After completing a historic takedown of the reigning Olympic champions last weekend, No. 2 Stanford men’s gymnastics will get another opportunity to shake up the gymnastics world this Saturday with a visit to the undefeated No. 1 Oklahoma Sooners.
Stanford will have to be near its peak form if it wishes to seriously challenge the Sooners in a meet that may very well be a preview of the national championships in April. The Cardinal’s high score on the season – a 447.700 – is just .670 above the average score recorded by the defending national champions. Four Sooners rank in the top-10 in the country in all-around performance, and the team’s depth has left other top-caliber programs it has faced, like No. 4 Minnesota, struggling to catch up.
Oklahoma has been just inches short of becoming a dynasty in recent years and is riding a streak of five straight appearances in the NCAA Championships, one of the longest runs in the history of collegiate gymnastics.
Still, there is plenty of reason to be hopeful for a Stanford victory. While the Cardinal may not match Oklahoma’s depth on paper, they are extremely talented at the top, with junior Akash Modi ranked as the top all-arounder in the country and sophomore Ryan Sheppard at No. 3. The team should also maintain some momentum after its big win last weekend, in which multiple players broke their season-highs.
No. 16 Stanford women’s gymnastics will also look to close out its season well this weekend in a Sunday meet against No. 7 UCLA and No. 10 Georgia in Los Angeles.
The Cardinal topped the Bulldogs in dramatic fashion when the two met in Athens on Jan. 18, with a spectacular anchor performance by senior Melissa Chuang on the beam lifting Stanford into the lead by a 195.875-195.750 margin. Georgia will be facing a quick turnaround for this event after competing this Friday against Auburn, and the Cardinal will hope to exploit this to earn a second victory over the highly rated Bulldogs.
Stanford hasn’t faced the Bruins yet this year, but they appear to be quite a formidable opponent. UCLA has won four straight meets since losing to Cal on Feb. 1, a sharp contrast to Stanford’s own record, which includes consecutive losses to No. 6 Utah and No. 20 Oregon State.
Stanford will hope that sophomore Elizabeth Price can continue her strong recent form, and will look to its seniors to step up in their final regular season event.
The men’s gymnastics team will begin its meet at 5 p.m. on Saturday in Norman, while the women’s team will start at noon in LA on Sunday on Pac-12 Networks.
Contact Andrew Mather at [email protected].