No. 1 Stanford men’s gymnastics collected its third straight national championship on Saturday night in Norman, Okla. The Cardinal dominated the field with a 423.628, over nine points higher than runner-up No. 2 Oklahoma.
The Sooners barely held off No. 3 Michigan by a score of 414.555 to 414.490. The other three teams in the meet — No. 4 Nebraska, No. 5 Ohio State and No. 6 Illinois — finished in fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively.
As the highest qualifying team on day one of the NCAA Championships, the Cardinal began their campaign in the Lloyd Noble Center on the vault. CGA Specialist of the Year and senior Curran Phillips led off with a clean Yurchenko with two-and-a-half twists, registering a 14.700.
Freshman Khoi Young earned the highest score out of all gymnasts with a 14.933, and junior Zach Martin wowed the audience with a stuck landing, finishing behind Young with a 14.900.
Young, Martin and Phillips earned All-American status on the vault for being in the top eight at the end of the competition.
After the first rotation, Stanford had already opened a 3.500-point lead over Michigan.
Stanford headed to the parallel bars next, where senior Ian Gunther kicked off the rotation with a 14.233. Sophomore Colt Walker followed Gunther with a 14.600.
Phillips shined again on the parallel bars, where he scored the first 15.000+ routine of the entire competition with a 15.233 and claimed Stanford’s second individual title.
Phillips, Walker and Gunther earned All-American status for their efforts on the parallel bars.
Despite some key mistakes from senior Brody Malone and graduate student Blake Sun, the Cardinal extended their lead over the Wolverines to over six points after the bars.
“We know when we are pushing difficulty that there is risk with that,” said head coach Thom Glielmi. “However, it was a risk that the guys were willing to take.”
Stanford then headed to its lowest nationally ranked event (5th), the high bar. Junior J.R. Chou and freshman Taylor Burkhart kicked off the third rotation with solid scores of 13.200 and 13.233, respectively.
Nissen-Emery Award winner Malone recovered nicely from his previous event to register a 14.700 on the high bar to claim one of his two individual titles. The Cardinal finished the rotation with Phillips’ 12.700 and Gunther’s 13.533 to earn a team score of 67.366.
A strong floor exercise rotation for the Wolverines cut Stanford’s lead in half to just over three points.
With Stanford making more errors on the final day, the team opened the door slightly for Michigan and Oklahoma after the first half of the competition.
The Cardinal started the second half of the meet on the floor exercise. The memory of the first half of the rotation seemed to fade very quickly as Burkhart began with a career-best 14.233.
The scores continued to rise. Walker posted a score of 14.300, and Malone put up a season-best 14.600. In the fourth spot, junior Riley Loos maintained the momentum with a 14.500.
Senior Bryan Perla finished a lights-out rotation, tying a career-best 14.800 to give the Cardinal a season-high team score of 72.433. Perla claimed Stanford’s fifth individual title with this performance and earned All-American status with Malone and Loos.
The team headed to the fifth rotation with a lead of over 9.500 points over the Wolverines.
Stanford headed next to the always challenging pommel horse. Sun began where the Cardinal left off the previous rotation, putting up a strong 13.733 in the lead-off position. In the second spot, Burkhart almost matched Sun, scoring a 13.700.
Malone tied the highest score on the pommel horse with a 14.000, and Young closed out the rotation with a 13.800. Malone, Young, Sun and Burkhart all earned All-American status on the pommel horse.
After clean performances on the pommel horse, Stanford maintained a hefty lead of over 8.500 points over Oklahoma and Michigan with one rotation left.
And the Cardinal closed out the competition with a bang on the still rings.
Loos opened the final rotation by tying his career-best score of 14.600. His stellar performance earned the individual title with freshman Mark Berlaga finishing right behind him with a 14.533. Senior Thomas Lee ended Stanford’s dominant performance with a 14.233.
All five Stanford gymnasts earned All-American status on the still rings.
“We started off really strong on vault, but then we had hiccups on the parallel bars and high bar,” Malone said. “However, we did really well in bringing it together and finishing strong.”
Malone ended his all-around campaign with an overall score of 84.733, earning a solid 14.100 on the still rings. Michigan Junior Paul Juda edged out Malone for the all-around title with an 85.298. It would have been a third-straight all-around national title for Malone.
“I was kind of disappointed in my all-around performance today, especially on the parallel bars,” Malone said. “The other events were solid, and overall, I was pretty happy with what I did tonight.”
“Everybody that competed played a huge part in this meet,” Glielmi said after the meet. “We had guys that did not make the lineup and could have been All-Americans, but they pushed those who did make the line-up to get to where we were.”
“Stanford is the most dominant team gymnastics has ever seen,” said commentator and accomplished gymnast Tim Daggett.
This win marks Glielmi’s fifth national championship as the Stanford head coach and Stanford’s 129th NCAA championship overall. Stanford now extends its streak of having at least one NCAA team title to 46 years.