Men’s gymnastics triumphs against Japan, Canada, Finland and Cal

March 2, 2016, 1:05 a.m.

Last Saturday, No. 2 Stanford men’s gymnastics stepped out of its comfort zone and took on rival No. 9 Cal, along with the international teams of Canada, Finland and Japan – the reigning Olympic champions – in the International Collegiate Challenge. In an extremely tight race against some of the best teams in the world, the Cardinal came away with a victory, keeping their record unblemished.

Most impressive was junior Akash Modi, who earned himself an all-around first place for the fourth time this season against some of the world’s most competitive gymnasts.

The Cardinal began the competition with a second place on the pommel horse event, netting a team total of 72.950, second only to Japan. Modi continued his outstanding performance this season with a 15.250 on the pommel horse that put him in second place. His teammate and fellow junior, Drew Willoughby, continued the trend and earned himself a third place with a 15.000.

Second in the rotation came the rings, where the Cardinal increased their determination, winning the event with a 73.750. The team showed their depth in the event, with senior Dennis Zaremski tying for first (15.250), junior Jordan DeClerk notching third place (15.050) and freshman Josiah Eng tying for fourth (14.700).

Next came the vault event, and the Cardinal took another first place as they posted a season-best team score of 75.050. Junior Taylor Seaton secured a first place with an astounding career-high 15.400, and Modi once again performed well, scoring a 15.350 and placing in second.

As the parallel bars event rolled by, Stanford found itself once again with multiple spots on the podium, as the team took the first place with a 74.800. Zaremski and Modi were the leaders for the event, earning a second place (15.650) and a third place (15.550), respectively.

Japan took first on the high bar (75.850), but Stanford wasn’t far behind (73.800) in what proved to be a battle until the end between the world champions and the Cardinal. Japan’s Daisuke Suzuki dominated the event with a 16.150, and Canada’s Jackson Payne netted a second with a 15.600. Stanford’s gymnasts did not back down, though, and fifth-year senior Brian Knott scored a season-best 15.050 to put him in fifth place on the event.

As the night came down to the last rotation, Japan was in first place with Stanford trailing behind by a marginal 1.050. Stanford’s last event was the floor, while Japan had yet to compete on the vault.

Japan, although performing well, was unable to beat the Cardinal’s scores on the vault, while the Cardinal were able to post some high scores on floor that brought about victory. Stanford gymnasts stepped up to the plate and cemented the victory with a couple of crucial routines and a score of 74.250.

Modi tied for second from the anchor position in dramatic fashion, landing a 15.600 that solidified Stanford’s victory. Junior Gabe Flores impressed as well with a 15.200, while sophomore Robert Neff produced a solid 15.100.

These last routines allowed Stanford to remain undefeated as it came up with a 444.600 final team score, barely topping Japan’s 444.250.

Stanford’s next meet will be a highly-anticipated clash with No. 1 Oklahoma. The top two teams in the country will meet this Saturday at 5 p.m. in Norman, Oklahoma.


Contact Laura Sussman at [email protected].

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