Men’s and women’s gymnastics look for success on the road

Feb. 12, 2016, 2:46 a.m.

Fresh off a dominant home victory over Michigan and California, No. 2 Stanford men’s gymnastics will travel to Minneapolis to take on No. 3 Minnesota, No. 5 Illinois and No. 7 Iowa on Saturday, while the No. 13 women’s team will hit the road to take on the unranked Arizona Wildcats.

Despite the proximity of the teams’ rankings, Stanford men’s team figures to be a heavy favorite going into the meet. The Cardinal’s opponents have all averaged between 427.313 and 432.525 points per meet so far this season, a far cry below Stanford’s own mark of 440.590.

The Cardinal are also coming off their best performance of the year and the second-highest score in the country this season: a 447.700 recorded in their meet against the Bears and the Wolverines.

Junior Akash Modi has been the face of these successes, putting in a number of sublime performances and setting several new career highs in his recent events. Modi was named the College Gymnastics Association Gymnast of the Week for his recent showings on Wednesday, the second time he has captured the honor this year.

Modi will likely compete for the spotlight on Saturday with the Illini’s C.J. Maestas, who was featured alongside him on the USA Men’s Senior National Team. Maestas’ specialty is the still rings, on which he holds the NCAA record score of 16.450, but the senior can perform at an elite level in many activities and was the runner-up for the NCAA all-around title in 2012.

With the Canadian national team also competing at the event in a non-scored capacity, it promises to pit the Cardinal against its toughest level of competition until the team visits No. 1 Oklahoma on March 5.

The event will start at 5 p.m. Saturday on BTN Plus.

The women’s team also heads into the weekend as the heavy favorite for its Saturday matchup against Arizona.

The Cardinal have won 24 straight meets against their Pac-12 rivals and will look to continue this consistency against a Wildcats side that hasn’t recorded a victory since Jan. 17. Stanford has been focusing on building reliability across its exercises so far this season and will hope its work pays off in the desert this weekend.

Sophomore Elizabeth Price should again be the name to watch for Stanford. The former 2012 U.S. Olympic team alternate has won the all-around title in every meet in which she has competed for it, firmly establishing her as one of the top collegiate gymnasts in the country.

Even with Price sitting out some events, however, the Cardinal easily took care of business against Arizona State on Monday, demonstrating the team’s overall consistency. Junior Nicolette McNair stepped up in particular, tying for the win on bars and finishing a strong third in vault and on beam.

The Wildcats have seen a number of strong individual performances this season, but have struggled to find the consistency they need to compete at a high level. Sophomore Kennady Schneider has become a reliable contributor on floor, having earned a 9.900 in two of her last three events, but Arizona has yet to develop comparable talents in many of its other routines.

The Cardinal will take on the Wildcats at 6 p.m. Saturday on the Pac-12 Networks.


Contact Andrew Mather at amather ‘at’

Andrew Mather served as a sports editor and as the Chief Operating Officer of The Daily. A devout Clippers and Iowa Hawkeyes fan from the suburbs of Los Angeles, Mather grew accustomed to watching his favorite programs snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. He brought this nihilistic pessimism to The Daily, where he often felt a sense of déjà vu while covering basketball, football and golf.

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