equivalent to almost seven touchdowns in football. If a football team wins by seven touchdowns, one would call that dominant, and that was certainly the case for men’s gymnastics on Saturday.
Stanford was led by its experienced and accomplished three all-around gymnasts: sophomores Brandon Briones and Riley Loos, and junior Brody Malone.
Although it was Senior Day, the meet belonged to Malone. In his first outing in the all-around this season, Malone captured six of the seven individual titles — floor exercise, pommel horse, still rings, parallel bars, high bar and the all-around — en route to a career-best 86.500.
In addition, Malone earned season-highs on the still rings and the high bar with a 14.150 and 14.450, respectively, and claimed a career-high 15.100 on the parallel bars. His score on the parallel bars this meet is the highest in the nation this season.
Malone’s all-around score is the second-highest in the nation this season behind Michigan sophomore Paul Juda.
“He did a phenomenal job today not only because he executed his routines but he also probably has the highest difficulty of anyone in the NCAA,” said head coach Thom Glielmi of Malone’s six-for-six performance.
Briones was able to snatch up the final individual title on the vault with a 14.700, over Malone’s score of 14.550. Briones also earned a season-high 13.300 on the pommel horse to claim the silver medal in the all-around with an 82.550.
The reigning CGA Specialist of the Week, Loos also had himself a day, scoring also a season-best 13.300 on the pommel horse and a career-best 13.400 on the high bar to finish behind Malone and Briones with an 82.250.
Sophomore Zach Martin was the third Cardinal gymnast to earn a career-high this meet, this time a 13.900 on the floor exercise.
Seniors Trevor DiGerolamo and Blake Sun also played their parts in their specialties. DiGerolamo scored a 12.500 on the still rings, and Sun earned a 13.900 for his efforts on the parallel bars, the second-highest score of the meet on this apparatus.
Along with the flurry of individual season- and career-highs, Stanford earned season-highs on its three weakest events — pommel horse (67.250), high bar (66.650) and floor exercise (69.800) — according to national rankings. Coupled with strong performances on its strongest three events, Stanford was basically untouchable from the start of this meet.
“The judges did not miss one deduction,” Glielmi said. “The scores were hard-fought and well-earned.”
At the end of the meet, Stanford honored its three seniors — Andrew Bitner, DiGerolamo and Sun — for their contributions and successes on and off the competition floor.
“They have been phenomenal examples and leaders for the team,” Glielmi said. “Because of their experience and their ability to connect with the guys, their leadership has been very intentional and much-needed, and they have done a tremendous job.”
The Cardinal is now looking to post-season competition with the MPSF Championships on Apr. 3 and is hoping to get that elusive win over No. 1 Oklahoma in 2021, after tying earlier this season.
“We are definitely looking to improve on our consistency,” Glielmi said. “All of the missed routines were uncharacteristic, so our goal moving forward is to hit every routine.”