Clash of the titans: No. 1 Oklahoma up next for No. 4 men’s gymnastics

March 12, 2021, 5:54 p.m.

Since 2015, No. 1 Oklahoma (5-0, 2-0 MPSF) and No. 4 Stanford (4-1, 2-0 MPSF) have finished as two of the best teams in the nation. Together, they have claimed the last five national championships. On Saturday, these two gymnastics titans will face off in Norman in a rematch of the 2019 NCAA Championships, where the Cardinal emerged victorious by less than a point.

A few months after its clutch performance in Illinois, the Cardinal met the Sooners at the Stanford Open, dominating Oklahoma before the COVID-19 pandemic.

If this past week was any indication of the Cardinal’s resiliency this season, the Sooners will have a tough challenge ahead defending their perfect season so far.

Stanford will look to reigning MPSF Gymnast of the Week junior Brody Malone after he returned to competition just last week. Malone competed in only four events across two meets, securing all four individual event titles — two on the pommel horse, one on the parallel bars and one on the still rings. In addition, he set a career-best 14.500 on the pommel horse on Sunday.

Although strong in all six events, the Cardinal does have a weak link on the floor exercise, where it is ranked 9th nationally. That is where reigning CGA Specialist of the Week junior Blake Wilson comes in handy. Having earned his fourth individual title on the event in the last five meets, Wilson’s tumbling prowess scored him a career-best 14.600.

If the Sooners have a chance to take an advantage in the dual meet, they will try to capitalize on their national-leading performance on the floor exercise among other events.

On the other hand, the Cardinal will need to replicate its last two vault rotations as the team holds the number one spot in the nation on this apparatus over the Sooners. The depth of Stanford’s vault rotation is unlike any other.

The two young Brandons — true freshman Brandon Nguyen and sophomore Brandon Briones — led the efforts against Springfield and Cal, respectively. In addition, junior Curran Phillips has earned the highest vault score in the nation and is currently ranked second in the nation on the apparatus. Nguyen closely follows Phillips in third atop the rankings.

Two more Cardinal gymnasts — sophomores Zach Martin and Riley Loos — round out the top ten in the nation.

Although the Sooners were not able to score above 410.000 in their last meet against William & Mary, Oklahoma will not back down in snapping Stanford’s two-win streak against them.

The first routines of the meet will start on Mar. 13 at 11:00 a.m. PT. You can watch the meet on Fox Sports.

Jordan John Lee is a staff writer for the Sports section and occasionally writes for the News section of The Daily. Fresh off graduating with majors in Biology and Classics, he is a second-year master's student in Epidemiology and Clinical Research. From the 626, he has grown up watching his Los Angeles teams, the Dodgers and Lakers. His dream is to watch tennis at all four Grand Slam tournaments. Contact him at jjlee 'at'

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