No. 4 men’s gymnastics finishes titanic battle with No. 1 Oklahoma in a tie

March 13, 2021, 8:29 p.m.

In a sport decided by hundredths and thousandths, the chances of a tie in collegiate gymnastics are next-to-nothing. On Saturday, the two titans of men’s gymnastics — No. 4 Stanford (4-1-1, 2-1-0 MPSF) and No. 1 Oklahoma (5-1-0, 2-1-0 MPSF) — defied those odds to end a hard-fought battle in a 409.300 – 409.300 tie.

Stanford men’s gymnastics has not finished a meet in a tie in at least the last 21 years since yearly archives began in 1999.

The meet came down to Stanford junior Brody Malone on the parallel bars and Oklahoma redshirt senior Matt Wenske on the horizontal bar to decide this mammoth meet. Before the final routines, the Cardinal was 1.700 points behind the Sooners due to its lackluster performance on its previous rotation, the horizontal bar.

Malone came in clutch on the horizontal bar to even put the Cardinal in this position. His first time on the event this season, Malone was the only gymnast to score above 14.000 on the event this meet with a 14.400, which earned him his fifth individual title of the season.

Malone’s experience in pressure-filled moments also helped him produce a season-high 14.500 on the parallel bars, squeaking out another event title over senior Blake Sun by five hundredths. On the other side, Wenske was not able to shut the door on the Cardinal with a subpar 12.800 on the horizontal bar, exactly 1.700 points behind Malone’s performance.

“Brody anchoring the events is the kind of run we want to have,” said head coach Thom Glielmi. “There can be a big swing in the score with him doing his job, which he did.”

“He handled the pressure really well and got it done for us,” Glielmi added.

Throughout this meet, the Cardinal and the Sooners pushed each other to perform their best routines.

The Cardinal got the ball rolling on its first rotation, the pommel horse. Junior Ian Gunther led the team off with a season-best 13.850. That would be the highest score of the meet on the event, earning Gunther his third individual title. The next best routine would come from sophomore J.R. Chou with a career-best 13.550.

The Sooners also ran flying out of the gates on their first rotation, the floor exercise. Senior Gage Dyer capped off an outstanding rotation with a 14.600. Dyer earned one of two individual awards for the Sooners with Junior Spencer Goodell claiming the all-around title.

With the teams switching apparatuses, Cardinal sophomore Riley Loos produced a season-high 14.350 on the floor exercise, earning the second-highest score on the event.

After the Sooners scored a 64.100 on the pommel horse, one of their lowest-scoring rotations, the Cardinal seized a one-tenth lead heading into the next pair of apparatuses — the vault and the still rings.

The Cardinal started the next two rotations on its best apparatus, the vault. Ranked No. 1 nationally on the event, the team held its ground, scoring a 72.800. Two Cardinal gymnasts earned career-bests on the event: true freshman Brandon Nguyen with a 14.950 and sophomore Zach Martin with a 14.750.

Nguyen is now the third gymnast to have earned a 14.950 this season behind junior Curran Phillips and Nebraska true freshman Taylor Christopulos.

The Cardinal rode the wave of momentum into the still rings, besting the Sooners in one of their strongest events. The team’s efforts were led by Loos, who added a ninth individual title with a 14.250, the only gymnast to crack 14.000 on the event this meet.

After four rotations, the Cardinal extended its lead to 0.800, where the rollercoaster of routines from both teams would start to happen. Five gymnasts — two from Oklahoma and three from Stanford — were unable to crack 13.000 on the horizontal bar. However, two Cardinal gymnasts and two Sooner gymnasts cracked the 14.000 threshold on the parallel bars.

With the highs and lows of this meet, it is fitting that a tie would settle the score.

“We want to keep an eye out on what we want to be doing at NCAA Championships,” said Glielmi. “To some extent, we trained through this competition, using it as preparation for future meets.”

“Since it is their first away meet in over a year, it allowed the guys to get used to traveling and competing,” he added.

Stanford men’s gymnastics fans will need to wait another two weeks before the Cardinal returns to competition. The team will compete in its final regular-season meet against Cal for the third time this season at home on Mar. 27.

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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