March 31, 2011
Stanford, Calif. - No. 2 Stanford begins the championship season this Saturday at the MPSF Championships. The Cardinal will travel to Air Force for the conference championships that begin at 5pm, MT.
Stanford will face several of the top teams in the nation, including No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 3 California, No. 8 Air Force and No. 11 Nebraska. The Sooners and the Golden Bears are the only two teams to defeat Stanford so far this season.
Stanford enters the meet as the top-ranked team on still rings and horizontal bar. Tim Gentry is the individual national leader on rings, averaging 15.662. On horizontal bar, Alex Buscaglia is the national leader, averaging 15.313.
The Cardinal also rank second in the nation on the floor exercise and vault, while ranking third on the parallel bars and fourth on the pommel horse. Josh Dixon has been the top Stanford athlete on the floor, ranking third in the nation with an average of 15.614. Gentry, Buscaglia and Dixon all rank in the top-10 overall on the vault. Stanford's top competitor on the parallel bars is Ryan Lieberman, who ranks third nationally, after winning the national title in the event last season. On pommel, John Martin leads the way, ranking fifth.
The Cardinal will be look to regain its top for that it showed earlier this season in a dual meet win over Cal in the Big Flipoff. Stanford scored 364.400 in that meet, which is the second highest total scored by any team at any point this season.
Last year, the Cardinal placed third at the MPSF Championships as Oklahoma and Cal both topped the Cardinal. Stanford struggled on the pommel horse that day, which effectively eliminated it from contention for the title. Stanford rebounded to beat both teams at the NCAA meet in 2010, but it is a reminder of how one event can shape a competition.
Stanford last won the MPSF title in 2009, they same year it captured its only NCAA title under head coach Thom Glielmi
. Ironically, Stanford last four conference titles (2009, 1995, 1993, 1992) are the same seasons that it has won its four NCAA titles.
The 2009 MPSF title was won by Stanford in convincing fashion as Sho Nakamori won four individual titles on the way to being named MPSF Gymnast of the Year. Other MPSF titles won by Stanford were in 1995 and 1993, while it won Pac-10 titles in 1992 and 1990.
The Cardinal will be looking for conference title No. 6 on Saturday, especially with how it has been foreshadowing of the NCAA title. The NCAA Championships will complete the season on April 14-16.