No. 2 Stanford men’s gymnastics were shorthanded in its first regular season meet of the 2021 season. Counting at most four routines in four of the six events toppled the Cardinal in a 306.650 – 379.950 loss to No. 16 William & Mary.
Looking to repeat as NCAA champions, head coach Thom Glielmi acknowledged the difficulty his gymnasts had in training but is optimistic about this season.
“The team has been doing everything they can to be ready for this season,” wrote Glielmi in an email. “There have been so many changes as far as being able to train on campus, so that has been very stressful for them.”
“I’m hoping we can settle into training. If we can do that and have some consistency, I am very optimistic about our chances to finish on the podium,” he added.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the meet — hosted virtually on Virtius — featured simultaneous, live coverage of each athlete’s routines and up-to-date scores from judges who evaluated the routines through the online platform.
“It was definitely a new and very interesting competing through the virtual platform Virtius,” Glielmi wrote. “The platform makes it easy for spectators to understand the team aspect of the sport.”
The Cardinal started relatively strong on the floor exercise. Junior Blake Wilson earned the event title with a 13.650 and pushed the Cardinal to a 0.200 lead into the second event, the pommel horse.
Planning to compete in the all-around, senior Andrew Bitner posted an 11.950 on the floor exercise but did not continue in the competition due to an apparent knee injury on his final tumbling pass. Freshman Brandon Nguyen hit six-for-six in his debut in the all-around.
Senior Blake Sun, Junior Matthew Szot and Nguyen had impressive showings on the pommel horse with scores of 12.600 and above. However, junior Christian Marsh from William & Mary took the event title with a 13.350, six-tenths higher than the next-highest score.
The still rings was the other event that the Cardinal competitors were able to post five routines in the meet. Nguyen led the Cardinal with a solid 12.750 with a stuck landing, but was 0.150 behind in earning the event title, which also went to Marsh.
Heading to the vault, three Cardinal athletes performed exceptionally well with junior Curran Phillips leading the charge and finishing with a 14.950 and a stuck landing. Phillips’ vault was 0.350 shy of a perfect 10 in execution. Nguyen and sophomore Zach Martin also posted mid-to-high 14’s for their vaults.
Only two routines counted for the Cardinal on the parallel bars with Nguyen scoring a 12.450 and Sun earning the event title with a 14.650, the only routine that had at least a 9.0 execution score among both teams.
The high bar — the final event of the meet — proved to be a closer affair between Wilson and William & Mary’s Andrew Lyubovsky. Wilson put an exclamation mark on his routine with a stuck landing, earning himself a 13.150. However, Lyubovsky squeaked out the event title by just five-hundredths of a point.
The Cardinal will next take on its Bay Area rival No. 11 Cal on Feb. 13 at 4 p.m PT. You can watch the virtual meet here.
Contact Jordan John Lee at jjslee22 ‘at’ stanford.edu.