No. 8 Cal men’s gymnastics falls to No. 2 Stanford at home

PC: Alexandre Bui (www.alexandrebui.com)
Alexandre Bui/Staff
PC: Alexandre Bui (www.alexandrebui.com)

Cal men’s gymnastics team, currently ranked eighth by the College Gymnastics Association (CGA) Preseason Coaches Poll, hosted longtime rival Stanford, ranked No. 2, on Sunday.

Although the Bears had a promising beginning and the Cardinal a shaky one, Stanford came out victorious in all of the individual events as well as the all-around title. Despite the tough fight, the Bears fell short in the Big Meet, with the final score being 418.100 to 403.150.

During the meet’s first individual event, the floor exercise, sophomore Aaron Mah shined and came in third place. Senior Nicholas del Junco also had a strong performance and scored 14.250 points, just shy of Mah’s 14.350 points.

The following events proved to be more challenging for the Bears — namely the pommel horse — where despite placing second, Mah was outscored by Stanford’s Akash Modi by 1.6 points. Cal senior Adam Young placed third on the pommel horse, scoring 13.200 points just behind Mah’s 13.450 points.

On the rings, co-captain and graduate student Capri Sano tied for fourth place with a score of 13.400. Juniors Gagik Gharibyan and Yordan Aleksandrov placed seventh and eighth with scores of 13.250 and 13.200, respectively. With a team total of 65.400 points, the rings turned out to be a difficult event for the Bears, as it was their second lowest team score of the meet. Cal head coach Brett McClure, however, remained positive about the team’s performance.

“Moving into the second and third events … we had a few mistakes, but it was an opportunity for (the team) to figure (them) out and learn how to handle mistakes under pressure,” McClure said. “They were able to come back strong on vault and really have a fantastic performance there.”

Indeed, the vault was the most successful event for the Bears, as their total score summed to 70.200 points, which barely beat their 70.150 score on the floor exercise. Aleksandrov, Mah and senior Michael Rauchwerger each had strong performances, scoring 14.250 points.

Senior Michael Diliberto was Cal’s highest scorer on the parallel bars, placing third with a score of 14.050. Meanwhile, Aleksandrov placed fifth, scoring a total of 13.750 points, while redshirt sophomore Mitchell Awisus scored 13.600 points and placed seventh.

Aleksandrov and Mah were Cal’s top scorers in the high bar event, both scoring 13.700 points. Both men also competed in the all-around event, but they were not able to outscore Stanford’s gymnasts, and instead came in third and fourth place, respectively. Stanford’s Modi had an exceptional performance Sunday, winning the pommel horse, parallel bar and all-around titles, which made it all the more difficult for Cal to create a winning comeback. McClure, however, is looking forward to working on some of the flaws with the team during practice.

“It was a lot of fun, but (we) definitely (have) a lot of room for improvement, so we’re already pretty anxious about getting back in the gym and working on those details,” McClure said.

The Cardinal were a tough match for the Bears, but Cal has a chance to come back even stronger and prove itself in less than a week, with the team competing at the Stanford Open on Jan. 21.

Avanti Mehrotra covers men’s gymnastics. Contact her at [email protected]