While respective stars Akash Modi and Yul Moldauer faced off at the prestigious AT&T American Cup in Newark, NJ, the rest of their teams battled it out at Stanford for bragging rights this past Saturday.
In what was expected to be a showdown until the last event, No. 1 ranked Oklahoma and No. 2 ranked Stanford certainly did not disappoint. The Sooners only barely edged out the home Cardinal by 0.250 points (432.300-432.050), and if you have ever seen gymnastics before, that gap is so marginal and subjective that it probably could have been erased by simply placing better snacks at the judges’ tables.
The night started off with Bailey Perez posting a career-best of 14.550 on floor, followed by Taylor Seaton winning the event for the Cardinal in 14.950. Despite nursing an injury, Jacob Barrus’s 3rd place 14.750 allowed Stanford to take two-thirds of the podium en route to a 72.000 team score.
On pommel horse, Joey Ringer led the team with his 14.650, as he tied with teammate Andrew Misiolek for 3rd place. Ringer’s career-best helped contribute to a 71.500 team score.
Josiah Eng attempted to continue his reign on rings but just missed the top of the podium by 5 hundredths of a point. His 14.700 earned him 2nd place, followed by Taylor Seaton’s season-best 14.550 for 3rd. Stanford’s 71.400 on the event was good enough for their best on the season.
Taylor Seaton’s 3rd place 14.800 led the way for Stanford on vault, followed by Barrett Weiss’s career-best 14.700. The team lost the event by 0.650 and at this point trailed by 2.250 points with only 2 events to go.
And that is all the Cardinal needed to hear to prompt their late push. Grant Breckenridge demolished his season-best on parallel bars with a 14.650 as he passed the torch to Robert Neff, who followed with the same outstanding mark. If 2016 US Olympic Alternate Akash Modi has a best event, it would be parallel bars. Stanford posted their season-best on the event of 70.800… without him.
The Cardinal followed that up by winning the next event by their biggest margin of the evening. Robert Neff won it in a landslide with his 15.500—the current No. 1 score this season in the NCAA on high bar. Taylor Seaton then took 3rd with a 15.050 season-best, followed up by David Jessen’s career best of 14.650. Stanford won the event 73.650-72.000 but it unfortunately was just another case of too little too late.
The Cardinal will be able to take another crack at dethroning Oklahoma with all forces a go at the NCAA Championships on April 21-22.
However, those missing pieces did in fact put on quite a show themselves over on the East Coast. Oklahoma’s Moldauer won the All-Around in 85.931 with Modi taking 3rd in 84.938. Who was sandwiched between them? 2016 Olympic All-Around Gold Medalist Oleg Vernlaiev of Ukraine. That is the quality of competition Modi faced off against there as he represented Team USA.
The AT&T Cup has been known to be a hotbed for future Olympic gymnasts, so the 2016 alternate was right where he belonged.
Up next for the Cardinal will be heading over to Ann Arbor, Michigan next Saturday to square off against Michigan and Illinois.