April 1, 2008
STANFORD, Calif. -
The top-ranked Stanford men's gymnastics squad will venture out to the Heartland this week to compete in the MPSF Championships Saturday, April 5 in Lincoln, Nebraska. The Cardinal, who has been ranked No. 1 in the nation since February 18, will look to dethrone Oklahoma, who has captured the last three MPSF crowns. Stanford has not won the MPSF since the 1995 season.
Stanford, who started out the 2008 campaign as the No. 1 team, finished the regular season 16-1, with their only loss coming against California on January 18. The Cardinal lost to the Golden Bears, 347.250 - 346.750, a mere five-tenths of a point short of Cal's effort. That loss caused the Cardinal to lose their top ranking from January 21 to February 18, but the Cardinal recaptured the top-honor and have held on to it since. During the regular season, the Cardinal went 7-1 against all four MPSF opponents. Stanford holds a 3-1 advantage over Cal, is up 2-0 on Nebraska, and has defeated Oklahoma and Air Force once each heading into the weekend.
Stanford continues to dominate the rankings in individuals, placing six gymnasts in the top-20 in floor exercise, two in pommel horse and all-around, and three in still rings and vault, parallel bars, and horizontal bar. Senior Chris Harper is second in pommel horse, redshirt senior Dylan Carney is second in high bar, and senior David Sender is second in all-around.
The Cardinal last competed against another school on March 8, and defeated Cal, 356.150 - 355.650, in The Big Flip Off at Maples Pavilion. Stanford hosted its final tune-up before the MPSF Championships in the an informal Alumni/Intrasquad exhibition on March 29.
Oklahoma follows the Cardinal in the national-ranks at the No. 2 spot. The Sooners have also only suffered one defeat this season, which was at the hands of the Cardinal at the Pacific Coast Classic in Oakland, Calif on February 24. Oklahoma is ranked first as a team in floor exercise, still rings, vault and is led by seniors 2006 All-Around Champion Jonathan Horton and 2007 All-Around Champion Taqiy Abdullah Simmons, who are currently the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked gymnasts in still rings, respectively. Also, freshman Steven Legendre is the top-ranked gymnast in floor exercise.
Cal is currently the fourth-best team in the nation and the Cardinal's cross-bay rivals have also had an outstanding season. Although the Golden Bears are 7-5, they pulled off two major upsets this year, defeating the Cardinal in their first meet of the year, causing Stanford to lose their No. 1 ranking, and upended reigning national champions Penn State on March 15 in Berkeley. Cal features one of the best lineups in parallel bars, and is strong in pommel horse, still rings, and high bar. Senior Tim McNeill, the 2007 NCAA Champion on pommel and p-bars along with junior Kyson Bunthuwong who also excels in those two events along with horizontal bar lead the way for the Bears.
Nebraska pulls in at the ninth-ranked spot and has had an up and down year with an overall record of 6-8. The Huskers are led by three-time All American Stephen Tetrault, who is ranked in the top-20 in pommel horse and all-around. Junior T.J. Schmidt is also in the top-20 in pommel horse and parallel bars.
Air Force rounds out the MPSF in the national-ranks at No.15. The Falcons have struggled this year, going 8-15 on the year. Air Force has relied heavily on junior Greg Stine to pull most of the weight. Stine is ranked fourth in all-around, third in still rings, and 20th in floor exercise.
After the MPSF Championships, the Cardinal will come home to host the 2008 National Collegiate Men's Gymnastics Championships at Maples Pavilion beginning on April 17 and running through April 19. Tickets are available now on gostanford.com or at the Stanford Ticket Office adjacent to Stanford Stadium.